Community | People

The Rare Handcraft Tharu Community Of India: Youth Development Project For A Sustainable Society Through Local Resources

Jun 20, 2024 | Navoditha Seth

Tharu people are an indigenous ethnic group primarily residing in the Terai region of Nepal and northern India.

  • Known for their rich cultural heritage, vibrant traditions, and deep connection to the land, the Tharu have a unique way of life that has evolved over centuries. 

Objective of this Study

  • To explore the Tharu's social structure, customs, culture, lifestyle and contemporary challenges.

  •  To develop a sustainable system with the existing knowledge, practices and resources for the sustainable growth of the community. 

Geographic location

  • Terai regions of northern India. 

  • States:

  • Champara of Bihar

  • Udham Singh Nagar of Uttarakhand

  • Kheeri, Pilibhit, Gonda, Balrampur, Gorakhpur, Lalhimpur Lhiri of UP

Physical Environment

  • Damp Climate

  • Excessive humid & heat during rainy season

  • Water logging

  • Fertile soil (Good for paddy cultivation)

  • Diverse Forest

Social System

  • Patrilineal Society

  • Polygamy is a known practice in society.

  • Systematic society following a hierarchical system.

  • The system is called Panchayat & the leader is pardhan.

  • The panchayat system governs the community as well as they are the justice providers for the people.

  • Women have high position & respect in the society along with economic rights.

  • Practices Hindu religion as well as worship local gods & goddesses.

  • Friendship is a very Integral part of the society, everyone has one best friend who are close like real brothers & sisters.

  • Love marriage, remarriage and widow marriage is acceptable


(Tharu's are agricultural community)


1. Rice (Oryza sativa)

2. Wheat (Triticum aestivum)

3. Maize (Zea mays)

Pulses and Legumes:

  1. Lentils (Lens culinaris)

  2. Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)


  1. Mustard (Brassica spp.)

Vegetables and Other Crops:

  1. Millet (Eleusine coracana)

  2. Various Vegetables including gourds, pumpkins, spinach, and other leafy greens, which are integral to their daily diet. 

  3. Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum)

  4. Barley (Hordeum vulgare)

Craft & Art Practices

All the cultural & economic practices are deeply rooted with nature.

Following are the cultural practices of Tharus:

  1. Folk art

  2. Tharu wall paintings

  3. Tharu hand crafts

  4. Tharu dance & songs

  5. Tharu tattoos

  6. Tharu magic


Traditional mud houses with mud, wood and grass are warm in winter and cool in summer.

Social Scenario

  • Social Discrimination and Marginalisation: As a marginalised community lacks representation in the politics & faces discrimination.

  • Limited Access to Quality Education: Tharu's depend on local government school or private schools, though the youth only focus on studying for landing any job and do not care much about quality education for intellectual growth.

  • Employment: 90.42% youth focus on government or private jobs but lack the educational resources for higher level jobs. Only 4.31% are studying for higher level jobs. 9.48% want their businesses.

  1. School teachers job is very lucrative for the tribe youth

  2.  54.31% people wants jobs in local areas

  3. Traditional craft & art don't get enough exposure to provide a livelihood

Social Scenario

  • Health: People prefer traditional medicine & jadphook over modern medicines.

  • Cultural Mix: Cultural mix is visible as the youths are going out for jobs. The youth are becoming more & more disconnected with their culture, tradition & knowledge as well as losing connection with nature and sustainable lifestyle.

  • Technology:

  1. People have access to modern tech but it is mostly used for entertainment purposes.

  2.  Electric facility has been developed but the community faces extreme power cuts.

  • Transportation: Bus is the main mode of transportation 55.60% people use bus, 33.60% use taxi & 10% use bullock cart.

  • Tourism: Tribal truism has started for economic development.

Tharu Ecosystem & Environmental Impact

Tharu People

Environmental Factors & Impact on Tharu People:

What can be Done

  • Diversified income opportunity with the local resources & knowledge

  • Developing businesses with the Tharu Craft & art

  • Developing acceptance of traditional knowledge

  • Preserving the sustainable lifestyle & economy of the Tharus


Developing Youth Centers for skill and economic development. 

I Understand

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