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A proud Newar
« on: October 07, 2009, 01:00:56 AM »

Newars' festivals start from Gathanmugah and ends in Sithi Nakhah. Therefore Gathan Mugah is also known as Kayahmacha Nakhah ( the son festival) and Sithi Nakhah is also known as Mhayamacha Nakhah (the daughter festival) in Newar culture. No festival is observed in between Sithinakhah and Gathan Mukhah as the farmers are busy in the their work at that time. The festivals celebrated by the Newars are related with their places and lives. Thus through the festivals observed by the Newars, one can know many things about them.

Gathan Mugah (August)
It is festival of cleaning. Since farmers are busy in farming in rainy season, they do not get time to clean their house and even take bath and wash their clothes.Thus as their work finish by Gathan Mugah, they take bath, wash their clothes and clean house in Gathan Mugah. On this very day, girls throw all their playing dolls. Every corner of a house is cleaned and incense is burnt to kill insects. Chahray angu (a ring made of metal alloys) is wore on this occasion. In evening, effigies of Gathan Mugah are made from green reeds. They are dragged out of the town and burnt there.

Gunla Dharma (August-September)
Gunla is a month according to Nepal Era, which falls in the middle of monsoon (August). This month is considered as holy Buddhist month. Day in day out , whatever the weather may be , devotees visit buddhist monasteries, courtyards and shrines every early morning by playing Gunla Bajan. Gunla Bajan includes Dhah and Naykhin accompanied by cymbals and shwam.

Gunhu Punhi (August- September)
Gunhu Punhi is one of the most significant festivals of the Newars which lasts for 9 days.
First day, known as Gunhu Punhi, the Newars drink broth consisting of spouted mixed cereals. Everyone gets doro, a protection cord tied in one's wrist from the brahmans. On this day, food is offered for the frogs in farms, which is known as Byanja Nakegu.
Saparu is the second day of Gunhu Punhi. On this day people, whose family member died in that year, dressed up as cows parade in the town. It is believed that cows help the departed soul to enter the heaven easily. Other remarkable thing is humor and satire presented on this day.
Last day of Gunhu Punhi is Krishnastami, birth anniversary of lord Krishna, an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Various dances in various parts of the valley are performed in between.

Pancha Dan (August-September)
Pancha Dan is observed by Buddhists only, especially by Shakyas and Bajracharyas. Buddhist antiques are displaced and gigantic effigies of Dipankar are parade around the town. However, the main highlight of the festival is the giving away of alms to Buddhist monks.

Yanya Punhi (September)
Yanya Punhi is dedicated to lord Indra, the king of heaven. This is a week long festival which begins after the erection of Yosin, a ceremonial pole. The main feature of this festival in Kathmandu is a week long display of gigantic mask of Aakash Bhairab and procession of Kumari, the living goddess along with other two living gods Ganesh and Kumar.

Mohani (October)
Mohani is observed for two weeks. It is observed with great joy. Barley seeds are planted on the first day which is known as Nahla Swanegu. It is nurtured for nine days. On the day of Astami, koochhi bhoya (a feast with two manas i.e. about half kilo of beaten rice) is eaten by gathering family members. On Nawami, (Syakotyako) Durga is worshipped with goats, cocks sacrificed. Nahlaswan i.e. the fresh shoot of barley is also offered. The concluding day of the festival, i.e. on Chalan, processions with scimitars takes place in various places o f the Newar settlements, which is commonly known as Payah.

Swanti (October-November)
Tihar, the festival of light lasts for five days. Swanti stands for Swanhu Ttithi which means three days in Nepalbhasa. Among five days of tihar three days are mainly celebrated. On the day of Laxmi puja, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth is worshipped and in the evening lights are burnt to invite Laxmi. Mhapuja is the day of worshiping one's body. This is the new year's day according to Nepal Era. Kija Puja , the last day of the swanti, is dedicated to brothers. Sisters worship their brothers on this day.

Sakimila Punhi (November- December)
Sakimila Punhi (Sakimana Punhi) or the full moon day of boiled arum is the festival of eating arum, sweet potato and fried grains. Halimali Bwayegu (exibiting figure designs of fried grains) with Dapha Bhajan or Dhalcha Bhajan (chanting religious hymns) takes place in the evening in every section of the settlements.

Bala Chahre (December)
This is the festival of scattering seeds (sadhbew) and praying for the souls of the departed in Pashupati, Kathmandu. In many places it is celabrated by gathering the members of Milah Guthi (a kind of social association) and banqueting together.

Yomari Punhi (December-January)
It is post harvest festival of worshipping the newly brought rice and Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for good harvest. Yomari Punhi lends its name from Yomari (a typical steamed cake of rice flour dough stuffed with a mixture of sesame and molasses), which is offered in Dhukoo (store room) and eaten on this day. In the evening kids go around the neighborhood to beg Yomari.

Ghayh Chaku Sanhlhu (January)
Also known as hamoh sanhlu, this festival is observed according to solar calendar. On this day, people take bath early in the morning and offer sugar candy, pills of sesame and molasses etc to their priests. They too eat yams, spinach, sweets of sesame and molasses to warm their body. People rub mustard oil over their bodies in the sun.

Swasthani Bakhan Kanegu (January-February)
In magh month, from mila punhi (full moon day- Jan) to seeh punhi (full moon day-Feb.) Swasthani Bakhan (Swasthani Story) is recited every evening for a month. it is believed that worshipping Swasthani brings happiness in life. There is a belief that Parbati succeed to get Mahadeva as her husband by worshiping Swasthani.

Shree Panchami (February)
Shree Panchami or Basanta Panchami is concerned in honor of Saraswati, Hindu goddess of learning. Artists, teachers, students gather at Saraswati temple in different places. Buddhists worship Manjushree on this day.

Sila Chahre (March)
There are 24 Shivaratris in a year, among which Sila Chahre is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri. Shiva is worshiped on this day. people take bath and fast on this day. People who stay awoken for the whole night get success in every works.

