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The Journal of Newar Studies - Number 6, NS 1128 / 2007-2008 Shakya, Daya R 2008

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^ s Newah Vijnana
The Journal of Newar Studies
ISSN 1536-8661
 ii28Numhcr-6 2007/08
Intl. Nepal Bhasha Sewa Samiti
Center For Nepalese
Language & Culture
Portland, Oregon USA
Daya R Shakya
Assistant Editors
Sudip R. Shakya
Subin Shakya
Prof. Todd Lewis
Sudip Shakya
Mailing Address
Newah Vijnana
1719 NE 47th Ave
Portland, OR 97213
Source: Nepal Mandala Forum,
Shankhadhar Sakhwa
In a relatively short time span, Nepal has gone through various phases of change,
especially in political scenario. From our previous issue of Newah Vijnana till
now, we witnessed the second jana andolan uprising and afterwards the Nepalese
people got a rare opportunity to choose their own government. Even though the
final version of constitution has not been finalized, the Nepalese people succeeded
in bringing the interim constitution that guaranteed the right to preserve, promote,
and develop their own language and cultural heritage. Now, Nepal is no longer
recognized as a monolingual country but the current constitution recognizes all
languages of Nepal as National languages. However, the Khas language is still
mentioned as the language of official use and 238 years of Shah dynasty was put
on hold until the constitutional assembly election is held. During the Shah dynasty,
especially Rana and Panchayat period, Newars have experienced various kinds of
suppressive hassle including education, communication and public services.
Furthermore, the past government has also devalued the importance of Nepal Sambal. For the last 28 years, the Newar people have struggled for recognition of Nepal Sambat as the national calendar of Nepal. It was not until secondy'ana andolan
that Honorable Prime Minister Koirala assured that Nepal Sambal as its national
calendar cannot be ignored. Since then, all government media started using it as
the original calendar of Nepal. However, the struggle has not ended because the
government regulation is still running under foreign-born calendar, the Bikrain
Sambal. The Nepalese communities around the globe are still celebrating the Bikrain Sambat as the official Nepalese New Year and use of Bikrain Sambal as a
Nepali calendar is still prevalent but we believe that its use will soon end.
Not only Nepal Sambal but also the consideration o[ reestablishing Nepal Mandala
as a state, has also surfaced. Nepal Mandala is not a new word but it has come
down to Nepalese people from the ancient time. According to recently established
Nepal Mandala Forum (NMF), the 12 adjacent districts of current Kathmandu Valley used to be known as boundary of ancient Nepal Mandala. We encounter such
evidences on existence of Nepal Mandala in a chant done in Sanskrit verses by a
Newar Buddhist priest. This chant is used to resume the ritual offered to any deity
and to recognize the host person by honoring the cosmic details and it is still in
practice. Due to numerous undocumented historical evidences, historians struggle
to gain full support to recognize the actual boundary of Nepal Mandala. Currently,
Nepal Valley consists of yen (Kantipur), yala (Lalitpur), and khwapa (Bhaktapur)
but Newar settlements such as Dolakha, Dhulikhel, Ncwakot. Chitlang. Tistung
and Falling regions are ignored. We believe that these regions were within the
boundaries of ancient Nepal Mandala and it shall not be overlooked.
Focusing our attention to current issue of Newah Vijnana, we have included an
article dealing with Nepal Sambal and Buddhist chant for further understanding
of this matter. In addition, we have also included articles dealing with Newars
in Sikkim, Newar linguistics, the Newar tradition of Kumari and many others as
supplementary material to bring awareness of current issues on Newars. We recognize that the struggle for the Newah identity, both academically and personally, is
still in its infancy but we can say that the progress is gaining remarkable strength.
We hope that articles in Newah Vijnana provide an understanding of this Newah
struggle. We are grateful for your continuous support and we look forward to include more articles in future issues. Suhhave 'thank vou". ONTENTS
^^^^_    _^^^Newah Vijnana
^^^H^^^-Hi: M^iM
AD 2007-08                                        Number 6
BS 2064-(
NS 1128
Ritual and Identity in Diaspora: The Newars in Sikkim
Bal Gopal Shrestha
Buddhist Hymns and the Renaissance of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal
Phra Sugandha (Anil Sakya)
Newar Classifiers: A Summary of the Literature
Gwendolyn Hyslop
Taboo Words and Expressions in Newar Language
Tej R. Kansakar
Kumari in Newar Culture
Dr. Chunda Bajracharya
Newah Solidarity Campaign
Maheswor Shrestha
Viewpoint On Nepal Sambat
Roshan Shrestha
Nepalbhasa Online Founded for Newah Languoge and People
Book Review:
NewarfNepal Bhasha)
Caturmasa Celebration of Death
Introducing an Unusual Book 'Upadesh Sangraha' in Nepal Bhasha
Miscelleneous Materials
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117 Ritual and Identity in the Diaspora:
The Newars
in Sikkim
Bal Gopal Shrestha
Leiden University
The Newars are the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The word Newar is derived from the
name of the country Nepal itself. Despite the 1769 Gorkha
conquest of the Nepal Valley and their subjugation by the
state, the Newars managed to maintain their distinct arts,
crafts, culture and traditions. Their culture has remained
highly influential throughout the history of Nepal (Toffin
1984 and 1993; Levy 1992; Gellner 1996). The Newars
are also considered to be a skilled and successful trading
community, and their involvement in trans-Himalayan
trade was already well established many centuries ago.
They have succeeded in maintaining this image in Sikkim
also (Subba 1989: 134; Sinha 1981: 192). As an educated
community, the Newars also occupy many important administrative posts in both Nepal and Sikkim.
The Newars of Nepal have been widely studied (e.g. Nepali 1965; Toffin 1984, 1993; Levy 1992; Gellner 1996;
Shrestha 2002). Ample literature exists on the Nepali diaspora both in India and Bhutan (Stibba & Datta 1991;
Timsina 1992; Hutt 1994, 1997) and on Sikkim as a state
(Temple 1977; Nakane 1979; Jha and Mishra 1984; Bha-
sin 1989; Subba and Datta 1991; Dhamala 1991; Lama
2001 and Sharma and Sharma 1997). However, no research has yet been carried out on the Newar diaspora
in Sikkim. This is partly due to the fact that Sikkim remained largely closed to outsiders even after it merged
with India in 1975. In fact, little research has been carried
out on the Nevvar diaspora in general and the few studies which exist refer to the Newar diaspora inside Nepal
(Lewis & Sakya 1988).
Although the Newars of Sikkim are numerically very few
they have played an important role in ethnic politics and
are active in trying to promote their language, culture,
rituals, traditions and religions across Sikkim. At a time
when Newars in the homeland are facing various problems including threats to their language and culture because of state negligence and globalisation, the Newars
of Sikkim are actively preserving their cultural heritage
and language. In 1998, the State Government of Sikkim introduced several laws and sanctioned state budget
lines to facilitate the promotion of the languages and cultures of the Newars and other groups (Pradhan and Josee
1998). The school curriculum now includes the Newar
language, and language interpreters are employed in the
State Legislature to translate speeches delivered in Nevvar
into other languages. In 2003, the State Government of
Sikkim also recognised the Newars as an Other Backward Class (OBC), for whom a percentage of jobs and
higher studies are now reserved. It is notable that in their
homeland, Nepal, Newars and other ethnic groups have
so far achieved very little recognition of their cultural and
linguistic rights (Kraemer 1996; Gellner 1997; Shrestha
1999). Against this background the Nepalese minorities'
achievements in Sikkim are significant.
From January to March 2004, I travelled to and resided
in Sikkim and Kalimpong to conduct anthropological research on the Newars of India. During my stay in Sikkim,
I was able to gather a wealth of information on various
aspects of the Newar diaspora community resident in the
state. More specifically, this fieldwork gave me a good
opportunity to meet members of the community who
were active in reviving their language, culture and rituals. I was permitted to observe their religious and ritual
activities and to experience how the diaspora Newars are
determined to revive and preserve their heritage. My findings are presented in this paper.
Historical Background
Although the question of early migration is still to be
addressed by historians, it is believed among Newars of
Shrestha/ Ritual and Identity...Newars in Sikkim Darjeeling and Sikkim that some of their ancestors began
migrating lo the region soon after the Gorkha conquest of
Nepal in 1769. Tanka Subba writes: 'a few family histories of the Newars of Sikkim reveal that their ancestors
migrated lo Sikkim al the time of consolidation of Nepal
by the Gorkha King Prithivi Narayan Shah' (1989: 1). This
suggestion remains problematic because the Gorkhas had
not entered the south-western regions of Sikkim until the
first Gorkha-Sikkim war of 1788-1789. They were further
made to evacuate following the Anglo-Gorkha Treaty of
Sugauli (1815).
Many have suggested that with the arrival of the legendary Laksmidas Pradhan (Kasaju), a Newar from Bhaktapur, in Sikkim, many other Newars migrated there also.
There are a number of stories in circulation about how
and when Laksmidas left Nepal. While some suggest that
Laksmidas escaped from the Nepal valley to save his life
right after the Kot massacre of 1846, others believe thai he
left Nepal long before this incident. According to Bhuvan
Prasad Pradhan, Laksmidas and his family had already
moved from Bhaktapur to Kathmandu and were engaged
in business there when he escaped from Nepal (Pradhan
1993: 4-5), but Cakraraj Timila believes that Laksmidas and his family were living in the Inaycho quarter of
Bhaktapur at the time of his departure1. Both Cakraraj
and Bhuvan Prasad provide vivid accounts of Laksmidas'
tribulations after he left home and before he ended up in
Sikkim. According to Cakraraj, Laksmidas first began his
trade in Darjeeling by selling gundruk, a form of dried
and fermented vegetable. Bhuvan Prasad Pradhan (1993:
9) writes that the location where Laksmidas used to sell
gundruk is still known as Gundri Bazaar to this day. Only-
later did Laksmidas succeed in establishing himself as a
successful businessman in Darjeeling.
On 1 February, 1835, the East India Company took over
Darjeeling, ending Sikkim's control of the area. While in
18.39 Darjeeling was home lo only 100 people, within ten
years its population had reached 10,000. In the following thirty years, Darjeeling saw a rapid population growth
with the continuing influx of Nepalese migrants. In 1901,
the Newar population of Darjeeling was 5,880 of a total
population of 249,117 (O'Malley 1907: 43). The British gov eminent also made Laksmidas the first Municipal
Commissioner of Darjeeling.
Daya Prasad Pradhan writes that Laksmidas and his brother Chandravir arrived in Sumbuk around 1850 (1997: 2).
