Tharu are an ethnic group indigenous to the Terai -- the southern foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal and India. They are considered to be the direct discendents of the Gautama Buddha. Anthropologist Prof Dor Bahadur Bista, Balaram Gharti Magar and many scholars support the logic Suddhodhana being Tharu king of Kapilvastu, Lumbini-the birth place of Buddha, Nepal. Archealogical findings have also been supporting that Tharu people were living in that area for quite long time. The Tharus are recognized as an official nationality by the Government of Nepal.
The Tharu people themselves say that they are a people of the forest. In Chitwan, they have lived in the forests for hundreds of years practicing a short fallow shifting cultivation. They planted rice, mustard, corn and lentils, but also collected forest products such as wild fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and materials to build their houses; hunted deer, rabbit and wild boar, and went fishing in the rivers and oxbow lakes.
The Tharus never went abroad for employment – a life that kept them isolated in their own localities. In this isolation they developed a unique culture free from the influence of adjacent India, or from the mountain groups of Nepal. The most striking aspects of their environment are the decorated rice containers, colorfully painted verandahs and outer walls of their homes using only available materials like clay, mud, dung and grass. Much of the rich design is rooted in devotional activities and passed on from one generation to the next, occasionally introducing contemporary elements such as a bus or an airplane.
There is no one Tharu language unifying Tharu communities in different parts of Nepal and India. Several speak various endemic Tharu languages. In western Nepal and adjacent parts of India, Tharus speak variants of Urdu and Awadhi. In and near central Nepal, they speak a variant of Bhojpuri. In eastern Nepal, they speak a variant of Maithili. More standard versions of these dialects are widely spoken by non-Tharu neighbors in the same areas so that there are no important linguistic barriers between Tharus and their neighbors. However, there are linguistic barriers between these dialects standing in the way of communication between Tharus from different regions.
Tharu were already living in the Terai before Indo-Europeans arrived, raising the question what they may have been speaking at the time. The only surviving pre-Indo-European language in the Terai is Kusunda,Santhali further west.