Holi Punhi (March-April)
Holi Punhi, the festival of color begins officially with the raising of huge ceremonial pole at the Basantapur of Kathmandu. Though celebrated for a week, holi punhi or (full moon day -march) is the main day. This festival is belived to be observed since the period of lord Krishna. People play with water and color and roam around the streets.

Pahan Chahre (April)
Pahan chare or Pasa Chare is specially observed in Kathmandu only. On this day, Mahadev in the form of Pisach (Lukumahadyah) is worshipped. Thus the festival is also known as Pisach Chaturdasi. Different palanquin circumambulation takes place in Kathmandu for a week.

Biskah Jatra (April)
The word 'Biskah' or 'B isket' is said to be derived from 'Bee Sikah', which means 'after death of serpents' . It is said that this festival was begun to celebrate after after the death of serpents, serpents described in various legends. Even though it is said so, from various chronicles, sacred writings, inscriptions and the culture of Bisket, it is known that it was not used in the sense of death of serpents. This festival is celebrated mainly in Bhaktapur and Thimi with Chariot festival, tongue boring festival and with music and dances in other parts of the valley as well.

Machhendra Nath Jatra (May-June)
There are two Machhendra nath festivals, namely Rato Machhendranath (Bunga dyah) Jatra and Seto Machhendranath (Janmah dyah) Jatra. The main features of these festivals are pulling of a huge four wheel chariot of Machhendranath. The former, observed in Lalitpur, starts from Pulchowk and ends in Jawahlakhel, where ritual display of legendary vest (bhoto) takes place. It is observed for a month. The later, observed in Kathmandu, starts from Tindhara and ends in Lagan.

Swanya Punhi (May-June)
Budhha Jayanti- full moon day April/may is the day of birth, attainment of enlightenment and death of Lord Budhha, the light of Asia. On this day worship of Budhha takes places in Buddhist monasteries and specially in Swambhu Stupa of Kathmandu.

Sithi Nakhah (June)
Sixth day of bright lunar fortnight is dedicated to Lord Kumar. This is the day when Kartikeya Kumar (Sithi Dyah) was born. On this day, people take bath and houses are cleaned. Wells and conduits are also cleaned on this day, this is also the day of eating Chatamari- a typical rice flour bread and Wo- a flat cake of mashed lentils. It is the last festival of a year that the Newars observe.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2009, 01:01:45 AM »

Pre Natal
There are many pre natal rituals, however majority of those : pusawan kriya, simatopanayan, for example are no longer in existence. Nevertheless, Dhau baji nakegu (offering yogurt and flattened rice along with yomari, sweets etc) during pregnancy is still practiced by many castes.

After child birth, it is informed to maternal home of the mother. It is done by sending sugar candy, nutmeg, ginger etc. After the birth, concerned family becomes ritually impure. They become pure after 'Machaboo byanke' tradition which is done on forth, sixth or tenth day after the child birth.
There is also a tradition of offering different kinds of foods from maternal home of the mother within a month of delivery, which is known as 'Baji nakah wonegu' or ' Machaboo swahwanegu'.

Macha Janko (the rice feeding)
The rice feeding is done in 6th or 8th month (in case of a boy) and in 5th or 7th month (in case of a girl). After worshipping Ganesh, the child is offered rice pudding with verities of food. It is believed that the child gets similar food throughout his life as the food offered on that day.

Busankha (Boys)
Busankha means shaving of hair. it is done at the age of 6 or 7. Shaving of hair is done by the maternal uncle of the boy, sister of the boy's father holds the shaved hair. These days, busankha is done at the time of 'kayatapuja'.

Kayatapuja (Boys)
Kayatapuja or fixing of loin cloth is done to mark the attainment of puberty. Bajracharya and Shakyas perform the tonsure ceremony, Chudakarma. During this, one has to visit shrines and pay homage to Kwahpahdyoh and make offerings. After kayatapuja, Jyapus and Sayamis undergo Ohla (which is less practiced these days.)

Ihi (Girls)
This is a ritual symbolic marriage with a bel (byah) fruit, the symbol of lord Vishnu. This ceremony, celebrated at the age of 5-11 , is done to prevent widowhood. As they are married to immortal lord, the Newar girls never become widow.
The girls are also taught household works in Ihi.

Bahra (Girls)
After Ihi, a Newar girl undergo bahra, ritual confinement of a girl before the onset of menstruation. A girl is kept separated from all males and from sunlight for 12 days. On 12th day the girl has to pay homage to the sun.

Ihipa (Marriage)
Marriage in Newar culture is social union of two families. The parents arrange marriage for their sons and daughters. After the groom's and bride's families decision, the marriage is confirmed by giving 10 betel nuts along with fruits, sweets etc (known as lakha) from groom's family to the bride.
Marriage ceremony is performed at the time scheduled by the astrologer. Swayamber, Honkegu, Chipa Theeke (symbol of sharing everything) is performed. Bride presents 10 betel nuts to all her family members. Brother of her mother, paju, takes on his back and carries her out of the house. He then presents her to the groom's family.
The bride's family visit the groom's house on the 4th day , to see how the bride is being treated , which is known as Khwah soye (seeing the bride's face).

Jyah Janko
Jyah janko is old age ceremony to mark one's longevity. It is celebrated for five times.
First - Bhimratharohan - At the attainment of 77 years, 7 months, 7 days
Second - Chadraratharohan - At the attainment of 83 years, 4 months, 4 days
Third - Devaratharohan - At the attainment of 88 years, 8 months, 8 days
Forth - Divyaratharohan - At the attainment of 99 years, 9 months, 9 days
Fifth - Mahadivyaratharohan - At the attainment of 105 years, 8 months, 8 days

As soon as a person dies, all the Guthi (social organisation) members are informed. Four lamps are set around the four direction of the corpse. Mha gele, adoration of the corpse is marked. Funeral procession is accompanied with Nayahkhin drum followed by a lot of people wailing and crying. Cremation is different in different castes.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2009, 01:02:23 AM »

NepalBhasa- The Newar Language
The Newars have their own language Nepalbhasa. It is a Sino-Tibetan language. It is believed that there are about five hundred Sino-Tibetan Languages in the world. Among them Nepalbhasa is the oldest of this language group in South Asia. Also it is forth in Sino-Tibetan languages which have old literature extant. First, second and third being Chinese, Tibetan and Burmese respectively.