Similarly. Pranab Kumar Jha states: 'Laksmidas Pradhan
with his uncle Keshav Narayan came to Darjeeling in
1853 from Nepal and probably no other Newar had come
to Darjeeling before them' (1985: 130). He further suggests thai they settled in Sikkim in 1867 in order to work
at the copper mine in Tukkhani in South Sikkim and went
on to work in a number of other copper mines later. Some
Newars of Sikkim have suggested that the then king invited Laksmidas lo Sikkim lo act as the collector of land
revenues, as Laksmidas had become famous in Darjeeling
as a successful businessman.
After the 1861 treaty was signed between British government and Sikkimese authorities, the British began to
encourage Nepalese settlers in Sikkim.2 Some ministers, Lamas and Kazis, including Chebu Dewan as well
as Maharaja Sidkeong Namgyal and his sister, were opposed to Nepalese settlers in Sikkim. However, Pranab
Kumar Jha writes, in 1867, during the reign of Maharaja
Sidkeong Namgyal the Sikkimese authorities accorded a
formal lease grant to Laksmidas Pradhan. In an appeal
to the Government of Bengal to protect his land rights
and possessions in Sikkim, Laksmidas had received the
lease from the Lama Shahib of Phodong and the Rajah of
Sikkim.3 Lal Bahadur Basnet also mentions the formal
granting of a lease in 1867 to two Newar brothers (1974:
44). Daya Prasad Pradhan has published a family note
outlining the partition of the lands received in 1867 by
Laksmidas and his son Laksmi narayan Pradhan, Chandravir Pradhan and his son Maheshwor Pradhan, Kancha
Chandravir Pradhan and his son Laksminarayan Pradhan, Lambodar Pradhan and his son Laksmidas Pradhan
(1997: 37, Appendix Ka). Despite this documentation, I
could not trace any formal written deeds regarding the
1867 land lease to Laksmidas.
The lease of lands to Laksmidas was continued in latter years by Kliansa Dewan and Phodong Lama, both of
whom were considered to be pro-immigration leaders. A
deed dated 1874 stales that Phodong Lama and Khangsa
Dewan leased lands to Laksmidas, Chandravir, Jitman
and Lambodar in exchange for payments of Rs. 500 to the
Rajah and Rs. 700 to Lama and Khangsa Dewan. The area
of land mentioned in the deed was as follows:
Boundary of land on the North of East from Rooe
Naddi to its confluence to the Tista River, on the
East South all along the Tista river, on the South and
W:est all along the Burra Rungit up to ils suspension
Bridge over the Rungit river, on the North-West from
the Rungit suspension Bridge along the old road up
to Pukka village along the Government Road to Ko-
olow Ektompani, from the Jhora of Koolow Eklorp-
pani up to the Manfur river, on the East from the
North of Manfur all along the Manfur Jhora up to
its source.4
The deed also authorised the Nevvar settlers to investigate
and fine criminal acts according to Nepalese legal custom,
with the exception of murder eases. The Newar migrants
in Sikkim were also responsible for introducing a range
Newah Vijnana-6 of new technologies and crops in the agricultural sector
in Sikkim.
Laksmidas invited his brother, Kancha Chandravir Pradhan (Kasaju), from Nepal to assist him as his own responsibilities increased. There are a number of stories in
circulation about this Chandravir. According to Bhuvan
Prasad Pradhan, Chandravir was a wrestler and to this
day, people in Sikkim tell of how, with this great physical
strength, he overpowered individuals who went against
the rules, denied paying revenues or even attacked Nepalese settlers.
As the head of Nepalese settlers in Sikkim, Laksmidas
began inviting hundreds of Nepalis to Sikkim to look after
the lands under his control, including Magars from the
hills and Newars from Bhaktapur of a variety of different
castes. In this manner, a large number of Newars were
migrating to and settling in Sikkim by the beginning of
the 1870s.5 Quoting a passage from the History of Sikkim, Chie Nakane confirms that Sikkim saw an influx of
Nepalese Gorkhalis from 1871 (1966: 251).
In the 1870s, mining copper was added to the responsibilities held by Laksmidas. The Sikkimese court was divided on the issue of Nepalese migration. On account of
these divisions, Jha writes, trouble and riots sometimes
broke otit between Laksmidas Pradhan, the head of the
Nepalese community, and Lasso Kazi, the Sikkim Vakeel
in 1872 (1985: 56). A document dated simply as 3rd day
of the 3rd month of the Tibetan year Iron Dragon (1880?)
under the king Thutob Namgyal, describes a riot in Rhenock between pro- and anti-Nepalese groups. The same
document also mentions the fines slapped on those who
disobeyed the Newar leader given authority to collect
taxes and govern.6
The exact date of the birth and death of Laksmidas remains unclear. His son Lambodar owned the largest
landed property in Sikkim and the British honoured him
with the title Rai Saheb for his sen ice and loyalty to the
colonial authorities. Quoting family papers, Jha offers the
following copper mines as ones in which Laksmidas and
his family worked in: TukKhani nearTurukin South Sikkim, Rinchi Khani in Rinchinpong in West Sikkim, Bho-
tang Khani near Rangpo Bazar in East Sikkim, Pachey
Khani near Rhenock in East Sikkim and Rathok Khani in
Namthangin South Sikkim (1985: 130).
In the past, traders in Sikkim had practiced the barter system. The British authorities later granted them permission
to use Nepalese currency in Sikkim as some Nepalese
traders requested for it to be permitted in 1849 to ease
their trade.7 In 1881, following a request from Nepalese
traders, the king of Sikkim formally sought approval from
the British authorities in India to begin minting Sikkim's
own coins. On 4 June 1881, the Bengal Government replied granting the Sikkimese authority to mint their own
currency (Sharma and Sharma 1997: 45-47). Subsequently, on the 3rd day of the 10th month of the Water-Sheep
year in the Tibetan calendar, the Palace in Sikkim wrote to
Laksmidas granting him permission to start minting. The
relevant portion of the text translated from the original
Tibetan is provided below-
fit? it known to all the Monks and laymen residing
within the Kingdom in general and those led by tlie
Newar trader Lakshmidar in particular that in accordance with their request made in the petition
submitted by the latter requesting for permission to
mint coins (doli) we Itad written to Lord Eden Saheb
through the Political Officer and obtained his concurrence. In pursuance thereof order has been issued
to Lakshmidar, the Newar Trader, and others communicating grant of permission to mint coins.s
In 1883, having been given the contract to mint for five
years, Laksmidas introduced the first Sikkimese coins
into the market.9 The mint did not last long: it was ended
in 1887.
There are also a number of stories abottt Chandravir
Pradhan (Maske), another Nevvar in Sikkim, who is also
believed to be one of the earliest Newars to settle in the
kingdom. According to Daya Prasad Pradhan, Chandravir
Pradhan came from Nepal to Darjeeling with his father
at the age of five in 1830, and later moved to Sikkim for
business in 1845.10 He cooperated with Laksmidas in
various contracts (thekeclarTi and they also collaborated
in mining copper and minting coins for the Sikkimese
government. The title of taksari 'minter' was bestowed
by the Sikkimese government on Laksmidas, Chandravir
Kasaju, Chandravir Maske, Jitmansing Pradhan, Marghoj
Gurung and Pratapsing Chetri for their contributions in
minting coins for the state.
British officers found Laksmidas, Chandravir and their
families to be extremely reliable partners. There are a
number of testimonials written by British government officers to Laksmidas and Chandravir dated between 1875
and 1895. One such testimony dated 31 May, 1875, states
that the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal was satisfied with
Chandravir's performance at the copper mines of Katong
Ghat in Sikkim. A similar testimony dated June 1895
praises Laksmidas for his contributions in road construction in Sikkim.11
Laksmidas was also engaged in lending money to government officers in Sikkim. A handwritten document dated
1882 preserved by Mrs. Kalpana Pradhan of Tadong
Shrestha/ Ritual and Identity...Newars in Sikkim tells that a person named Yamthang Kaji, a high-ranking
Sikkimese government officer, borrowed money from
Laksmidas and did not pay him interest nor return the
money he had borrowed. In a formal letter, Laksmidas
requested the then king of Sikkim to take the necessary
steps to arrange for the loan to be paid, including the accrued interest.
Laksmidas and his family owned many estates in Sikkim.
Jha provides the following list of their holdings in 1913:
Kitam, Chidam, Namthang, Singtam and Chakung owned
by Rat Saheb Lambodar Pradhan; Pakyong, Rungpo,
Pedang, Rigoo, Pathing and Temi owned by Rai Saheb
Laksminarayan Pradhan, Ney and Broom owned by Suri-
man Pradhan; Pachey Khani and Taza owned by Dalba-
hadur Pradhan; Rhenock owned by Ratnabahadur Pradhan and Manning owned by Sherbahadur Pradhan (1985:
Many of the descendants of Laksmidas, Chandravir
Kasaju and Chandravir Maske received the prestigious
title of Rai Saheb from the British administration. They
were also renowned as landlords (zamindar) or contractors (thekedar). One among them was Rai Saheb
Balkrishna, popularly known by the name 'Baburam',
and the grandson of Laksmidas. He built the famous
baunna dhoka darbar 'the palace with fifty-two doors' in
Namthang. The then king of Sikkim found this construction embarrassingly ostentatious, as it was only fitting
for kings of Nepal to make palaces with fifty-two doors.
Consequenth', Baburam was fined a rupee, a large amount
for the time. Baburam, however, being a wealthy landlord, chose lo rather pay one thousand rupees and close
one of the doors of his palace (Pradhan 1998: 55). Ba-
buram's historic mansion still stands in Namthang, where
his grandson Dharma Pratap Kasaju and his family now
reside. It is interesting to note that the Chief Minister.
Pavvan Kumar Chamling, inaugurated the first Institute
of Nevvar Language and Culture in Sikkim at this very
site in 2000. Local Newars tell that whenever Baburam
left his house a band would accompany him and that any
British officers who visited the area were also received
with a band. A song was even composed with his name:
kasko baja. kasko baja. Baburamko baja 'Whose band is
it? Whose band is it9 It is the band of Baburam', and is
still popular among the people in Sikkim.
A house similar to the Palace in Namthang was also built
in Pachey Khani by one of Chandravir Pradhan's descendants. A Newar styled jhingate ghar, a house with a tiled
roof, was also constructed by the descendants of the late
Chandravir, but the historic building is now in a dilapidated state. The chairman of the Sikkim Nevvar Organisation
has suggested that the building be renovated as one of the
important Newar heritage sites.
