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Kathmandu Valley and Newar People

Kathmandu Valley and Newar People

Cultural learning of Kathmandu Valley and Newar People excites many travellers. In past, Kathmandu is regarded just a staging place for expeditions, the capital city they go through to get to the Himalayas. Trek organizers typically set aside a day for shopping and a standard half-day tour that switch through some of the prominent religious sites. Impressive as these are, they give scarcely a glimpse of the real architectural and artistic glories of the Katmandu Valley, which are the legacy of its indigenous inhabitants, the Newars. Until conquered by the Gorkhas, who unified Nepal in 1768-69, the three cities of the Katmandu Valley – Katmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur  were separate Newar kingdoms. Their artists and craftsmen, whose skill was noted by visitors as early as the seventh century, left their stamp on the art of Tibet and China.

 

Assimilation of Culture

Nepal forms an important link with the rest of India from the point of ethnology. It is the meeting ground of two powerful cultures – Indian and Tibetan. No where, perhaps in the other regions of Himalaya, is the ethnic conflict, co-operation and mutual assimilation so dynamic and strong as in this country. Nepal is one of ‘the fringe-lands where caste society changes to non-caste society’. Hinduism, being the creed of the ruling group of the country, it purports to manifest the rigidity that Manu would have wished for. For many centuries the process of proselytization has been going on. While Hinduism is transforming slowly and steadily the local people with the concomitant changes in moral values, it has not remained unaffected by the local culture. Truly speaking, the process is that of causing change and getting changed. Hinduism has, therefore, modified itself to a considerable extent by picking up the local beliefs and practices and assimilating them in itself. It can be likened to a huge structure, which has in every way retained its external appearance, keeping however, enough flexibility inside to accommodate alien elements. Yet another important aspect of the Nepalese ethnology is the form of unity among diversities. Within her limited geographical bounds, the country exhibits a variety of ethnic groups, each representing a totally different world, yet possessing the common thread of uniformity which runs through all of them.

 

Origin of Newar

The origin of the Newars is a controversial question. From their history and traditions, and we very clearly know that the present Newar population is a complex of many ethnic groups. Historian believes, the traditions of the individual castes fully suggest  that the present Newars are drawn from the Abhiras, the Kiratas, the Lichhavis, the Vaishya Thakuri and the Kanatakas, apart from the fact that there might have been some ethnic group which provided the foundation for the present Newar type. It Is very difficult to say who were the fore-runners of the present Newars. There is not one tradition but many and these suggest fully, the assimilation of diverse groups into a compact whole. But before we discuss this, let us take into consideration the problem of the origin of the term Newar.

 

Habitat of Newar People

The main habitat of the Newars is the Valley or Kathmandu which occupies the tract between the basins of the river Gandak and the Koshi, It Is called by various other names such as the Nepal Valley or simply Nepal. It is formed by the bifurcation of the ridge running towards south from the higher ranges of the Himalaya. To know its location in the context of the surrounding region, let us deal briefly with the geography of Nepal in general.

The Kathmandu Valley is surrounded by the high mountains completely sealing it off from the outside world except for the narrow gorge through which the river Bagmati quits. Its northern wall is the Shivapuri range; the eastern, the Hahadeo- Pokhari; the southern, the Mahabharat; and the western, the mount of Kakani

Note: These fact are based upon the history and cultural learning; migrations have resulted significant changes at present.

 

Cultural Learning of Newar People:

The culture, heritage, food, tradition and festivals of Newar people are very interesting and fascinating. The rituals and detailed information about the sacraments of Newar from birth, stages of life and death are followed in next page…

 

Festivals of Newar:

Newar culture is very rich in pageantry and ritual throughout the year. Many festivals are tied to Hindu holidays, Buddha’s birth and the harvest cycle. Newars’ festivals start from Gathanmugah and ends in Sithi Nakhah. 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

 

Some of the popular festivals for visitors are:

  • Gai Jatra
  • Indra jatra
  • Machhindra Nath Jatra
  • Yomari Punhi
  • Rato Machindranath Jatra
  • Bisket Jatra
  • Buddha Jayanti

 

A reflection of the culture, tradition & heritage of Nepal (Newar)  with modern Nepali song…

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