Literature Extant
Many Nepalbhasa words are found in Lichhivi inscriptions. As it had been popular as public language in early Malla period (9th Century), Nepalbhasa writing had started at the very time. In the manuscript of 'Nidan' (901 A.D.) , the date has been written in Nepalbhasa- (Kwoyeya pwalam mikhaya pwalam sambat nepalaya thuli). The concluding line (Sidhayeka juro) is in Nepalbhasa, in 'Tathagat Guhyak' manuscript (1104 A.D.). In Guthi paper (1114 A.D.) found in Rudrabarna Mahabihar, a long description has written in Nepalbhasa. In this way, from the very beginning of 12th century, Nepalbhasa was used as independent expression language. Stone inscription found in the courtyard of Bajrayogini Temple of Sankhu (dated 1173 A.D.) is the oldest ever found stone inscription and copper inscription found in Kasthamandap (dated 1374 A.D.) is the oldest ever found copper inscription in Nepalbhasa.

The oldest book (manuscript) in Nepalbhasa found till now is 'Haramekhala' (1374 A.D.), a medical book, which is Nepalbhasa translation of book written in Prakrit language, by Bengal Poet 'Madhuk'. Other found books of that period are Nyayashastra (1380 A.D.) , Putrapautradibodhini (1381 A.D.), Amarkosh (1386 A.D.) etc. Gopalraj Banshawali (a chronicle) is the first original Nepalbhasa book, of which first sixteen page has been lost, from 17 to 30 (A), it has been written in Sanskrit language and from 30(B) to 63 in Nepalbhasa.

Dashaphala (1399A.D.), Bhasajyotis (1422 A.D.), Sumatikarana (1512 A.D.) and others can be mentioned in astrological book written in Nepalbhasa. 'Dashakarma Paddati' (1498 A.D.) is the oldest book on rituals written in Nepalbhasa. After 'Bhagwat Puran' (1505 A.D.), creative literature in Nepalbhasa starts from 'Tantrakhyan' (1518 A.D.).

Creative literature at a glance
First Story Book - Tantrakhyan (1518 A.D.)
First Song - Walangata Simule Swambaraya (In reign of Pranmol malla, 1523-1550 A.D.)
First One-act Play - Ekadashi Brata (1633A.D.) by Sidhhinarasigh Malla
First Drama - Mooldev Shashidev by Jagat Prakash Malla (1645-1673 A.D.)


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2009, 01:03:44 AM »

Newars in Musics

The Newars are very much rich in traditional, classical and folk music as in dances. Various music and dance events take place in different parts of Newar societies on the occasion of different festivals. In fact, the Newars are so duly intermixed with music and dances that not a single festival, feast or ceremony, 'from womb to tomb', passes without a music or music and dances.

Various songs, musical instruments and dances are connected with various religious, social and cultural life of the Newars Different musical instruments are in practice in the festival, feasts, ceremonies and also in funeral procession.

Musical instruments
It is believed that there are about 200 (two hundred) types of original musical instruments in Nepal, and 108(one hundred eight types) of musical instruments have been found till now. A great number of Newar musical instruments are included init. These instruments can be classified into four classes according to Sangeet Shastra.
i) Membranophones - Dhimay, Dhah, Paschima, NayaKhin etc.
ii) Idiophones - Bhusyah, Chhusyah, TainNain etc.
iii) Chordophones - Piwancha
iv) Aerophones - Muhali, Nekoo, Bansuri etc.

Mostly used musical instruments in Newar societies are membranophones, which are generally accompanied with idiophones and aerophones.



Dhimay is the most common musical instruments amongst the Newars. It is considered as the oldest musical instruments amongst the membranophones. Even though there is no evidence that Mahadeva invented this instruments (as legend says) but there is evidence to support that it dates back to Kirat period. It resembles the Chyabrung of Kirat Rais and Dhola of Tharus. Dhimay is played in almost al ceremonial marches by the Jyapus. They are fund lost in dancing with deep rumble of Dhimay in festivals.

Dhimay is constructed from cylindrical hollowed tree trunk with leather pads at both of its ends. Nowadays, Dhimays are frequently made of brass and other metals. the general size of Dhimay is 20" in length and 16" in diameter .Its left hand hide which sounds much higher is known as Nasah, whilst another hide is called Mankah or Haima. Mankah carries a tunning paste inside. Dhimays are of two kinds: bigger Ma Dhimay and smaller Dhahcha Dhimay or Yalaypoh Dhimay.

Dhimay has capacity to produce a multiple reverberating echo, which is its main feature.

Dhimay is accompanied with Bhusyah (a pair of cymbals). Chhusyah and TainNain is also played in some places. [Audio]

Gunla ( a month according to Nepal Era ) is taken as Buddhist holy month. As Dhah is played during Gunla it is also termed as 'Gunla Bajan'.It looks similar to Dhimay but is Slightly smaller than Dhimay.
Dhah is constructed from cylindrical hollowed tree trunk slightly smaller than that of Dhimay. Tuning paste is stuck at the inner side of Mankah. Tuning paste is made of castor seeds, mustard oils etc.

Besides in the Gunla month, Dhah is also practiced in different dances and other different festivities.

Dhah is accompanied with Bhusyah (pair of cymbals), Tah (smaller cymbals), Muhali (clarinet/trumpets) or Bansuri (flute ). Ponga is also played in Bhairab dance of Thimi. [Audio]

Myth says, Paschima was invented by lord Krishna. This instrument is also known as Mridanga. It is a double headed drum with tuning paste in on hide (Nasah) and dough made of wheat flour is plastered in the other hide (Mankah) before playing.
Paschima is accompanied with Baboocha (thinner cymbals), Tah (thicker cymbal), Muhali (shwam) or Bansuri (flute).