Several of the descendants of Laksmidas, Chandravir
and Chandravir Maske also built temples, health centres
and schools in different parts of Sikkim. Nowadays, the
descendants of Laksmidas, his brother Chandravir and
Chandravir Maske, who can be found across Sikkim, are
still considered to be quite socially well-to-do.
In the course of my research, it became clear that the Nepalese migration to Sikkim continued through the twentieth century. An unpublished family genealogy which
I received from Dhruba Pradhan Bhansari tells that his
forefathers moved to Sikkim from Boya Bikhumca in
eastern Nepal in 1870. In a brief unpublished memoir,
Chakraraj Timila, who has now returned to Nepal and
lives in Bhaktapur, writes how his grandfather, father and
uncle left Bhaktapur to set up grocery shops in the Tista
area in 1917. In 1918, his father and uncle married the
daughters of Sikkimese Newars, and then settled down
there. For some people it is still a living memory. For instance, the 63-year old Mr. Maniklal Pradhan of Tashid-
ing told me that he came to Sikkim with his father when
he was only five years old. For a period, he remembers
travelling back and forth to Nepal to his ancestral home
in Banepa. Others, however, do not remember when their
ancestors moved to Sikkim and from which part of Nepal they came. Many have just a vague sense of which
part of Nepal their forefathers inhabited before coming
to Sikkim, and they have never returned to their ancestral
homeland in Nepal.
The Newars of Sikkim appeared engaged not only as traders and landlords but also as officials in the Sikkimese
government, serving at the Palace and the royal court in
Gangtok since 1910. Some Newars became magistrates
of towns and villages, with the authority to adjudicate in
dispute settlements. A few also became councillors, a post
similar to that of Minister during the rule of the Chogyal.
After the merger of Sikkim with India, a few Newars
succeeded in occupying ministerial positions in the State
Government of Sikkim. Other Newars are also known as
social reformers and educators in Sikkim. To honour such
individuals, the Government of Sikkim named roads after
them, for instance, the Kashi Raj Pradhan Marg (Road) in
Gangtok, named after Kashi Raj Pradhan who is remembered across Sikkim as a reformer and an educator.
The 1891 census of Sikkim returned 727 Newars out of
a total population of 30,558 Sikkim.12 In 1994, the total
population of the Newars was 20,000 while the present
Newar population is estimated to lie between 30,000 and
35, 000.
Socio-Economic Position
Newah Vijnana-6 The Newars of Sikkim are engaged in various occupations, including governmental service, politics, teaching,
agriculture, trade and business. According to Keshav
Chandra Pradhan, from the 1910s until the 1980s, Newars occupied many important administrative posts, but the
figure has been dropping steadily as members of other
groups have gradually replaced them. At present, Mr. Rajiv Shankar Shrestha and Kirs. Jayshree Pradhan serve as
Principal Secretaries, and are among a handful of Newars
still occupying high-level posts in the Sikkimese administration. During my field research, two Newars were present as elected members of the 32-seat Sikkim Legislative
Assembly. Both were members of ruling Sikkim Democratic Front, and for some time one had been a cabinet
minister. In the May 2004 election, however, only one of
them was able to contest the election and was returned as
a MLA from the constituency of Gangtok.
The Newars are still renowned as traders and remain
engaged in diverse businesses and industries. Many are
engaged in tourism, hotels, handicrafts, bakeries, transport and the publishing media. Among them, the Bhansari
family's Tripti bakery is one of Sikkim's most prominent
industries. Similarly, Babu Kaji Shakya, a Gangtok-
based sculptor, has won many prestigious Indian national
awards for his contributions to the handicraft industry of
Sikkim. Shakya produces traditional Nepalese-style Buddhist and Hindu images, statues and jewellery. He owns
a workshop in Rumtek and has a showroom in Gangtok,
and one of his sons is following in his father's footsteps.
A few Newars, such as R.K. Pradhan of Rhenock, are engaged in the film industry.
tiative, he has gathered old coins, notes, historical documents, manuscripts, books, driftwood and drift stones.
Mr. Pradhan also grows bonsai and hybrid plants in his
family garden. His contributions have not only won many
prizes but also admiration and praise from all over Sikkim. During my fieldwork in 2004,1 had the good fortune
to view his archival collections. The Newar community
of Sikkim are rightfully proud of Mr. Jaslal Pradhan, who
participated in the Olympics as a player and boxing coach
for India.
Data from 1989 would suggest that 27% of the total Newar
population of Sikkim own less than 5 acres of land, while
66% are landless and that only 10% of Sikkimese Newars
possess assets in urban areas (Shrestha 1996: 8). This survey, conducted among 7,025 Sikkimese Newars in 1994,
revealed that 33% percent were illiterate and only 5%
had a graduate qualification. Educated Newars are for the
most part concentrated in Gangtok, the state capital.
While many believe that most of Newar society is rich
and as some individuals occupy high government posts,
the reality is quite different. According to former chairman of the Sikkim Newah Guthi, Mr. Keshav Chandra
Pradhan, less than 5% of the Newar population in Sikkim
once served at the Chogyal's court, have high government
positions or run business houses that can be considered to
be affluent. The rest are comparatively poor. Analysing
demographic data for Sikkim, Bhasin and Bhasin showed
that 40% of the Newar population lived on less than 500
rupees income per annum and that only 4% had an annual
income of between IC 20,001 and 25,000 (1995: 119).
A number of Sikkimese Newars have made their reputation in the garden nursery business. The late Chandravir
Kasaju's son Rai Saheb Ratnabahadur initiated a nursery
in Rhenock under his father's name, which is still known
throughout Sikkim as the 'Chandra Nursery'. Already in
the middle of twentieth century, some Newar traders had
begun exporting flowers, plants and fruits from Sikkim to
India and other countries. Some such entrepreneurs, such
as Keshav Chandra Pradhan, a former Chief Secretary of
Sikkim are world-renowned in the field of plant husbandry and have won international awards from Australia, the
United Kingdom, the United States and Japan for their
work in this field. Pradhan is now retired and grows many
varieties of orange and hybrid flowers in his well-tended
Newars are also found in the grocery business in many
settlements across Sikkim, while others are engaged in
agriculture. Newars were the first to introduce cardamom
farming in Sikkim, now one of Sikkim's most popular
cash crops. Ganesh Kumar Pradhan of Rhenock is well
known for his antique collection. Through personal ini-
Within the Newar community, then, there is a genuine
schism between the wealthy and the economically depressed families. To a certain extant, there is little mutual trust between these two classes. One of the aims of
the Sikkim Newah Guthi is to help the poorer sections
of Nevvar society through financial assistance and other
means. However, despite the best efforts of the Sikkim
Newah Guthi. very little sign of cooperation between the
poor and affluent Newar communities is noticeable. As
one of my informants put it, "Unlike other communities
in Sikkim, the Newars lack a feeling of mutual cooperation, instead they envy each other's success". While other
communities in Sikkim generally view the Newars as a
hard-working people, some portray them as oppressors,
since during the time of the Chogyal they worked as eon-
tractors and landlords and used harsh measures in collect
revenue and were authorised to whip people who failed
to provide forced labour (jharaf Older people such as
Daya Prasad Pradhan dismiss such claims and suggest
rather that Newars, in their capacity as contractors and
landlords, were responsible for much development, such
as opening schools and health centres, constructing roads
Shrestha/ Ritual and Identity...Newars in Sikkim and making rest places.
Newar Castes
Traditional Newar society in Nepal is a complicated
structure with caste divisions and internal hierarchies.
The nineteenth century chronicle, the Bha_a.vaMsa.vali,
credits the fourteenth century king Jayasthiti Malla with
introducing the caste system to the Nepal Valley (Lamsal
1966: 37-50). In Nepal, caste discrimination is still felt
in all traditional Newar settlements and Newars still use
their caste or occupational names.
Against the background of Nepal, the disappearance of
caste hierarchies among Sikkim's Newars is remarkable
and may be the single most salient feature of the diaspora population. With a few exceptions, all Newars in
Sikkim are now called Pradhan. The term Pradhan, the
family name of one caste of Nepal's Newars, has come to
stand for all Newars in Sikkim and Darjeeling. At certain
period, this was not without controversy. During a dispute between two rival groups in Darjeeling, each claiming higher status over the other, the Nepalese authorities wrote a letter stating, 'Pradhan is among the highest
classes of the Newars' (Singh 1991: 102). According to
Bhuvan Prasad Pradhan (1993: 13), the British Government in India awarded the title of Pradhan to Laksmidas
for his excellent service in 1913. Laksmidas later asked
for all Sikkimese Newars to be permitted to use this title
as their family name to prevent caste divisions within
their community. A different interpretation is advanced
by Khagendra Pradhan, who believes that Laksmidas ordered all Sikkimese Newars who had escaped Nepal to
exclusively use Pradhan as a surname to protect their lives
after the 1846 Kot massacre, thereby helping them hide
their actual identity (1998: 57).
Changing all Newar surnames to Pradhan helped to eliminate caste hierarchies among the Newars of Sikkim. During my fieldwork, when I asked about their former castes
divisions and names, many did not know as they had lost
contact with their relativ es in Nepal. However, some of
the Newars who continue to have regular contact with
their relatives in Nepal were aware of having caste names
other than Pradhan. Among them, I recorded Vajracharya,
Shakya, Tuladhar, Shrestha, Kasaju, Maske and Karmacharya, among others. Some have also adopted the word
'Nevvar' as their family name, particularly in Kurseong,
where all Newars seem to call themselves Newar. Recently, even though a few families in Sikkim have begun
tracing their former caste names, and some Shresthas,
Shakyas and Tuladhars have started to use their family
names, it does not seem likely this will revive the caste
hierarchies which were so effectively eliminated among
the Newars in Sikkim.
It is interesting to note that while caste hierarchies have
all but disappeared among the Newars of Sikkim, the term
'Pradhan' has become a new caste in Sikkim's existing
ethnic hierarchy. Pradhans have acquired a high status
alongside Bahuns and the Chetris and it is widely believed
that the political association between the Bahuns, Chetris
and Newars of Sikkim is a long established one, predating
the famous NBC (Newar-Bahun-Chetri) political grouping under the Chief Minister, Nar Bahadur Bhandari.
Guthi: Socio-Religious Associations
The system of guthis, or socio-religious associations, is
one of the most important components of Newar society.B
In the traditional context, guthis are responsible for organising the religious and ritual activities of a community.
In Nepal, Licchavi inscriptions from the third to eighth
centuries refer to gosthi, the Sanskrit word from which
guthi is derived, carrying out rituals and social work.
