National Geographic : 2000 Sep
ORDERLY as fields of mustard and wheat that spread beyond their walls, doorless longhouses shelter some 1,500 people in one of several Rana Tharu villages scattered across the western tarai. Extended families of up to 50 people may live in one house, sharing meals, chores, and concern about outsiders who trick them into debt, forcing them to sell tradi tional lands that have sustained the Rana Tharus for four centuries. Dividing daily labors, men plow, plant, and weave the nets that women use to fish. In the rain-washed light of summer's monsoon season, one fishing party flutters across a rice field like butterflies on the wing. farmed, and fished in swiftly flowing rivers.