Madheshi People

Madheshi (मधेशी) is an umbrella term loosely used to identify the people of several ethnic and religious groups originated in Mithila region of Nepal and neighboring Indian states living in the some parts of Terai plains of Nepal.

Some people also informally define Madheshi as anybody in Nepal who is not Khas (eg Bahun, Chhettri) or Janjati (eg Rai, Limbu). Some people argue that the whole terai plain of Nepal is Madhesh so everybody living in terai plains are madheshi irrespective of their origin. Some people generalize Madheshi as anybody with black-complexion and some people further generalize as simply as anybody from India. As Madheshi itself is not a race rather a community, there is always a debate about who is Madheshi and who is not.


Geographically, Nepal is divided into three parts: Himal (high mountains), Pahad (middle hills) and Terai (plain lands). 

People other than Madheshi are considered as Pahade (originated in Pahad) by many people including Madheshi. Whereas a large sect of Madheshi people are considered 'Indian' by many of Non-Madheshi people which Madheshi people do not approve. It is claimed that Madhesh is originated from "Madhya-desh", an unknown ancient kingdom situated somewhere between Nepal and India, which does not have any historical evidence.

Today large majority of Madheshi people live in Terai districts whereas some Madheshi people live in Major hill cities like Kathmandu.

No of population

According to National Census 2011, Terai region, which consists 20 among 75 districts but just about 17% of total area of Nepal, has the population over 13.3 million which is about 50.27% of total population of Nepal. But this includes people from all communities Madheshi, Pahadi, Tharu & other Native tribes.

The official census of Nepal does not maintain the overall number of Madheshi people rather it counts all races and ethnicity separately.

If we add people of maximum number of races considered "Madheshi" by Madheshi political parties, then the Madheshi population can go up to 7.3 million or around 28 % of total population of Nepal.

But some races among them (for example: Tharu people, Marwadi people) do not consider themselves to be Madheshi, which drops down the total Madheshi population to 20%.

In the new constitution of Nepal 2015 8 districts among 20 Terai districts are assigned to State no 2 which is most likely to be named as Madhesh. If we only add the population of the given state the number will be far less, somewhere around 10% of population of Nepal.

But the massive figure of population of whole Terai region is used by several political parties for their own interest. The phrase "Over half of population" is sometimes used by Madheshi parties as the total number of Madheshi people to show their strength for political purpose. Whereas many other parties use same phrase to show the need of several states in a densely populated region.

Tharu vs Madheshi

Many Madheshi people regard Tharu people as Madheshi whereas Tharu people do not like to identify themselves as Madheshi. In the first Madhesh upraising (2007/2008) one of the main demand was "Samagra madhesh ek swyatta pradesh" i.e. "All terai - a single autonomous state" (as Madheshi people consider Terai as synonym for Madhesh). But the following Tharuhat upraising countered that demand. Tharu Kalyankarini Sabha, Tharuhat Terai party are some polities entities working for independent identity of Tharu people. Currently Tharuwan parties are demanding "Tharuhat State" in western terai of Nepal whereas Madhesh is now limited to central Terai only.

A huge percentage of Madheshi population believe in Hinduism, it can be somewhere around 75-85% depending on the total number of Madheshi population. Janakpurdham, birthplace of goddess Sita, is the holiest Hindu site in Madhesh region.

Muslim Madheshi

Nepal census counts Musalman as a race and Islam as a religion. According to 2011 Census there are 11,64,255 (4.4% of Total population) of Musalman people living in Nepal. There is big Muslim community in Western Terai including districts like Kapilvastu, Banke and Eastern Terai districts like Rauthahat and Persa. 

There is also a small group of Muslim people living in Hill districts like Gorkha, Kaski and Lamjung. They are the decedents of Muslim Skilled labors brought by Great King Prithivi Narayan Shah from India during unification of Nepal in around 1744 AD. They prefer to identify themselves as Nepali than Madheshi from Nepal.

Madhesh state

After the Madhesh upraising of 2007 and 2008 Madheshi leaders made two separate deals with government of Nepal known as 22-point agreement and 8-point agreement respectively which guaranteed a "Madhesh state" within future federal Nepal. State Reconstruction Committee of Constituent Assembly in 2010 had passed federal structure of 14 states supported by UCPN(M) and CPN-UML parties. There were two states proposed in terai regions one in eastern terai named as "Mithila-Bhojpura-Madhesh" and another in western terai named "Lumbini-Awadh-Tharuwan". In 2012, State Reconstruction Commission proposed 10+1 state model which was more or less similar to the earlier one. In Aug 2015 '6-states' and '7-states' models were proposed in CA in which Madhesh state is in eastern terai whereas western terai is merged with some hilly districts.

The new constitution of Nepal promulgated in Sep 2015 assigned the 8 south-central districts to State no 2 which is most likely to be named as Madhesh.

List of Madheshi Races and Ethnicity having population more than 100,000 according to Nepal census 2011:-

Musalmaan 11.64 lakh (4.4%)
Yadav 10.54 lakh (4%)
Teli 3.70 lakh (1.4%)
Chamar/Harijan/Ram 3.36 lakh (1.27%)
Koiri/Kushwaha 3.06 lakh (1.16%)
Dushadh (Paswan, Hajara, Pasi)
Rajbanshi (?)
Tatma/ Tatwa (Tanti, Das)
Khatwe (Mandal, Khang)

Terai Dalit
1. Kalar
2. Kakaihiya
3. Kori
4. Khatik
5. Khatwe (Mandal, Khang)
6. Chamar (Ram, Mochi, Harijan, Ravidas)
7. Chidimar
8. Dom (Marik)
9. Tatma (Tanti, Das)
10. Dushadh (Paswan, Hajara)
11. Dhobi (Rajak) Hindu
12. Pasi
13. Bantar
14. Mushar
15. Mestar (Halkhor)
16. Sarbhang (Sarbariya)
17. Natuwa
18. Dhandi
19. Dharikar/ Dhankar

Notable Madheshi People:-
  1. Ram Baran Yadav(b.1948), 1st President of Nepal (2008-2015)
  2. Gajendra Narayan Singh, Leader, Founder of  Nepal Sadbhawana Party (1985)
  3. Upendra Yadav (b.1960), Leader, Founder of  Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum
  4. Mahantha Thakur, Leader, Founder of Terai Madhesh Loktantrik Party.
  5. Anil Mandal, Cricketer


For administrative purpose, how to find out if someone is madheshi or not ?
*There is no any factual way to identify if somebody is madheshi or not - as government of Nepal does not provide the list of madheshi races. Currently you have to take your citizenship certificate to CDO office and get certification letter as being madheshi to get qualified in any madheshi quota.
*many different people define madhesi as follows (as per their comfort).
- anybody living in Terai districts  (including padhadi root)
- anybody living in Terai (except pahadi root ie. bahun, chhettri, rai, limbu etc) but includes Tharu, Muslim, Terai dalit, native of east (eg Rajbanshi, meche, koche etc)
- people living in terai (excluding pahadi root, Tharu, eastern natives) etc and similar people living in hills

See Also:-
  1. Mithila region
  2. Madheshi politics and list of parties
  3. Khas People
  4. Janajati People
  5. Newar people
  6. Tharu People
  7. Ancient Nepali kingdoms
Tags: Madhishe (मधिशे), madhesi vs pahari, madhesi vs pahadi,