Many inscriptions from this period describe gosthT financial arrangements and their tasks. It appears from these
inscriptions that such associations were important not
only from the viewpoint of establishing and maintaining
the temples, monasteries, shrines and rituals but were also
instruments of development in the fields of water supply,
agriculture, health and public entertainment. Among the
guthis, the si guthi, the funeral association, is most important because membership in this guthi determines the
local affiliation and social position (in particular caste status) of a person. The sT guthis are a unique institution of
Newar society. The main function of a si guthi is to carry
out funeral processions when a death occurs in the house
of one of its members.14
When migrating to Sikkim, the Newars brought their religion, culture and rituals with them. Daya Prasad Pradhan
(1997: 2) mentions the formation a guthi in Sumbuk when
the Newars settled there around 1850, but he does not
elaborate on it. Historical evidence shows that Rhenock, a
small town in East Sikkim, was one of the earliest Newar
settlements in the region. In the past, Rhenock was considered to be a gateway between Kalimpong and Nathu-la
pass, as it lay on the trade route to Tibet. The Newars who
settled in Rhenock established a traditional guthi before
1900. This guthi consisted of eighteen household members at its initiation and its main function was to gather
at a Shiva temple every evening where dev otionals songs
(bhajan) were sung. The Rhenock guthi also organised
performances of laklie dances and the worship of Krishna
every year during the gai jatra festival. Most significantly, members of the guthi were obliged to help others
when someone in their family died, which is also the main
feature of a Newar sT guild in Nepal. It is the task of the
eldest member of the guthi to inform all the members as
Newah Vijnana-6 soon as someone dies and then all are obliged to attend the
funeral procession. On the fourth day after death, members must bring certain foodstuffs and a specific amount
of money to the bereaved family. Guthi members also assist the grieving family during the gai jatra festival when
a cow procession in the name of the recently deceased
person is organised. Those who fail in fulfilling their guthi
duties are penalised. Rhenock is the only place in Sikkim
where the Nevvar st guthi is kept alive. However, unlike
the sT guilds in Nepal, the Rhenock guthi does not restrict
membership to one caste but rather includes all the Newar
families in Rhenock.
In January 1990, the Newars of Rhenock restructured their
guthi, introducing new regulations such as financial support for the bereaved families of dead members and providing interest-free monetary loans. At the same, the guthi
is committed to reviving Nevvar culture and language in
the area and has been involved with religious activities
and traditional dances. Unlike the first Newar guild, the
revived guthi also now functions as a branch of the Sikkim
Newah Guthi, which means that it has become active in
the process of achieving ethnic rights for Newars.
After the formation of the Sikkim Newah Guthi, in all
settlements where a branch office of the organisation exists, financial contributions by guthi members to the family members of the dead for the funeral costs have been
made mandatory. It is notable that when a death occurs in
a Newar family in Sikkim, all the neighbours and friends
come forward, without caste or ethnic restriction, and provide physical comfort and financial support to the grieving family. This tradition of supporting bereaved families
already existed among the Bhutia and Lepchas, and its
adoption by Newars may be taken as a sign of their effective integration in Sikkim. The financial contributions
to bereaved families may be quite substantial: one such
family told me that they had recently received a total of
IC 150,000 (about US $3000) from their relatives, neighbours and friends.
Aside from the example at Rhenock, there is a notable absence of traditional Newar guthis in Sikkim. Particularly
surprising is the absence of sT guthis, the funeral associations, not only in Sikkim but also in other parts of India.
The only exception appears to be Kalimpong. According
to Yogvir Shakya, Newars who settled in Kalimpong for
trade with Tibet initiated a funeral society (bicah guthi)
around 1930. This guthi included all Nevvar castes and
the organisational minutes were written in the Newar
language.15 While a minute dated 1955 shows that there
were 43 members in the guthi at the time, nowadays the
organisation consists of only eighteen members. Other local Newars, who also called themselves Pradhan, do not
participate in this guthi but have rather established a Ka
limpong branch of the All India Newar Association.
The Newars of Darjeeling never initiated a guthi as such
but rather a Newah Samaj or Newar Society back in 1921.
Although the Newah Samaj did not carry out the task of
a Newar guthi or st guthi, it was nevertheless active in
social and religious work. A decade after its foundation
it was renamed Nepali Asamarlha SahOyak Samiti, or
the Committee to Help Deprived Nepalese, but since the
1970s it returned toils original name of NewaX Samaj. Its
members regularly gather to sing devotional Newar songs
(bhajan) and have helped destitute Nepalese in Darjeeling
on several occasions. The Society has also organised the
celebration of Newar festivals such as Mhapaja. In 1991,
when it celebrated its 75 anniversary, Newah Samaj invited a large number of Newar artists from Nepal and organised a Newar food festival in Darjeeling. The organisation built a house of its own at Chandmari in 1965 and
since then has been providing meeting space to Newars
as well as members of other communities. In June 1993,
aiming to promote Newar language, culture and rituals,
the Newars of Darjeeling established a new organisation
called Darjeeling Newar Sangathan, which succeeded in
opening twenty branches in West Bengal by 1998. It has
now been renamed the All India Newar Organisation and
has established branches across India in many of the settlements where a sizable number of Newars reside. Since
1997, the Kalimpong branch has been publishing a news
bulletin known as Sukunda (a traditional oil lamp used in
Newar rituals) under the editorship of Yogvir Shakya, a
local teacher and a social worker. In 2004, Sukunda was
turned into a news bulletin of the All India Newar Organisation.
Religions and Rituals
Though there are a few Nevvar Christians and Muslims,
Nevvar society in Nepal can as a whole be considered a
Hindu-Buddhist mix. In Sikkim, however, there are a fair
number of Christian Newars alongside Newar Hindu and
Buddhist practitioners. The mixture or blending of Hindu
and Buddhist religious features is prevalent among the
Newars in Sikkim as it is among the Newars of Nepal.
The majority of Sikkimese Newars nevertheless identify
themselves as Hindu. The process of Hinduisation has
a long history among the Newars of Nepal, particularly
after the implementation of the 1856 legal code, the Muluki Ain. Although most lay Newars practice both Hindu
and Buddhist rituals without making much distinction,
they prefer to be referred to as Hindu because it is the
religion officially propagated by the state in Nepal. It is
likely that the Newars may also have followed this same
trend in Sikkim. The adoption of 'Pradhan' as a surname,
even thoush the name used bv both Hindu and Buddhist
Shrestha/ Ritual and Identity...Newars in Sikkim Newar families in Nepal, is particularly prominent among
the Hindus, and may have helped the Newars to label
themselves as Hindu in Sikkim. Newars with a Buddhist
priestly background, however, such as a family I met in
Pakyong. despite using Pradhan as their surname define
themselves as Buddhist because their ancestors were
Buddhist Vajracharya. Similarly, most Shakya families in
Sikkim and Kalimpong practice Buddhism and refer to
themselves as Buddhists.
Christian Newars do not practice any Hindu or Buddhist
rituals or traditions, but are nevertheless proud to call
themselves Newar. Rather, they follow the life cycle and
death rituals according to the Christian traditions. In certain cases, when a Christian Nevvar is married to a Hindu
Newar they follow some of the Hindu rituals along with
their Christian rituals. Since all the Newars once were
Hindu or Buddhist, even if they later converted to Christianity, some are of the view that Christian Newars should
return to the Hindu and Buddhist religious path. So far
only a few have done so. Catholic and Evangelical Christians whom 1 interviewed said that they were not inclined
to discard their present religious affiliations and adopt
Hindu or Buddhist practices. Both were bom into Christian families as their grandfathers had already converted
to Christianity. The Newar organisation in Sikkim is flexible enough to include all religious denominations in its
membership. Only at one location did a Newar activist
tell me that their branch office did not extend membership
to Christian Newars.
The religious and ritual life of Newars in Nepal is guided
by calendrical festivals, and many spend a good part of
their time participating in feasts and organising festivals.
Newars in Nepal observe one or another festival, feast,
fast or procession of gods and goddesses almost every
month. A common feature of all Nevvar cities, towns and
villages is that they are home to a specific annual festival
or procession (jatra) of the most important deity of that
particular locale. Besides such observances, and making
pilgrimages to important religious sites, another important feature of Newar society is the masked dance portraying various gods and deities.
In Sikkim, however, aside from a few places such as Rhenock, the Newars have lost most of their rituals and traditions. While major festivals such as Dasain and Tihar are
celebrated with much fanfare, many small festivals are no
longer followed, and the feasts and festivals which have
survived have been fundamentally transformed. In fact,
one could say that they are not celebrated according to
Nevvar tradition. Unsurprisingly, those Newars who are
in regular contact with their relatives in Nepal and who
continue to visit Nepal from time to time follow the calendrical festival cycle more rigorously, in line with Newar
practices in Nepal. Such families are, however, very few
in numbers.
What remains of the Newar ritual calendar in Sikkim is
not particularly different from the one used in Nepal, even
if Sikkimese Newars do not observe many of the festivals and rituals. Mha puja, the worship of the self, is one
of the most important Newar festivals in Nepal, but has
been largely forgotten by the Sikkimese population. Only
since 1995, with the aim of promoting Newar religion,
has the Newar Association of Sikkim, the Sikkim Newah
Guild, started to celebrate Mha puja. Since 2000, the Sikkim Newah Guthi has also revived festivals such as Indra
jatra, another important Nevvar event.
Daya Prasad Pradhan of Tadong, aged 86, remembers drag-
ging away a straw effigy of Gathe Magar {gathammugah)
together with a sweeper in Pakim and even seeing month-
long lakhe dances when he was a young boy (Pradhan
1997: 30). The tradition of dragging away of effigies of
gathammugah together with a scavenger is still a living
tradition in Kathmandu.16 Most of the Newars 1 interviewed in Sikkim, however, did not remember celebrating the festival of gathammugah, even though they do
celebrate gumpunhi or janai purnima by drinking kvati,
an special soup made of different beans. Aside from Rhenock, there is no other place in Sikkim where the traditional cow processions in the name of recently deceased
relativ es still takes place during gai jatra.
While many Sikkimese Newars know about father's day
and mother's day, only a few families celebrate these
events as they are followed in Nepal. The festival of
pahjaram, when alms are given to Buddhist monks, is not
practiced in Sikkim. Most of my informants did not know
of the festival of catha, during which the crescent moon
and Ganesh are worshipped, even though the tradition of
svarha sraddha, the sixteen days dedicated to offering
ritual food to deceased ancestors, is still widely observed
in Sikkim. Except for one or two families I met, the tradition of offering lights to the heavens during the month of
karlik, a ritual known as alamala, is not observed.