It is another musical instrument used in many rituals. This instruments is mainly played by the Khadgis, however, this instrument is also played by other castes. It is also called as 'NayaKhin' or 'Dyah Khin'. Since it is also played in funeral processions it is also known as 'Seeh Bajan' (funeral drum). Long long ago, there was a tradition to play fanfare on NayaKhin to proclaim the news. In the Malla period, proclaiming by beating of NayaKhin was widely spread.
The NayaKhin looks similar to Dhah but it is smaller. It is constructed from hollowed tree trunk of an average size of 14" length and 7" diameter.

NayaKhin is played by producing a rubbing vibrato in Mankah hide.
Whilst playing as the 'Seeh bajan ', NayaKhin is accompanied with Chhusyah and Kaha. Similarly, whilst playing as the 'Gunla bajan' Tah is also played and instead of Kaha, Muhali is played. [Audio]

DapaKhin has various names: Yakah Khin, Joh khin, Lala Khin, Deshi Khin, for instance. It is double headed drum with tuning paste in both hides. Dapa Khin is mainly played in Dapa Bhajans (traditional hymns). If a single Khin is played it is called Yakah Khin and if two Khins are played, they are called as 'Joh Khin'.
Dapa Khin is accompanied with Tah, Baboo and Bansuri (flute) or Muhali (Shwam).

Koncha Khin
Koncha Khin is single headed drum resembling Tabla. It is also termed as 'Khicha Khwah Khin' as it is said that dogs start to cry when Koncha Khin is played.
Koncha Khin is mainly played in marriage processions and accompanied with baboo, Tah and Baya or Muhali.

Pastah Khin
Also known as Kwatah Khin, Pasta Khin is a combination of Dapha Khin and NayaKhin. Ancient stone images of people playing Pastah Khin signifies its use since ancient time.
Pastah Khin is an important instrument in Bajrayan sect of Buddhism. Pastah Khin is accompanied with Ponga and Tah.

Nagara is a kettle drum played with two sticks. This instrument has been described in purans as Dundubhi, Dundhu, Dundhub, Bheri, Adamber etc. It is often played in pair, known as Joh Nagara. Nagara is also played in Panchai Baja as Damaha. It is too played in Mahakali Dance.It is accompanied with Chhusyah and Muhali.

Dholak resembles Dhah in structure and its playing techniques are similar to that of Paschima. Dholak is played in Dhalcha Bhajans and also accompanies Bansuri. [Audio]

Also known as Damaru, it is a small two headed drum with straps. It is the instrument played by lord Shiva. KantanDabDab is especially played during Mohani Festival.

Magah Khin
This two headed drum with tuning paste at both ends belongs to magar community, however it has become an important part in Newar folk music. It is said that there are fifty four talas of Magah Khin. It is commonly known as Madal. [Audio]

Daha, or a tambourine is a percussion instrument played in Bansuri Bajan or Khin Bajan. It is also used whilst singing songs and in Bhajans.

Though it is not a Newar instrument it has become an integral part in many rituals. Dhyangro is basically played by Jhankris(Witch Doctors) or Kirats.


Muhali is a conical bore shawm, which is played only by Jugi (Kusle) caste.
Jugis are given Khanki (land) for playing Muhali in various occasions. There is a tradition to play Muhali everyday in Phalchas ,i.e. roofed rest places, which tradition is also known as Siwa Yayegu.
Muhali accompanies Dhah, Dapha Khin, Paschima, Nagara and others. Muhali solo is played in Digu puja.

Bansuri (flute)
Bansuri is a woodwind instrument which accompanies mainly Paschima, Dapha Khin or Koncha Khin. Basuri are of three kinds: Ghor, Majhawala and Teep, producing low, middle and high tones.

Baya resembles Bansuri but they are different in construction and playing techniques. Baya accompanies mainly Koncha Khin. Koncha Khin and Baya are played in marriage procession.

Also known as Payantah, Ponga is a long wind instrument made of brass. Pongas are made by Tamoh or Tamrakar (Newar Coppersmith). It accompanies Kwatah Khin and it is also played in Bhailah Pyakhan (Bhairab Dance). [Audio]

Kaha resembles Ponga. It is also known as Indra Baja and it is believed to be invented at the time of Manju Shree. It is played with Naya Khin In many festivals nd also playd in funeral processions. There is a typical caste, called Kabuja, who play Kaha.

Nekoo or horn instrument is the oldest form of musical instruments in the globe. It is played during Gunla month. There are various types of Nekoo, Chatti Nekoo, Thika Nekoo, for instance.

Sankha or konch is an ancient instrument. Playing of Sankha indicates starting of any new work. Sankha is played in 'MahGhah Wonegu' in dec-jan month. It is also played in different worships.


The word 'Tah' comes from ' Tala ' which is derived from 'Tandava' and 'Lasya'. Tah controls Tandava and Lasya of Music. It controls whole rythm of music. Tah is considered as the principle musical instruments among all Newar musical instruments.
Tah, apair os thicker cymbal, is made of Asta Dhatu (an alloy of eight holy metals). It accompanies Dhah, Dapha Khin, Paschima, Koncha Khin, Naya Khin (when played as Gunla Bajab) and others. [Audio]

It is thinner than Tah, however, it is bigger in size. It is also made of Asta Dhatu. It accompanies Dapha Khin, Pachima, Koncha Khin, Dholak and others.

Also known as Sichhya, Chhusyah resembles Baboocha but is bigger in size. It accompanies Naya Khin, Nagara and others. [Audio]

TainNain is a gong, it is played by striking with a stick. It accompanies Dhimay.

It is a percussion instrument consisting of a steel rod bent in the shape rod a triangle. It is played by striking with another steel rod. It is played in Dhalcha Bhajans.

Gan or a bell play a vital role in ceremonial worships such as Shradh, Janko, Ihi and so on. There are various types of bells in practice: Big, Small, Wind bell, Bajra Ghanta, for instance.


