Thar, Pacha & Samet : Khambu Clan System

Written by Pradip Khambu Rai
May 01, 2020

Khambu is a tribe. Within this tribe there are subgroups or sub-tribes which are known as Thars. At present there are 28 Thars within the Khambu tribe. Khambu is a tribe. Within this tribe there are subgroups or sub-tribes which are known as Thars. At present there are 28 Thars within the Khambu tribe. Khambu is a tribe. Within this tribe there are subgroups or sub-tribes which are known as Thars. At present there are 28 Thars within the Khambu tribe.

Khambu is a tribe. Within this tribe there are subgroups or sub-tribes which are known as Thars. At present there are 28 Thars within the Khambu tribe.

Table of Contents

Thar

Khambu is a tribe. Within this tribe there are subgroups or sub-tribes which are known as Thars. At present there are 28 Thars within the Khambu tribe. Some of the more populous ones are Chamling, Bantawa, Kulung, Thulung, Khaling, Bahing, Mewahang, Lohrung, Athpahare, Nachhiring  etc. This division of the Khambus into various sub-tribes allows for the minor alterations in the ritualistic practices while the essence of the traditions remains homogeneous largely.

Pacha

Within the sub-tribe is the system of clans. Thars are further classified into various minor clans known as Pacha. Pa = Father and Cha =Son. Therefore this system is what can be called a family name passed on by father to son. As families spread, it is the Pacha which keeps them connected over many generations. Therefore two people with the same Pacha cannot intermarry.  Pacha is used for general introductions of origin whereas Samet is used for special introduction of origin. Similar Pacha denotes that they are descendents of the same ancestral line which had been divided into further mini tribes in the old days. It is said that once a person owns his own Pacha, he will have to survive on his own for 7 generations after which Pacha becomes valid. Once a girl gets married, she acquires her husband’s Pacha while her traditional Samet remains unchanged.

Samet

There is a further classification within the Pacha known as the Samet or Same. Samet is 
again further classified into Hongchi Samet which consists of the Female and Male Samet (prevalent among most Thars). There is another kind of Samet which is known as Sichi Samet. This is the Samet of the deceased which is usually required for invocation during Mang Sewa (Ancrestral Worship). 

Samet is the relationship of man to his ancestors. It is used as an association with his ancient forefathers is can be interpreted not just in the kinship category but more at a spiritual level. Samet is the original or proto name which identifies people, clans and objects in their relations with the ancestors. Samet relates a person to a group beyond his or her own clan to the original clan or group.

It is important to pronounce the name of the Samet of the groom and the bride at the time of marriage. It is important to pronounce the Samet of the deceased person at the time of his funeral. Even when Shamans are healing a person, they require the Samet of the person to be treated.

Pradip Khambu Rai

Pradip Rai is a writer and researcher studying the ethnic culture and history of the Himalayan Tribes.

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