Very few Nevvar families in Sikkim still observe all the
Newar feasts and festivals, but Ghyocakusalhu (Maghe
Sankranti), the eating of molasses and ghee in January,
SrTpamcamt', the beginning of spring and the worship of
SarasvatT, the goddess of knowledge in January February,
Shiva Ratri (Silacarhe) in February, Holipunhi, the festival of colour in February/March, and Cairradasain and
RamanavamT in March April are still celebrated by many.
Large portion of the Newar community of Sikkim do not
celebrate the festival of Sithinakhah, the worship of the
lineage divinity, but some still do. Some are even said to
sacrifice a goat during this festival. When an animal is
Newah Vijnana-6 sacrificed, the division of the head of the sacrificed animal
into eight parts and its distribution among the elder members of the household is an important ritual element for
Newars in Nepal but in Sikkim is unknown to almost all.
As in Nepal, Bhimsen is considered to be one of the main
gods for Sikkimese Newars and many worship him as a
lineage deity. Other Newars regard Durga or Buddha as
their lineage deities. As a part of some rituals, the Newars
in Sikkim worship the mountain deity Kanchenjunga. All
those who consider themselves to be Sikkimese recognise
and worship Kanchenjunga in some form.1" Religious
Newars may also go on pilgrimage to the sacred sites of
Sikkim, such as to the Kheocheplari and Tsomgo lakes.
Now that many are searching for their Nevvar identity,
Sikkimese Newars are keen to revive traditional festivals. Alongside cultural promotion by the Sikkim Newah
Guthi, there are some impressive individual initiatives
such as that launched by Suryavir Tuladhar who is building a remarkable Newar temple.
The Temple of Svayambhu
As stated above, the mixture of both Hindu and Buddhist
religious features is prevalent among Newars in Sikkim as
it is among the Newars of Nepal. In this regard, the establishment of a Svayambhu Bhimakall temple in Gangtok
is noteworthy. This temple is famous for its presentation
of features of Nevvar religion, but is also filled with all
manner of deities including a statue of Sai Baba, a modern
living god in India. People from all Sikkimese communities and from further afield visit this temple. Mr. Suryavir
Tuladhar, the founding priest of the temple, is one of the
most active Newars in Sikkim promoting Nevvar culture
and language. He is also one of the few Newars in Gangtok who actually speaks the Newar language. For a period, the temple grounds were used to teach the Newar
language as well as Nepalese carya dances. Suryavir's
combining of Newar Hindu and Buddhist religious practices including Tantric and Tibetan Buddhist (Lamaist)
forms all in one temple is particularly unique.
As a Newar, Suryavir's aim was to decorate the temple
with Newar features. Being born into a Tuladhar family, he was not supposed to perform any priestly duties
at the temple, but succeeded in turning himself into a
priest because there were no other Nevvar priests in Sikkim. This should be seen as a significant departure from
the traditional concept of priesthood as practised among
the Newars of Nepal and can be understood as the invention of a religious identity in a diaspora community. Most
interesting is the mixing up of Hindu (Saiva. Vaisnav),
Tantric, Newar Buddhist and Tibetan Buddhist practices
in Suryavir's way of worshipping the deities. In this regard, the structure of the temple is very inventive, with
a pagoda-styled roof, enshrined Svayambhu Caitya and
a temple altar with images of Siva and Kali beneath the
Every morning, the priest performs a nityapuja for more
than two hours as a form of daily worship at this temple.
Some of his followers live there as his pupils, including
a girl who becomes possessed by a divine serpent every
morning and every day treat a number of patients while
possessed. The priest Suryavir himself is also a faith healer and treats patients after completing his daily worship.
He is believed to have the power of communicating with
the gods.
Among the Newar population of Nepal, animal sacrifice
during festivals and rituals is common, particularly at the
temple of Kali In Sikkim, however, animal sacrifice is
rare and is virtually forbidden at most temples in the state.
Vegetarian offerings, replacing of animal sacrifice with
fruit or coconuts, have become common in Sikkimese
temples. Similarly, no animal sacrifice is pennitted at the
temple of Svayambhu Bhimakall
When performing fire sacrifices, Suryavir blends Vedic,
Tantric and Buddhist components, a form of performance
which would be impossible in Nepal, but which is tolerated in Sikkim because the system has been created in
accordance with local needs. Such creative ritual inventions are necessary and accepted, in large part because
the Nevvar migrant populations in Sikkim lack not only
the appropriate priests, but also knowledge of the traditions of rituals practice. In fact, it is only in recent years
that Sikkimese of Nepalese origin have began to reassert their ethnic identities thus compelling them to invent
rituals of their own. Through the rituals that he performs
at the temple, Suryavir wants to demonstrate not only a
separate Nevvar or Nepali identity, but also to prove that
the Nepalese of Sikkim are flexible, tolerant and ready to
adopt elements from all other religions. Such invention is
necessary to attract devotees from all communities, since
Sikkim is home to many Nepalese communities as well as
to its original inhabitants, the Bhutias and Lepchas.
Devotees from all communities regularly visit the temple
to pay their respects to gods and goddess. The priest states
he exists in order to perform righteous (dharma) tasks and
thus serve disadvantaged people.
Life Cycle Rituals
The diffusion or erosion of language and culture are some
of the most challenging problems faced by minorities in
Shrestha/ Ritual and Identity...Newars in Sikkim any multinational or multicultural society. In the case of
migrants, such challenges are all the more pronounced.
I discovered that many life cycle rituals observed by the
Newars have all but disappeared in Sikkim. Only a few
people, whose regular contact with ancestral relatives
in Nepal remains uninterrupted, have maintained all the
Nevvar life cycle rituals. Otherwise, the Newars of Sikkim are completely dependent on the Parbate Brahmins
for the performance of life cycle and death rituals. Consequently, we may speak of a major ritual transformation. It
also appears that there are not a sufficient number of Par-
bate (Hindu hill dwellers) Brahmins working as priests in
Sikkim, so most of them are actually invited from Nepal.
Some of these Brahmin priests remain in Sikkim for years
while their families stay in Nepal, with the result that the
priests travel back and forth a great deal. Because of the
policies of the State Government of Sikkim, these Brahmin priests are not permitted lo receive Indian citizenship.
In their attempt to reintroduce Newar life cycle and
death rituals, the Sikkim Newar Organisation is considering inviting Newar Brahmin and Vajracharya priests
from Nepal. How feasible such a plan is, and how soon
they will be able to do so, is still unclear. All over India,
Newars are facing the same problem. In the recent past,
in their attempt to revive life cycle and death rituals, Indian Newars have not only consulted experts from Nepal,
but have also translated ritual manuals from Nevvar into
Nepali, the lingua franca among the Newars in India, in
order lo facilitate distribution and comprehension within
their communities. In this context, the publication of the
books Newar Jati (the Newar Nationality) by Bhaichanda
Pradhan (1 997) and Janma-dekhi STjyasammako Samskar
Paddhati (A Manual of Lifecycle and Death Rituals) compiled by the Indian Newar Organisation, Central Committee Darjeeling (2003) are particularly noteworthy.
While life cycle rituals are still very important to some
Newars in Sikkim, they do not follow the rituals in the
manner of Newars in Nepal. For instance, some do observe Macabu Byamke, the birth purification rite, Mac a
Jamkva, the rice feeding ceremony, Ihi, the ritual marriage for female children, Barha Tayegu, the twelve-day
confinement for girls, Busam Khayegu, the shaving of
heads, and Kayta puja, the worship of loincloth. In most
cases, however, the rituals performed during these ceremonies no longer follow the Newar tradition because
Parbate Brahmins are employed as priests, who simply do
not know about Nevvar rituals.
After childhood and adolescent rituals, marriage is the
most crucial series of life cycle rituals in Newar society.
Similarly, the Bura Jamko, an old age ceremony, is very
important ceremony for Newars. It can be observed many
times: first, when one turns 77 years, 7 months, 7 days, 7
hours and 7 minutes; the second lime when one reaches
the age of 83 years; the third when one turns 88 years and
8 months, and so on. This old age ceremony has long been
abandoned by Newars in Sikkim. Most recently, in 2000,
the Karunadevi SmCtrak Dharmartha Guthi attempted to
revive this tradition by observing the Bura Jamko of Mr.
Jay Shankarlal Shrestha in Rhenock, when he turned 83.
The Jamko was observed as a public ceremony for three
days with various programmes attached, and the event
was widely publicised across Sikkim so that others would
think of following suit.18
Death Rituals
In Newar society, rituals are as important for those who
have died as for those who are alive. In Sikkim, even after
death, the Newars employ Parbate Brahmin priests. Funerals may take place on the day of death, but in most
cases occur the following day. As far as possible, sons
of the deceased must bear the dead body to the cremation ground, but relatives and neighbours may also help to
carry the body. At the cremation ground, the chief mourner lights the body and it burns down to ashes. The chief
mourner and any other sons then shave their heads and
bathe in the river.
Returning home, sons of the deceased keep their distance
from others for ten days during which time no one can
touch them. They also cook their own food. Every day
for ten days, they may perfonn sraddha. at a nearby river.
On the tenth day, a purification rite is performed and close
relatives may also shave their head. On the eleventh day,
365 floating bowls made of leaves (khochi bagaune) are
prepared. On the twelfth day, pi] a are offered to the deceased. On the thirteenth day, a sraddha is performed, and
beds, sheets, dresses and utensils (sa.rya dana) are given to
the priest in the name of the deceased. Those who joined
the family in the funeral procession and extended their
condolences must be invited for a feast meal on this day.
All of these visitors give the family an amount of money
as a gesture of their support. Such a feast may not contain
meal. Nowadays, many stop wearing the mourning dress
on the thirteenth day, but some continue to wear mourning clothes until they perform a sraddha on the 45lh day.
Monthly sraddha is no longer common, but most Newars
in Sikkim do perform a sraddha at sixth months and a
year after the death. Wearing white for the whole year has
now become a rare practice. Such rituals perforated after
death in Sikkim, as expected, do not match to the rituals
performed by Newars in Nepal.
Newar Ethnic Identity in Sikkim
While the Newars of Sikkim feel themselves to be distinct
Newah Vijnana-6 from other ethnic groups because of their separate culture
and language, as has become clear from the discussion
above, most have failed to maintain their language, culture, rituals and traditions.