Piwancha is two or three stringed instrument. It is especially played by jyapu (Newar farmer)s .Unfortunately, it has been extinct.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2009, 01:04:36 AM »

Mask dances

Mahakali Dance
This is one of the most popular masked dances of the Newars. It is based on the religious story from a Hindu Puran Called 'Mahakali Mahalaxmi'. According to this , the three goddess Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, and Kumari (three of the eight deities that protect the eight directions of Kathmandu Valley and have different ghost followers. These mother goddesses were practiced by Eighty four sidhhas to gain mystic power) came down to heaven to vanquish the demons who spread great misery and hardship among human beings. So the almighty Goddesses waged a great war with the demons and defeated them, thus stabilizing peace and order on earth. This dance shows the great joy and happiness after the great victory over the demons.

Lakhey dance
This is one of the classical dance of Nepal. Once in a year during the festival of Indrajatra which is celebrated for nearly a week during the end of September or first part of October.
According to people's belief, Lakhey are man eating demons living in the dense forest. They hunt animals and people passing through the jungle. Whenever they have a good meal they dance with jog. Previously Lakhey dancers used to select victims for human blood sacrifices.

Monkey dance
it is performed by the teenagers wearing traditional customs and sticks in their hands. The Nepalese still pay great respect to the sacred myths and legends. According the religious epic Ramayan, the dance was performed by the monkeys to express their joy and happiness to their Lord Ram and his wife Sita after their victory over the demon king Ravan of Sri Lanka.

Khyak Dance
Khyaks are supernatural beings. They are believed to be followers of Goods and goddess. They were visible to the people before electricity arrived. They are quite harmless. They simple used to frighten people at night. What the dancers perform is just the expression of Khyak's naughty nature. They perform dances to entertain Gods and Goddess.

Kawan (Skeleton) Dance
According to people's belief, kawans are the evil spirits to be seen mostly at street-crossing and cremation-grounds. They accompany the Gods and Goddess during their adventures. Sometimes they trouble people, causing stomach pain. But one can get rid of it easily by making some offerings, following the advice of a witch doctor.

Devi Daitya Sangram (The battle of Goddess and Demon)
This is dramatic dance form, here the hand some brave demon sees a beautiful girl and immediately falls in love with her. Then he proposes to marry her, but she answers that she will only accept one who can defeat her in a battle. the egoist demon gets very angry and tries to catch her. But it is not possible. They start battling. The demon sees her in every where as the furious. Goddess kali and collapses on the ground with fear. Then the goddess, one who is the universal power stands on him.

Folk Dances

Jyapu- Jyapuni (Dhimey) Dance
This farmer's pair dance is generally performed during the harvest season in their community get together along with lively music and songs.

Indra Apsara (Nymph) Dance
In Veda, Indra is a divine supreme Hero of the Universe, king of Gods, who dances with Nymphs in the Heaven. This event as a memory for the local people of Thimi (Madhyapur) as if dead family members are watching this performance in the Heaven. The dresses of the dancers are, however, influenced by customs of Rana Minister's period. This Dance is in medieval style.

Lusi (Pestle) Dance
This is satirical street performance of social and political life, both on the local and international levels. However, the style of choreography and music are always same, only the story will be different according to time and space.

Charya Dances

Manjushree, believed to have come from Mahachin, holds a special place in Nepalese culture as a Bodhisatwa who made Kathmandu Valley inhabitable by draining the water out of it. Long ago, the Kathmandu valley was a lake. Manjushree with his two consorts Barada and Mokshada came to Kathmandu to pay homage to Lord Swoyambhu.

Bajrayogini, the goddess of yogic practices dances joyfully in bright red color. She is the consort of Heruka and personifies the feminine energy. The temple of Goddess Bajrayogini is situated 3 miles from Kathmandu.

Pancha Buddha
The Pancha Buddha or Five Buddhas are Vairochana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha Buddhas and Amoghasiddhi. Each of these transcendental Buddhas has his particular color, posture, direction and wisdom.

Rakta Ganesh
The image of Rakta Ganesh (Red Ganesh) is generally found along with Mahakala at the entrance to monasteries in the valley as a protective deity. He is elephant headed and has three eyes.

Arya Tara
She is of green color and regarded as a consort of Amoghasiddhi. She protects the suffering beings in crossing the ocean of Samsara, of this life of suffering.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2009, 01:05:15 AM »
Vajrayogini and the Kingdom of Kathmandu: Constructing Polity in Seventeenth-Century Nepal

Bronwen Bledsoe, University of Chicago

So rich is the cultural wealth of the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley that scholarship to date has largely confined itself to documenting the traditions that live on there with a continuity unmatched elsewhere in South Asia. Such studies have, however, largely ignored history as such, looking past the ways in which real historical agents have knowingly ordered their world.
This paper examines the late medieval annexation of the territorially disjunct township of Sankhu by the kingdom of Kathmandu, a move initially impelled by economic advantage, but consistently articulated as participation in encompassing cosmo-political order. Texts from both the center and the periphery of the emergent polity construed the move in terms of a special relationship between Sankhu's premier deity, the goddess Vajrayogini, and the king of Kathmandu.
Most notably, the Poet-King Pratap Malla celebrated Sankhu's integration into his realm in an elaborate Sanskrit inscription of devotion and patronage, likening the local goddess to the supreme deity at the heart of his theist polity. Pratap ordered the social world on the principle of "participation"-sharing, deference, and devotion-to create the paradigmatic Hindu kingdom of his times. Vajrayogini's liturgy was, however, in the hands of Buddhists. These religious specialists independently recorded the terms of Sankhu's participation, royal deference to and support of their own knowledges and procedures for maintaining political and cosmic order.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2009, 01:05:28 AM »
The Ritual Composition of Sankhu, an Ancient Newar Town in Nepal

Bal Gopal Shrestha, Leiden University

Sankhu is an ancient Newar town situated about twenty kilometers northeast of Kathmandu, whose people (about 10,000) mainly live from agriculture and from employment in greater Kathmandu. This study of Sankhu focuses on the ritual composition of the town as the key to its system of values. The main hypothesis of this study is that the distinct entities in this urban oriented society are not defined by socio-economic features but by their ritual composition. Royalty played the most important part in turning a settlement into a cultural center. The legendary history of Sankhu also starts with its establishment as a kingdom, comprising the town and the valley surrounding it. The foundation of that kingdom is attributed to the goddess Vajrayogini, whose shrine is located in the forest above Sankhu.

