The Rais

The Rais come from surrounding hills in the North- Eastern Nepal; mainly near Dhankuta, Terhathum , Bhojpur and Arun and Dudh valleys.

The Rais have Mongoloid features: short stature, pale pigmentation, and a flat face with small almond-shaped eyes. They speak different languages or dialects. The women decorate themselves lavishly with silver and gold coin jewellery. Marriage unions are usually arranged by parents although the tradition is slowly adapting to present days.

The Rais are neither Hindus nor Buddhists. Most Rais worship nature. Hence, they have their own set of beliefs. They bury the dead and construct a stone chautara (rest platform) or erect a wooden bench along as a memorial to the dead. A major Rai holiday is the harvest festival, Nwogi, when fresh harvested foods are shared by all. On other communal festivals, they mostly eat pork and drink liquor to make merry.


The settlement is usually dispersed. The houses are two-storeyed with the ground floor invariably used as a pig sty. Some of the houses in the Upper Arun region are entirely made of bamboo.

Economy and trade

The Rais mainly derive their subsistence from agriculture. They cultivate paddy, millet, wheat, corn and even cotton. They also form a strong group in the Gorkha regiment, Royal Army of Nepal and the police.

Nepal is a melting pot of different castes and culture. As such, the Rais have their own distinctive taste to add.