Only in 1982 did a group of Newar youngsters, led by
Rajiv Shankar Shrestha, for the first time take the initiative to establish a Sikkim Newah Guthi, an Association of
the Newars in Sikkim, with the aim of achieving ethnic
rights for the Newar community residing in Sikkim. This
earliest attempt at organizing the Newars of Sikkim for
the pursuit of ethnic rights faced some initial obstacles
and thus ended without any success. A few years later,
in 1990, several planning meetings were held al the residence of Mr. Daya Prasad Pradhan (Maske) in Tadong
culminating in a large meeting al the auditorium of Sikkim
Sahitya Parisad on 3 October 1993, at which an ad hoc
body of the Sikkim Newah Guild under the chairmanship
of the late Mohan Pratap Pradhan (Kasaju) was formed.
Later that year, this organisation succeeded in turning itself into a slate level-Newar association in Sikkim, the
Sikkim Newah Guthi.
tually separate them from other populations in Sikkim.
While I was observing the Sikkim Mahasanti Puja (Sikkim Great Peace Worship) in Gangtok in 2004 January,
a Newar participant even suggested that I not disclose to
others that my study was on the Newar community since
the Sikkim Mahasanti Puja was a four-day joint effort by
over two dozen religiously-motivated youth clubs, trade
unions, workers organisations and business houses. During this grand event, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian,
Sikh and Sai Baba followers were all actively involved. I
was informed that the main aim of the puja was to showcase the religious harmony among Sikkim's peoples, and
to appease wandering souls of all the beings who had died
an unnatural death in the recent past. In this capacity, according lo Mr. S.K Pradhan, the spokesman of the event,
while a major objective of the puja was lo bring peace
to Sikkim, its ultimate aim was to bring about peace and
tranquillity in the whole world. Followers of the different
religions each had their own room and altar at which they
could perform appropriate religious activities for their
The Guthi also launched a campaign to have the Newars
recognized as an Other Backward Class (OBC), but as
the 1998 OBC report prepared by the Slate Government
ignored their campaign, they had lo wait for a further five
years for this recognition to be achieved. In 1996, while
waiting, a group of dissatisfied members of the Sikkim
Newah Guthi formed the Newar Kalyan Tadartha Samiti
(Newar Welfare Ad Hex; Committee) under the chairmanship of Khagendra Pradhan, even though this organisation
reunited with the mother organisation, the Sikkim New>ah
Guthi, in 1999. At the annual convention of the Sikkim
Newah Guthi in 2000, the organisation chose a new name:
All India Newar Organisation, Sikkim (Akhil Bharatiya
Newar Samgajfhan, Sikkim), to link it with other Newar
organisations of India of the same name. This name
change aroused some controversy Those in favour of the
new name argued that it was necessary to give the organisation a broader perspective and appeal, since in other regions of India also the Newars were organised under the
All India Newar Organisation. Those against the name
change, however, argued that it was inappropriate because it discarded the word guthi, a fundamental term for
a Newar organisation. Especially those who had initiated
the Sikkim Newah Guthi did not appreciate the new name,
but for the sake of Newar unity did not openly contest it.
All Newars in Sikkim are in principle members of the All
India Newar Organisation, Sikkim. In most places that I
visited, people told me that they believe it necessary to
have a national-lev el Newar organisation promoting their
welfare and the revival of their threatened culture and language. However, some Newars I spoke to felt an ethnic
organisation lo be inappropriate because it would even-
Nepali is now well established as a lingua franca in Sikkim, Among Sikkimese Newars, the practice of speaking the Nevvar language at home is extremely low: most
use Nepali as their mother tongue. In particular, those
families who have lost contact with Kathmandu Newars
have completely lost the ability of speaking the Newar
language. Only a few families in Gangtok, Rhenock,
Namthang, Namehi, Jorethang, Legship, Tashiding and
Geyzing still do speak Newar. Tashiding, a small village
situated in West Sikkim, is the only place where I found
several families still speaking Nevvar with one another.
However, with the establishment of the Sikkim Newah
Guthi, Newars of Sikkim have begun to feel it necessary
to learn their ancestral language. In a bid to teach Newar
to Sikkimese Newars, the Sikkim Newah Guthi started
sending students to Kathmandu lo learn Newar and also
invited language teachers from Kathmandu to Sikkim to
teach the tongue. From 1998, the Guthi also supplied two
Nevvar language schoolteachers: one alArilarin East Sikkim and another at Mallidanda in South Sikkim. Sadly
this venture did not last long. In February 2000, the Institute of Newar Language and Culture was established
in Namthang Kothi in South Sikkim to revive the Newar
language and its culture. The government also introduced
the Nevvar language as a subject at some schools, appointed Newar language teachers and published course books
in the Nevvar language.
The Sewar Organisation of Sikkim is also keen to maintain cross border contact and cultural exchange between
the Newars of Nepal and Sikkim. Prominent Newar leaders, such as Padma Ratna Tuladhar, Malla K Sundar,
Naresh Bir Shakva and Laksmidas Manandhar have been
Shrestha/ Ritual and Identity...Newars in Sikkim
11 invited to Sikkim to participate in their programmes. On
occasion, cultural teams from Nepal, and well-known
Newar language, dance and music teachers, have also
been invited. Similarly, Newar leaders in Sikkim have
visited Nepal to participate in programmes organised by
the Newar National Forum (NewaX De Dabu) and the
Nevvar Association (Nepal bha_a MamkaX KhalaX) of
The emergence of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) as
the largest party in the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim
has played an important role in empowering the state's
ethnic groups. The SDF government introduced various regulations in favour of the different ethnic groups
of Sikkim, including giving equal rights to all languages
spoken in the state. In 1994, the local government designated Newar to be a state language along with all other
languages spoken in Sikkim, and further introduced a regulation permitting Newar to be spoken at meetings of the
Sikkim Legislativ e Assembly (SLA). In this regard, since
1994 the SLA has employed a Newar language translator
and editor and has been publishing proceedings of parliamentary meetings in the Newar language using Newar
scripts. I was able to collect a Proceedings of the Sikkim
Legislative Assembly translated into the Newar language
using the Newar script, an important document because it
speaks of the Sikkimese government's practical commitment to supporting languages from different communities. Sadly, no other Nevvar language proceedings have
been published since. The Sikkim Herald, a government
weekly, is released in Newar and other official languages
of the state, another example of Sikkim's liberal policy
towards minority languages.
In 2003, the Sikkim government included the Newars in
the Other Backward Class (OBC) category, together with
Bahuns, Chetris, Sanyasi and Jogis. This means that the
government now reserves a total of fourteen percent of
jobs and seats for higher studies for these groups. While
the State Government of Sikkim has now recognised
these groups as OBC, the Central Government of India
has vet to do so.
Concluding Remarks
I have found the people of Sikkim to be generally happy
about the State Government's policy towards their languages and cultures, and most believe that this policy has
increased mutual understanding between Sikkim's different ethnic groups. At first glance, one notices peaceful and
harmonious relations between the different ethnicities in
Sikkim, but competition and envy among these groups
can be sensed as soon as one delves a little deeper. Almost
all communities in Sikkim have their own ethnic organi
sations and are actively organising themselves to struggle
for their rights.
Some are of the opinion that the policy of empowering
small communities with rights to their languages and cultures is divisive. They believe that the Nepalese communities of Sikkim were for a long time seen as one group
but are now fragmented because each one is seeking a
separate and distinct ethnic identity. Only politicians, they
argue, benefit from such a 'divide and rule' policy. Kumar
Pradhan, a prominent Nepalese scholar in India expresses
a similar opinion about Darjeeling (2005: 24). The majority of Nepalese in Sikkim are nevertheless pleased with
the State Government's policy towards their cultures.
Nepalese populations in Sikkim, who have been living
there for almost one and a half centuries, believe themselves to be no less indigenous than those officially declared as indigenous. The Bhutia and Lepcha populations
of Sikkim are considered to be the most indigenous and
the Indian government has consequently accorded them
the status of Scheduled Tribes meaning that a higher percentage of government jobs, higher studies and political
seats are reserved for them. All the Nepalese communities, such as the Bahuns, Chetris, Rais, Limbus, Tamangs,
Gurungs, Magars and Newars are generally considered to
be outsiders, despite their long term residence in the state.
Consequently, a division between the Nepalese communities and the Bhutias and Lepchas can be felt, and the
Nepalese communities feel themselves to be somehow
closer to each other than to the Bhutias and the Lepchas.
Not everyone agrees with such a perception, and some
Newars suggest that their food habits are much closer to
those of Bhutias and Lepchas than to a traditional Bahun
or Chetri diet.
The Newars in Sikkim are proud to be referred to as Newar.
With their long history of a distinct culture and language
hailing from the valley of Nepal, the Sikkimese Newars
want their heritage to be accorded due respect wherever
they live. While they are legally Indian, Sikkimese Newars are culturally Newar and since the 1990s have been
actively researching their roots and are presently striving
for a reinforced sense of their Newar identitv.
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the
Managers of the Frederick Williamson Memorial Fund,
whose generous grant enabled me to carry out this research in Sikkim in 2004. I am also fortunate to be the
first post-doctorai fellow at the Centro Incontri L'mani,
Ascona, Switzerland (2004-2006), which gave me the opportunity to write up my Sikkim research and produce this
paper. I am most indebted to the executive members of the
Newah Vijnana-6 Centro Incontri Lnnani, particularly to Professor Bruce
Kapferer and Dr. Angela Hobart for their support. Thanks
are due to Dr. Giovanni and Laura Simona for their untiring assistance and warmth during my Ascona residence.
I am grateful to Professor J.D.M Platenkamp of Munster
University for inspiration and his support of my research.
I am grateful to Professors J.C. Heesterman and D.H.A.
Kolff, and drs. Han F Vermeulen of Leiden Univ ersity,
Professors Axel Michaels and William Sax, and Dr. Martin Gaenszle of Heidelberg University, Professors Jean
Claude Galey, Corneille Jest and Gerard Toffin of CNRS,
Paris, Dr. David N. Gellner of Oxford University, Dr. Nathan Porath in the LK, Professors Tirtha Prasad Mishra
and Nirmal Man Tuladhar of the Centre for Nepal and
Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University, and folklorist Ke-
sar Lal Shrestha, Nareshvir Shakya and Malla K Sundar
of Kathmandu, for their encouragement and support of
this research. Thanks are also due to Dr. Anna Balikci-
Denjongpa and Mark Turin and the anonymous reviewer
for reading an earlier version of this article and providing
me with helpful comments. The hospitality and the care I
received in Sikkim were tremendous. With much respect
I express my gratitude to all those who welcomed me.
