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Newari Culture


 

Nepal People "Newar" 

The natives of Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu, the Newars, are mainly traders. With a purpose to trade, they are scattered across the country; with greater concentration in the Kathmandu Valley, Banepa, Dhulikhel, Bhojpur, Bandipur and Tansen .
In the Kathmandu valley, they make 44% of total population. Nationally, however, they make about 5.6% of total population. Despite the small percentage numerically, they contribute significantly in the history, art, architecture and business activities in the country. They are in to the business and government services; business being their main profession. They have negligible representations in the army and police services. Quite a number also have agriculture as their main occupation. These agrarian population are known as "jyapus".

 Newars speak their own language, ' Newari' better known as Nepal Bhasa which belongs to Tibeto - Burman family of languages. It has its own scripts and has no linguistic connection to Nepali, Hindi or Sanskrit. The Newari script, the 'Ranjana lipi' is exceptional. The Newari literature is also very rich. There are Buddhist and Hindu Newars as well. Like elsewhere in the country, religious syncretism is blended into the culture and tradition.

 The written history of the Newars is 2,5000 years old during which they developed their impeccable culture and arts into a great civilization. Newars maintained their unique kingdom even during the various reigns of the Gopala, Kirat, Licchavi and Malla dynasties. The Shahs finally amalgamated the Newar nation state in their unification drives.

They celebrate numerous feasts and festivals throughout the year. Newars havewell defined occupational caste system among themselves. Though some Newars have Mongoloid features, they rather represent a community of different elements mixed together. Besides their rich cultural heritage, festivals, the Newars are impeccable artists and architects.

Among the Newar community, an interesting ancient tradition, known as 'Ihi or Bel Biha' , requires that a young girl often 7 or 8 years old, be married to a certain tree called 'Bel tree' or to its green fruit called 'Bel'. The tree and the fruit symbolize a deity called 'Hiranya Garbha'. Among the deities, Hiranya Garbha is one of the immortals. Thus marriage with 'Hiranya Garbha' is considered to be everlasting.

To put it in a nutshell, the Newars, though small in numbers, have a very strong and dominating influence in Nepal's economy, politics and society in general.

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