The temple of Vajrayogini is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus alike. The yearly festival of the goddess is also the main event in Sankhu's ritual cycle. It can be viewed as a re-enactment of the town's foundation. The study takes into account the complete festival cycle of the town and its connection with the network of ritual relations in the Kathmandu Valley at large. This new perspective on Sankhu's ritual composition ultimately deals with the relation between Hinduism and Buddhism, with the interrelationships between the town's 17 castes, and above all with the myriad of socio-religious associations (guthis) which uphold its ritual life.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2009, 01:05:43 AM »
Newar Culture in Nepali Society

Organizer: Katharine N. Rankin, Cornell University
Chair: Lauren Leve, Princeton University
Discussant: A. W. van den Hoek, Leiden University

Newars occupy a complex position in the Nepal nation, and in relation to academic scholarship on it. Though they comprise just one of the many ethnic peoples who make up the country today, Newars were once the independent rulers of the wealthy Kathmandu Valley, which is now the capital of modern Nepal. For many Western scholars and visitors, from the British Resident, Brian Hodgson, to the many tourists who visit Kathmandu each year, Newar culture is perceived to offer a precious glimpse into an archaic world that no longer exists outside of the remote Himalayas. With its many gods, goddesses, castes, and rituals, understanding the richly coherent aspects of Newar culture long proved a fascinating and rewarding task. But recent interest in the politics of representation, combined with increasing ethnic and political unrest in Nepal, have led to new moves to integrate this dominant trend in scholarship with critical questions about how these worlds have been constituted. The papers on this panel continue to draw on long-standing interests in Newar studies such as kingship, religion, ritual, and characteristically Newar guthi associations, but they are newly attuned to questions of power and historical agency, and to Newar life today as the product of a dialogue between inherited tradition and modern influences, local forms of order and the Nepal state. Together, they constitute an argument for bringing diachronic interests to the study of ritual, meaning and society in Nepal and offer a glimpse into recent scholarship on Newar culture.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2009, 01:05:58 AM »
Shantipur Cave and the painting

Rajmile Shrestha
Published in 'Manigal' Monthly
Translated by Nabin Bajra Bajracharya

Nepal is an agricultural country from the beginning. There are many natural resources here but due to a geographical reasons and lack of skill more than 94% people are depending upon agriculture. For this reason, if there is no rainfall at the time of sowing, a crisis arises. There was a crisis arosed here like this three hundred years before. The rainy season passed but there was no rainfall that's why sowing could not be possible. At that time king Pratap Malla was ruling the country. For the welfare of people, the king consulted with the Bajracharyas and Brahmans from the capital and held pujas in Pashupati, Guhyaswori, Swaymabu, Vajrajogini, Changu, Gorkaneswor etc, though there was no rain. The crisis further spread over and suspicion arose.

At that time the old and experienced people gave an advice "there might be rainfall if the painting (painted from the blood of Nagaraja) and books which is kept inside Shantipur cave in Swaymabu could be brought out and kept in the sun". Hearing this, the king gave a permission to Bajracharyas to bring out the painting and books from Shantipur but they could not do that as it was matter of life and death. For this reason, the king himself decided to enter the cave and bring out the paintings and books for the welfare of people, he kept his life in risk. The description of this event when he entered the cave is inscribed in the stone which is remaining till today in Shantipur. According to that inscription, to enter the gate one should walk trampling over the snakes, and demons disturb the way, so it is important to be saved from them. This fearful cave is three storeyed and there are total twenty seven rooms, nine in each floor. The third floor is most dreadful, there are many bats and many demons dancing. They take the lives if they are not satisfied at the time. And in this floor, at the western corner there are fearful snakes and they would wrap up if they are not specially worshiped. But it is in scripted in the stone that if these snakes are specially worshiped, they would help and guide us. For the welfare and benefit of the people the king Pratap Malla went inside this dreadful cave. He entered the Northern room of third floor and in the center of this room" Shantipur Acharya is sitting in Smadhi yoga, there is no skin and flesh in his body only the skeleton, but the vital air of the life was remaining". The king took a permission from him and opened the copper box which is kept in that room and took out the painting and books in the date ' Nepal sambat 778 Ashad krishna chaturthi' and kept in the sun. Soon after then the clouds spread over the sky and also there was a rainfall. Even today when the rainfall is delayed in rainy season, people remember the king Pratap Malla's great help and the paintings of Shantipur Cave.


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Re: A proud Newar
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2009, 01:07:40 AM »
Who are Newars?

The Newar people are the indigenous inhabitants of the valley of Kathmandu. They are the people seen in the greatest numbers in the capital city, and they are found in great numbers in every market town and village in the outlying districts, the hills and the Terai. They are small shopkeepers, big businessmen, importers, exporters, farmers, craftsmen and so on. Among them you will find artisans and caste groups ranging from the lowest to the highest, from sweeper to priest, both Buddhist and Hindu. They are a unique and interesting people, and one of the oldest known groups in Nepal.

Many scholars, foreign and Nepali, have studied the Newars, and much has been published concerning them. The term Newar itself was derived from the name of the country, or vice versa. When we refer to Nepal in association with just the Newar people we usually mean only the Nepal Valley, Kathmandu Valley.

At present the term ‘Newar’ describes a fairly complex group of people. It is not really fair to discuss them under just one title, as has been done with every other group in these pages, but for brevity and uniformity Newars must be treated as one subject here. After all, theirs is a cultural entity, although it is not one single ethnic group in the sense that Gurungs, Magars, or Tamangs are for example. In fact, the Newars were a ‘nation’ apart, until they merged into the larger Nepal formed during the eighteenth century by a large and powerful group that came from outside Kathmandu Valley. These later arrivals, the Shahs of Gorkha and other Chhetris and Brahmans, dominated the valley in short order and set about to unify the country politically, while the Newars underwent a significant process of change.

Today the term ‘Newar’ embraces people of both Mongoloid and Mediterranean physical types who speak both Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language, and Newari, a Tibeto-Burman language which includes some half a dozen dialects.