I would particularly like to thank Guru Suryavir Tuladhar, Bhanu Prakash Marmik, Rajiv Shankar and Rachana
Shrestha and Krishna Basnet of Gangtok, Gajablal and
Surendra Pradhan of Legship, Deepak Pradhan of Felling,
B.S. Pradhan of Demtang, and Yogvir Shakya of Kalimpong for their kind hospitality and help. I am indebted to
Kalpana and Deepak Pradhan, Dhruba Pradhan Bhansari
and Pradhumna Shrestha of Tadong for providing me with
copies of documents in their possession. Finally, I would
like to thank my wife Srilaksmi and our children Amu,
Aju and Nugah for their support, love and tolerance for
the periods 1 was absent from home during my research,
1 In 2004, noted Nepali folklorist, Kesar Lal Shrestha
kindly supplied me with an unpublished family note
written by Cakraraj Timila.
- The 1861 treaty obliged Sikkim to comply with British
wishes relating to internal and external affairs. See
Basnet (1974: 192-98), Appendix 'B', for the full text
of the treaty.
3 The letter was dated 20/10/1889, but there is mention of
a land lease received about 22 years earlier. See Jha
(1985: 56 & 128) Appendix I. See also Sharma and
Sharma (1997: 13) Vol. 1.
4 See Jha (1985: 55-7 & 128-29) Appendix II and III. See
also Sharma & Sharma (1997: 13-14) Vol. 1.
s See Jha (1985: 130-32) Appendix IV. See also Kotturan
(1983: 82)
b See Sharma and Sharma (1997: 53-55) and also Basnet
(1974: 46).
7 See Jha (1985: 130) and Sharma and Sharma (1997: 56).
8 The text is reprinted in Sharma and Sharma 1997: 49).
9 See Bhattacharyya (1984) for more on coinage in Sik
'" See the genealogy published by one of his descendants
in Pradhan (1997: 1).
" Family documents in the possession of Mrs. Kalpana
and Mr. Deepak Pradhan of Tadong.
12 This was the first census conducted in Sikkim, see Risley
(1972: 27).
13 See Gellner (1992: 235-47); Nepali (1965: 191-7); Regmi
(1967: 2) and Shrestha (2002: 32-35).
,4 See Toffin (1984: 209-13); Quigley (1985: 30-49) and
Ishii (1996) for the functioning of st guthis in Nepal.
15 See Kesar Lal Shrestha (2004: 3) for more on this
16 See van den Hoek (2004: 23).
'" Balikci-Denjongpa has elaborated secular and Buddhist
perceptions of the mountain deity Kanchenjunga
among the Lhopos (Bhutia) of Sikkim (2002: 31).
18 See the Smarika (2000) published on the occasion.
(This article has been reproduced from Bulletin of Tibetology
[Vol 41, N0.1, May 2005], published by Namgyal Institute of
Tibetology, Gangtok, Sikkim, India)
Shrestha/Ritual and Identity...Newars in Sikkim
13 Buddhist Hymns and the
Renaissance of Theravada
Buddhism in Nepal1
Phra Sugandha (Anil Sakya)2
Mahamakut Buddhist University &
Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
The renaissance of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal began in the early 20th century amidst Ihe previously existed Nesvar
Buddhism and other forms of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. Newar Buddhism preserved Sanskrit as their canonical
language, whereas Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism used the Tibetan vernacular. Later, when Theravada Buddhism -was
reintroduced into Nepal in 1920s, Pali was added as another canonical language. However, Pali, being an unfamiliar
language, was not popular enough to use widely in the propagation of Theravada Buddhism. Therefore, as an alternative
to Sanskrit and Pali, Nepal developed the use of Nepal Bhasa vernacular in translations, commentaries and devotional
songs. Among all the religious works in Nepal Bhasa. Buddhist hymns have a unique and significant role in the
Theravada Buddhism renaissance. Moreover, it has an indirect implication to Nepalese politics and social reflections of
the time of tlte renaissance. Gyanmala, which literally means 'Garland of Wisdom', are Buddhist hymns which have a
special place in the history of Buddhism in Nepal. One of the earliest Buddhist hymns was composed in 17th century. The
singing of Buddhist hymns can be sung as devotional chanting but often accompanied by musical instruments. However.
Theravada monks are excluded from singing the hymns if it is accompanied by musical instruments. Still nearly 40%
of Buddhist hymns are composed and authored by Theravada Buddhist monks. This paper will investigate how those
Buddhist hymns have been used as a powerful instrument in the renaissance of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal.
I. Introduction:
Thi s paper i s an explorati on about a new aspect of B uddhi st
studies. Within Theravada monastic context, music
and singing are something considered as a 'taboo' or a
breaking precepts. However, I see that singing and music
are important aspects of emotional, psychological and
devotional reflection of people in the society. Therefore,
devotional songs c£in be a simple tool of deliveringmessage
of awakening and or the reflection of socio-political aspect
of the society. However, I see that the study of hymns and
music are another aspect of Buddhist studies that seems
to be neglected subject. Accordingly, 1 am looking at the
role of the Gyanmala, Buddhist devotional hymns within
the context of Theravada Buddhism revivalism in Nepal
and to see how Nepalese Theravadin community have
developed an assumed Theravadin 'taboo' to be 'singing
for salvation.'
The Gyanmala is a modern Buddhist hymn that originated
as a part of the Theravada Buddhism revivalism in Nepal
in 1920s. It is a unique type of Theravada Buddhist liturgy
as it is a text comprising of words, music, chanting verses
and actions used in rituals and ceremonies, whether
privately or publicly, in vernaculars3. According to Peter
Skilling4liturgy in the Buddhist sense is "an individual's
and a community's participation in Buddhism, and to
a degree their identity as 'Buddhist.'" Moreover, he
describes, "Liturgy is a social act, an integral part of
living Buddhism, and it is a key to what ideas were abroad
during certain periods. It is also a teaching vehicle for both
monastics and lay followers. That is, it is through chanting
that they express themselves as Buddhist, relate to the
Triple Gems, and learn the fundamentals of Buddhism."
The Gyanmala in the modern Nepalese context functions
not only as a religious or devotional hymn but also as a
reflection of the psychological and socio-political facts of
people of the time.
The Gyanmala is sometimes referred as a type of Bhajans.
Bhajan is a song or a music composition, for worship or
offering prayers to the deities, popular among Hindu,
Newah Vijhana-6 Sikh and Buddhist communities. The songs are simple in
melody, but use soulful language celebrating the many-
splendours of God and expressing the deep feelings of
love for God or the deities. Although the Gyanmala can
be categorised under the age-old tradition of bhajan, it
has its own unique style of singing and rhythm. L'nlike
bhajan, the Gyanmala is not fixed for a particular festival,
day or time, nor is it a hymn to praise any god. It can
be organised and sung anywhere regardless of occasion,
time, or religious affiliation. Everyone can participate in
the Gyanmala hymn-singing without preparation because
the Gyanmala 'in itself, nothing necessarily or essentially
Theravadin in the act of singing such hymns means that
the participants include both the most ardent Theravada
activists and other Buddhists who have a much more
variable and ecumenical attitude toward Buddhism.5
Although one of the oldest substantial pieces of written
Pali to survive in the world (dated c. 800) is found in
the Kathmandu Valley,6 Pali is a relatively new Buddhist
canonical language for Nepal. When the revival of
Theravada Buddhism began in the 1920s, Pali was
unfamiliar among Nepalese. To ease the transmission
of the Buddhist doctrines among Nepalese, the pioneers
of Theravada rev ivalism invented the Gyanmala which
basically translate Pali verses and discourses into
vernaculars and more specifically in the style of simple
hymns. The vernacular translations include basic verses
from taking refuge in the Triple Gems, observing five
precepts to the life of the Buddha and his doctrines (see
Appendix I). Beginning with the Gyanmala, other new
vernacular translations of Pali Canon have been translated
and used in Nepalese Theravada monastic communities
as an alternativ e to the Pali.
II. Theravada Revivalism in Nepal
Traditional Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley is known
as 'Nevvar7' Buddhism, a name which reflects the ethnicity
of its adherents, the Newars. The Newah or Newars are a
given name for the indigenous people of the Valley and
Nevvar Buddhism is the Valley's unique brand of Buddhism
generally categorised under the Vajrayana Buddhism. The
other dominant type of Buddhism which exists in Nepal
is 'Highlands' Buddhism, and its main adherents are
Tamang, Sherpa. Magar, and Gurung ethnicities who live
along the Nepalese highlands, and are influenced by some
forms of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Kathmandu Valley is famous for as a source of
Sanskrit and vernacular (i.e. Nepal Bhasa) Buddhist
texts. The Buddhist world is much indebted to the British
resident Brian Houghton Hodgson for his collections of
Sanskrit and vernacular Buddhist manuscripts from the
Valley, which he sent to the Societe Asiatique in 1837
and other parts of the world. Huge collections of those
manuscripts are still available in British Library. Based on
those manuscripts in 1844 Eugene Burnouf stressed the
fact that Indian Buddhism had to be studied on the basis
of the Sanskrit text from Nepal and the Pali texts from
Ceylon8. In addition to Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts
used by Nevvar Buddhists, of course, among the highlands
Buddhism Tibetan vernacular is their base of canonical
language. This may raise the question on the role of Pali
language in Nepal. It seems that Pali is not used by any
form of traditional Buddhism existed in Nepal prior to
its introduction by recently revived Theravada Buddhism.
Despite the existence of a few old Pali manuscripts in the
Manuscript Departments of Nepal, the Pali language is
unfamiliar among Nepalese. This changed after 1920s,
when the long-lost Theravada tradition was reintroduced
in Nepal with its more 'Protestant' form of Buddhism.
Theravada Buddhism was reintroduced in Nepal in the
late 1920s. The renaissance of Theravada Buddhism
took place in Nepal together with the first stirrings of
modern Newar ethnic activism9. Nepal in 1920s was
ruled by the Rana Regime which was pro-Hindu in terms
of religious affiliation and politically it was a traditional
autocratic state. Despite the suppression of the pro-
Hindu government, the revival of Buddhism in Nepal
was ignited by Jagat Man Vaidya who later changed his
name to Dharmaditya Dharmacharya. In 1921, he was
exposed to theTheravada Buddhism in India when he met
Anagarika Dharmapala. Since then he dedicated himself
to learning Pali and towards revival of Buddhism in
Nepal. It is speculated that he might be the first Nepalese
to reintroduce the Pali language in modern Nepal. In 1923,
he attempted to establish an organization for the revival of
Buddhism (Buddha Dharma L'ddhar Sangha) and basing
himself in Calcutta, India he began to translate and publish
Pali texts into Nepal Bhasa vernacular in his magazine
entitled 'Buddha Dharma wa Nepal Bhasa' (Buddhism
and Nepal Bhasa vernacular) and other magazine named
'Dharmaduta' (Dharma Missionaries).
