‘Scripturalisation’—or the transformation of oral texts into sacred scriptures—is an important component of ritual dynamics among the Limbu as well as among all Kiranti groups today. This concerns in particular the mundhum, narratives through which myths, representations, and practices are transmitted.
One of the first to bring out a printed mundhum version was Iman Singh Chemjong (Kirāt Mundhum [Kirāt ko ved], Champaran: Rājendra Rām, 1961). But though he was a propagator of the Srijanga script (which he revised), he could not print this in the indigenous script but had to use Devanagari for technical reasons. Only later, especially after 1990, mundhum texts were published in the local script. Above all, Atmananda Lingden, who is regarded by many as successor of Phalgunanda, published the Samjik Mundhum, which is now widely used for ritual purposes among his followers.
In Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Sikkim the Srijanga script was developed and spread from the 1920s. The teaching of Limbu language in public schools was introduced in Sikkim in 1968. It was introduced at university level – with the opening of the Limbu department of the Sikkim University – in 2016. In between, Sikkimese Limbu endeavored to modify the Srijanga script and develop a rich corpus of literature with use of this script.
Limbu literary movements
This led the project collaborators to study the process of scripturalisation as part of the literary movement among the Limbu people in Sikkim in Nepal. This movement involved the use and transformation of the Srijanga script, as well as the development of a literature. Today there is a growing body of publications in this script (partly also in the Devanagari script), which includes songs, poetry, novels, historical accounts and teaching materials. In order to facilitate the study of this literary tradition the project includes cataloguing books on and in Limbu, published in Nepal and India.
Learning Limbu language
Learning Limbu is an important aspect of the project. To this end, Buddhi L. Khamdhak (assistant professor, Limbu Department, Gyezing College, Sikkim) was invited as guest lecturer by CIRDIS (project Trans-border religion,FWF P 29805-G24) and the Department of South Asian, Tibetan, and Buddhist Studies in March and April 2019, to teach Limbu to students and researchers.