Because of the complexities in the composition of Newar society, scholars in the past have developed various interesting theories about their origins. The Newari language, although greatly influenced by Sanskrit, is still distinctly a Tibeto-Burman tongue. Although it uses Devanagri script today, it does have its own script as well. Sylvain Levi put forward the theory that Newars migrated to Nepal from “regions north of the Himalayas”.
Some other scholars suggest that the Newars may have originated in South India, with ties or distinct similarities to a Hindu community on the Malabar Coast called the Nair, or Nayar. This theory was probably based on the mere phonetic similarity of terms that describe them and one or two other coincidences of customs. Not believing either of these theories complete. Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf draws his own conclusion that “the bulk of the Newar people had been settled in the Nepal Valley since prehistoric times.”
Regmi, however, speculates that the early Newars may have an ancestry connected with both the Kiranti and the Lichhavis, one-time rulers of the Nepal Valley.

During the course of history a considerable amount of cultural influence has been exerted on the Newar culture by various immigrant groups. These immigrants were ultimately absorbed into the Newar community. Of all the people who migrated to the Nepal Valley, the Malla Kshatriyas of India were the most distinctive. The beginning of Newar civilization is estimated to be around the 6th century B.C. when the Kiratas, Kolliyas, Salmaliyas, Sakyas, Lichhavis and Shresthis combined to form the earliest known group of the Nepal Valley. The Mallas ruled from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, when they were finally replaced by the Shah Kings. The Mallas brought with them the influence of a Hindu socio-religious base. To an otherwise noncaste country they introduced the caste system after the fashion of the Indian Hindu caste hierarchy followed by the Indian immigrants to Nepal.

Today, the bulk of the Newar population is concentrated inside the valley in the large cities of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhadgaun, Kirtipur and half a dozen smaller towns. In addition, a fair number of Newars have settled in villages and markets outside Kathmandu Valley during the course of the last two centuries.

The Newars total nearly 400,000 people, of which fifty-five percent live in Kathmandu Valley. The rest are spread almost equally through the eastern and western hills and adjacent Terai plains. In their movement away from the Valley some Newars, unlike other of Nepal, have made and an exception to an otherwise general rule of migrating eastward; they have settled in the western towns of Pokhara, Tansen, and Butwal, and even in the far western Silgarhi Doti. The differences in migration trends reflect specialization of professions. Newars have always traveled for trade and business, while all other groups, Thakalis excepted, migrate in search of land for farming or for other employment. There have been very few Newars living in these outlying districts who have taken to agriculture as their sole occupation, whereas in Kathmandu Valley great numbers of Newars are strictly farmers.

Newar housetypes in the outlying districts are basically the same as in Kathmandu Valley. Houses are built closely together and line the cobbled streets and alleys. The standard house has several storeys, many and large framed doors and windows, and often a verandah overlooking the street below. Roofs are almost always of tile or slate, with only the few very poorest Newars in the villages using thatch roofing. Elaborately carved wooden doors and windows are the mark of Newar aristocracy.

Subdivisions within Newar society are at the same time unique and involved. One’s religion is either Hindu or Buddhist or even both; and furthermore, one belongs to a particular subgroup which is ranked in order by the rules of the caste hierarchy.

Scholars believe that the Newars were predominantly Buddhist in the early period. Later, Brahman immigrants form India brought Hinduism with them. From the thirteenth century onwards political power came into the hands of the Malla Kings, high caste Hindus, concurrently with the gradual degeneration of Buddhism, which in time incorporated the rigid caste formula. However, the two religious groups have never antagonized each other to any obvious extent; only mutual integration has taken place.

The Gubhajus are traditionally Buddhist priests, but a majority of them work as masons, carpenters, wood carvers, ivory workers, painters, goldsmiths, silver-smiths, brass smiths and bronze smiths. The Bare caste, second in ritual status among Buddhist Newars, are also artisans. These Gubhaju, Bare, and other Newar artisans developed unique architectural monuments, various domestic arts and an urban civilization, a heritage which con-temporary Nepal is proud to claim. The Uray and Shrestha – of either religious group are traditionally businessmen and shopkeepers. In the ritual areas of Kathmandu Valley and throughout the hill districts many shresthas have settled as farmers. In the markets and cities they worked as civil servants or in other professions.

Within the Shrestha community there are three hierarchically ranked groups which describe themselves as chhathare, panch-thare, and char-thare, literally ‘six’-, ‘five’-, and ‘four’-grade Shresthas. The chha-thare are the highest class among them and in fact consider themselves above almost all Newars. They do not call themselves ‘Shrestha’, but use their family names, for example, Pradhan, Malla, Pradhananga, Munshi, Joshi, Rajbhandari, and so on. Some people believe that chha-thare is not the correct word to describe them. The term appears to be a corruption of the Nepali word Chhetri which immediately brings to mind another element of status classification. The chha-thare Shresthas do follow many traditions very similar to those of the Chhetris. Char-thare is the term used slightingly to describe the new entrants from the lower castes.

Uray and Udas are general merchants or craftsmen in various specialized fields.

Jyapus are the farmers of the community, whose grain and vegetable produce is seen in the market places. They use an hoe for field work and never use bullocks as is most generally done in the hill and Terai regions. For carrying loads they use a yoke balanced across the shoulders, slung with two baskets. Jyapus also run domestic errands for wages for other caste people, but culturally and religiously they are interdependent with the Gubhaju, Bare, adn Uray. Kumales are almost exclusively potters by trade.

The following groups, briefly, are the skilled laborer castes who work to make the Newar community run smoothly: the Chhipa are color dyers; Saymi run the oil presses; Kau are blacksmiths; Pun are painters and printers; Mali work as gardeners and florists and also play an important role in the ritual life of the temples by performing as the masked and costumed dancers in ritual performances; Nau are barbers and nail cutters, but they leave cutting the toe nails of anyone beneath the Jyapu caste to the Nay caste of butchers. Duhin are poor agricultural laborers, often called upon to porter loads as well, and are also masked performers in religious dances. Bha have the specific role of pipers during funeral processions. Pore are the keepers of the temples of Tantric deities in addition to being sweepers. Kulu, Pore, Chame and Halahulu are considered the lowest to the Newar caste hierarchy.

