ban forest (pronounced “bon”)

bahini younger sister

bari un-irrigated (rain-fed) arable land

buhari daughter-in-law

chautara resting place

chorten a small Buddhist shrine (Tibetan word)

Dalit generic term referring to all people of so-called low caste (one termed untouchables)

didi elder sister

dhero form of stiff porridge, eaten as a staple. It is usually by heating water, adding millet or maize flour, and then stirring vigorously whilst it cooks over the fire.

gai cow

ghar house

ghee clarified – that is, heated and separated – butter. The idea of processing it is to improve its keeping qualities

goth temporary animal shelter (sometimes also occupied by humans), usually made with walls of woven bamboo and roofed with braches and leaves – or plastic sheeting

hasiya sickle

jaad local beer made from mixing water with fermented grain – usually millet. It is cloudy in appearance, and slightly sour in taste.

Janajati generic term for people belonging to the many ethnic groups of Nepal – however, the indigenous people of Kathmandu, the Newars, are often not included within it.

jhankri traditional healer

khet irrigated arable land, usually cultivated for paddy in summer; in winter a second crop may be grown such as wheat or potatoes if sufficient water is available

khol black eye-liner

kosi large river

lungi piece of cloth normally sewn together to form a cylinder, which is then wrapped around the body as a long skirt

matwali term used for those who by their caste or ethnic group drink alcohol; less commonly used today than in the past (could now be perceived to be derogatory)

maita a woman’s natal home

mit close friend, bound in friendship as a blood tie

panchayat until 1990, the lowest unit of government administration and the one-party political system (as established in 1962). The panchayat was replaced by the Village Development Council (VDC)

pipal tree belonging to the fig family, Ficus religiosa

portuka long piece of white cloth wrapped around the waist as a waistband

puja an act of worship – usually involving the offering of a gift such as food or flowers to a deity. The word is used by both Hindus and Buddhists.

puri a fried flat bread served during festivities. Richer households use ghee (clarified butter) to fry the bread; poorer households use oil.

purnima full moon

sachib secretary

salwar kameeze matching dress comprising a long tunic worn over trousers, usually set off by a long flowing scarf

shraddha Hindu ritual performed for dead ancestors – particularly parents

sindur red powder – vermilion

soldar “gravy” eaten with a staple when there is nothing else – comprising heated water, salt and pounded chillies

stupa Buddhist shrine or memorial, usually rounded in shape

tikka auspicious, usually red, marking placed on the forehead – it may be simply a finger-print of vermillion powder, or a sticker, or a mass of rice and yoghurt coloured red

tol hamlet


CFUG Community Forestry Users Group

FECOFUN Federation of Community Forest Users of Nepal

SLC School Leaving Certificate (taken at the end of grade 10)

VDC Village Development Committee (lower administrative unit of Nepal)