First among Hindus are the priestly Deo Brahmans. The Bhatta Misra and Jha Brahman act as temple priests, recite religious texts, and take roles as lawyers, pleaders, and advocates. The Misra and Jha Brahmin were 'adopted' into the Newar community several centuries ago after migrating up form India, but they still maintain contact with their original community in Tirhut in Bihar State. Therefore the Misra and Jha are referred to as "Tirhute Brahman." Other Newars do not consider them Newar. The Deo Brahmans migrated from India to Nepal Valley independently of the Brahmans discussed in the previous chapter. Today there is absolutely no social intercourse at caste levels between the two groups although many are living in close proximity in urban Kathmandu, Patan and Bhadgaun.

The Shrestha Hindus have virtually the same standing ritually and economically as their Buddhist counterparts. But because of the greater political power of the Hindu aristocracy from the time of Malla Kings through to the Rana days, the Hindus have enjoyed more prestige and social recognition. Therefore, there was an incentive to many Buddhist Newars to turn to Hindu ways.

The low caste Jogis are tailors and play musical instruments on special occasions, notably at the weddings of those caste people listed above them.

Marriage customs among Newars are as interesting and often as involved as their social-religious organization.

Marriage is as a rule patrilocal and monogamous. The parents traditionally arrange marriages for their sons and daughters, although modernization of Nepali society, the number of young people choose their own partners is increasing. Marriage by elopement is more commonly practised by the Newars partners must belong to different descent group lineages within the same caste living outside of the large urban areas. The marriage group, among the Shresthas, since they are divided into the three grades discussed earlier, one's marriage partner must be from the same grade as well. Buddhist Newars living in a baha, a residential quadrangle around a central court with Buddhist shrines and temples, consider themselves to be of common descent, and intermarriage therein is a taboo. In some areas the rule of 'seven generations' of descent is also observed; members who fall within the common descent group of seven generations are restricted from intermarriage.

Many Newars- especially Buddhist Newars- do not consider marriage as a particularly sacred or unbreakable union or relationship. It is looked upon from a matter of fact point of view. Divorce is not subject to much criticism. But Hindu Newars tend to follow the attitudes of Brahmans and Chhetris and avoid divorce.

A majority of Newars observe the symbolically arranged marriage of their daughters with a bel fruit before they ever marry a man. The bel fruit marriage is done when the girl is seven to nine years old, or before she attains puberty; and since it is the general belief of Hindu and Buddhist Newar communities that a proper marriage with full rites can be held only once in a lifetime, her subsequent marriages, if any, are considered of only secondary importance. Although a Newar girl marries a boy later on with almost the full ritual, the girl retains her marital status with the bel fruit. So a woman can, if she wishes, break her marriage with her husband by giving the gift of areca nuts she received during the wedding back to him by putting those areca nuts beside the dead body of her husband in the event of his death. The wife, by this act, becomes free to enter into another marriage union and also escapes the obligation of mourning for the death of her husband.

The Newar marriage is completed after several stages of formalities. At first the father of the boy locates a girl whom he considers to be a suitable bride for his son. Then he appoints one of his relatives as a mediator to carry on the negotiations back and forth. Meanwhile, the horoscopes of both the boy and the girl are analyzed by an astrologer who determines whether the two will make a good match. Once it is agreed that the horoscopes are compatible, several presentations of small gifts of food, sweets, areca nuts and fruits are sent to the girl's parents by the boy's parents. The wedding ceremonies follow.

On the day before the marriage ceremony a pathi, or about one gallon, of milk with some molasses and cardamom is sent to the girl's home. This ceremony, called duradai, is a symbolical act of repayment to the girl's mother for suckling her. The following evening, the girl's parents give a feast to their relatives and friends. The invitees bring their gifts for the girl, usually brass and copper bowls and silver plates and spoons. The maternal uncle of the girl usually bring a goat. The mother gives her a box for keeping vermillion powder, and her father gives a bronze mirror.

On this same wedding evening a procession is organized at the house of the boy. The party consists mostly of male relatives and friends of the family, numbering a hundred or more depending upon the status of the family. After having been entertained with sweets, dried fruits, betel nuts and cigarettes, they leave for the girl's house preceded by a musical band. Except in a very few cases among the chh-thare Shresthas, the groom stays behind at his own house. The procession usually arrives at the girl's house between nine and ten o'clock at night. The members are entertained again with sweets and nuts, after which all but the groom's father and few close relatives return to their own houses. After midnight the girl is carried in a hammock (This is being replaced by cars in the urban areas) slung on a long pole to the house of a friend of the boy's father, who accompanies her. Some people take the bride directly to the groom's parents' house.

Early the next morning the bride is taken to the groom's house and welcomed at the gate by her mother-in-law. The bridegroom's mother bathes the bride's feet with holy water, gives her a key and takes her into the house. Inside, a priest completes the ritual, invoking and offering food to various deities. At the end, the bride distributes areca nuts to all members of the family including the groom. This day's ceremony is completed as the bride and groom eat riutal food from the same plate.

In the evening a big feast is provided to friends and relatives at which a son-in-law of the bridegroom's family serves curds, the bridegroom's mother serves wine, and the groom serves sweets.

The following day the bride is formally received into the family kitchen where they all eat boiled rice and other food. The day after that the bride is taken to the family deity where the family priest conducts a ceremony wherein the groom combs the hair of his bride, puts medicated oils in her hair and applies verimilion to her forehead. This evening the bride's father, accompanied by a few near relatives, comes to fetch her back to his house where she is offered fruit, nuts and liquor. The groom is invited to accompany her and on arriving there is offered sweets, nuts and the like. Following these simple observances of respect for the new marriage relationship between families, the groom returns home with his bride to make a home within his larger extended family.

The Newar woman in her husband's house has much more authority and freedom than her Brahman or Chhetri counterpart. She is readily accepted into the extended family group and adapts quickly to her new role in relation to the family and in particular to the husband.