Some of the Pali discourses first appeared in Nepal
Bhasa vernacular was the translations of discourses from
Sutta-pitaka or 'Basket of Discourses.' For example,
Dhammacakkapavattana sutta (Discourse on Turning
the Wheel of the Dharma in motion), Sigalovada sutta
(Discourse on Layperson's Code of Discipline) and
Jivaka sutta (Discourse on Being a Lay Follower)
were translated and printed between the years of 1925-
30. In 1931, the Dhammapada from Pali texts was first
translated and published in Nepal Bhasa vernacular. It
was translated by Dr. Indra Man Vaidya, a brother of
Dharmaditya Dharmacharya and was published by Sadhu
Man Bhisakacharya in Calcutta, India. Although the first
attempt of this translation was not well translated and was
Sakya/Buddhist Hymns and...Buddhism in Nepal
15 not a complete version it could be considered as one of
the first vernacular versions of the Pali Canon in modern
Nepal. These publications were printed in Calcutta
and discreetly imported into Nepal. In 1940, the first
publication entitled 'Paritrana' (the Book of Protective
Blessings) which comprises of the popular discourses for
chanting in Pali together with its translations in Nepal
Bhasa vernacular was published. In 1942, the complete
version of the Dhammapada text together with its new
translation in vernacular (by Bhikkhu Amritananda)
was published. In 1946, with the publication of the
book entitled 'Dliarma wa Vinaya' (Doctrines and
Disciplines) in vernacular introduced Nepalese about the
Pali translations of Abhidharma and book of Discipline
This revival of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal was
coincided with the visit of a charismatic Tibetan Lama
known as Kyangste Lama. In 1924, the Lama's sermons
encouraged five Newars10 to follow their Tibetan teacher
to Tibet and join the monastic order When they returned
to Nepal as newly ordained monks, it raised a big debate
within the ruling government, who finally ruled that the
ordination was an unlawful conversion. As a result, while
those newly ordained monks were collecting their alms on
the street they were arrested and exiled from the country
in 1926. When Buddhism was publicly disallowed by the
ruling government and everyone was forced to follow
Hinduism, it raised dissatisfaction among the Buddhists.
This dissatisfaction later turned to be a positive force for
reviving Buddhism in Nepal.
assemblies, at all times and in all places, begin with the
Gyanmala devotional hymn-singing. Although Theravada
monastic codes (e.g. eight precepts) seems discourage
singing, it must be regarded as one of the fundamental
constituents of the modern Nepalese Theravada teaching
and transmission of the Buddha's doctrines. Among
Theravada community in Nepal, devotional hymn-
singing are not considered as breaking the precepts. On
the contrary, most of those hymns and liturgies were
composed by Theravada monks themselves and they were
encouraged to sing widely in public or private as a means
of path to salvation.
It can be said that the Gyanmala hymn provides better
access to Buddhism for the masses than sermons. Most
Theravadin assemblies begin with a public hymn-singing
of Gyanmala mainly accompanied by the harmonium
and tabla. In modern context, this might be added with
additional musical instruments such as electronic piano
or even a guitar. The singing is done in a group and in
public. It is sung ahead of the Buddhist ceremonies, for
example, Buddha veneration ceremony (Buddha Puja) or
any Buddhist programmes as a crowd pulling mechanism.
They have also developed the Gyanmala hymn-singing
in various Buddhist places on a daily basis. Moreover,
hymn-singing of Gyanmala is not limited only in
monastery grounds but it is also sung in different religious
processions. Now it has become the most popular Buddhist
activity widely performed both in and out of the Valley
and developed to be the quintessential part of the modern
Theravada Buddhism in Nepal.
In 1926, Mahapragya (Prem Bahadur Khyahju Shrestha),
the senior most of the five exiled monks re-ordained as
a Theravada novice-monk in Buddha Gaya under the
preceptorship of a Burmese monk V Kosala. Following
the footstep of Mahapragya, Karmasheel (Kul Man Singh
Tuladhar) who was also previously ordained in the Tibetan
tradition in 1928 later re-ordained as a Theravada novice-
monk in 1930 in Kusinagar". After being re-ordained in
Theravada tradition, Karmasheel first returned to Nepal
and, shortly afterwards, the exiled monk Mahapragya
secretly entered the country to begin the work for
revivalism of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal.
III. What is Gyanmala?
This spirit of reviving Buddhism in Nepal gave birth to the
Gyanmala hymns, a public devotional singing composed
based on the life of the Buddha and teachings of the
Buddha. This was regarded as a revolutionary action not
only in the field of renaissance of Buddhism in Nepal but
it has directly developed to be an educational tool for
awakening the indigenous people of Kathmandu Valley
socially, politically and religiously.  Today, Theravada
The Gyanmala handbook itself went through numerous
reprints (over 17 editions from its inception). The
Gyanmala hymn-singing becomes a prominent feature of
Buddhist community life which is stimulated by regularly-
scheduled competitions among different hymn-singing
groups all over the country. The numbers of Gyanmala
hymns are increasing in numbers composed by both
monastic and lay. Importantly, in terms of its participation
the Gyanmala hymn-singing functions as a gathering
point of all Buddhist groups without any discrimination
of their personal affiliations. However, lyrics of Gyanmala
hymns are mostly focus on the historical Buddha and his
doctrines rather thai local deities or Vajrayana Buddhist
The term 'Gyanmala' literary means 'Garland of Wisdom'
('gyan' means 'wisdom' + 'mala' means 'garland'). Later
it becomes the specific name of the Buddhist hymn book.
The present publication (the 17th edition) of the book
includes 237 Gyanmala hymns. Its name is a reminder of
the hymns, based on the sacred teaching of the Buddha.
Some argue that the term Gyanmala in Nepalese context
has a different connotation. The term Gvanmala is made
Newah Vijhana-6 of two words: 'gyan' which means 'knowledge' and the
vernacular term 'mahla' which means 'do you need.'
Accordingly, it was a question asking people who do
not understand about Buddhism that whether they would
want to be a wise? This is because Gyanmala hymns are
filled with the Buddha's wisdom12.
There is also another connotation of Gyanmala. Some say
that it was not a question of asking someone whether he
she wants to be a wise or not. But the term 'mala' should
be reinterpreted in vernacular as 'malah' which means
searching and selecting. Accordingly, Gyanmala means
'a group of selected teachings of the Buddha.'
However, Bhikshu Amritananda, a pioneer of Nepalese
Theravada Buddhist monks claims that he was the one who
changed to the current name 'Gyanmala' from previously
called 'bhajanmala' in 194413. He also warned that do not
use these hymns to indulge oneself on music, tunes, rhythm
or lyrics of the hymn but as a source of salvation and a
philosophical reflection. One should put full attention on
the words they sing and practice accordingly after singing
those hymns. Therefore, Gyanmala's main purpose is to
'sing for salvation' not for entertainment per se.
Regarding its historicity, Gellner14 writes that the first
attempt to compose a Gyanmala was done by Prem
Bahadur Khyahju Shrestha or later known as Bhikshu
Mahapragya in early as 1920s. It was recorded that he
was asked by his friend Dalchini Manandhar to compose
those Buddhist hymns. In order to help him do so,
Manandhar gave him a copy of Nepal Bhasa version of
the Lalitavistara, the life of the Buddha which was printed
in Calcutta in 1914, through which he became a devout
Buddhist and joined monastic although based on his
family background he was a Hindu.
IV. Bhajan verses Gyanmala
Bhajan or devotional hymn is a song or poem set to music
in praise of a divine or venerated being. It is widely
popular among Hindu and Sikh religions. Hymns from
India, the Sanskrit Rig-Veda, survive from c. 1200 B.C15
In Hinduism, the groundwork for bhajans was laid in
the hymns found in Veda in the Hindu scriptures. They
are distinguished from the Sanskrit shlokas (hymns
that accompany religious rituals) by virtue of their easy
lilting flow, the colloquial renderings and the profound
appeal to the mass. These are sung in a group comprising
devotees, with a lead singer. The fixed tunes, repetition
of words and phrases lend a kind of tonal mesmerism.
Anecdotes, episodes from the lives of Gods, preaching of
saints, description of God's glories have been the subject
of bhajans.
Bhajan khalahs (hymn-singing groups) that have been
in existence since the beginning of the Bhakti Era have
proved to be great social leveller where individuals
unhesitatingly participate in the singing, relegating their
petty differences to the background. The words, tunes,
rhythms and the typical repetitive style of the bhajans
give a certain sense of joy.
Gellner1*' writes that the modern style of hymns, known
as bhajan, was only introduced into Nepal in the 1880s
from India. He states that 'at first the songs were entirely
in Hindi and were Hindu in affiliation.' This, however,
contrasts with the fact of existence of Newar vernacular
what Lienhard1- called religious poetry. Some of those
Buddhist religious poetries which are included in modern
Gyanmala hymns dated back to early as the late 17th
century. The context of those religious poetries comprise
of praising the Buddha or different scenarios of the life
of the Buddha. There has been an age-old tradition of
singing those hymns accompanied with indigenous music
or without. For example, one of the oldest hymns which
was composed in 1865 entitled 'Buddha's descends to
Lumbini' (see appendix II for the hymn) is a popular
hymn sung widely in all times.
Prior to the introduction of Gyanmala in Nepal, it is
recorded by Pradhan18 that there were already a group
of devotees performing regular bhajan or hymn singing
accompanied by harmonium and tabla in an inn atop of
the sacred Swayambhu stupa of Kathmandu. But these
hymns were mostly about amorous activities of Hindu
gods and goddesses. The daily visitors to the Swayambhu
stupa early in the morning unfailingly saw these people
singing in the chorus.
When Theravada Buddhism was introduced in the
Kathmandu Valley, many younger were inspired, so much
so that in 1937, they began to conduct the recitation of
Buddhist hymns regularly at the Swayambhu stupa, the
very place where Hindu hymns were sung. However, since
there was no book of Buddhist hymns in the vernacular,
they took Buddhist songs from a book in Hindi and few-
very old Buddhist religious poetries (hymns)19 In the
beginning, Bhikshu Mahapragya composed some of the
Buddhist hymns in Hindi and vernacular. It quickly got
very popular among Nepalese mass. Gradually, Gyanmala
hymns in vernacular were composed and became very
Al though theGyanmalacanbeconsidered as adevelopment
of the Bhajan in some ways, it is different in its nature and
context. The Bhajan has more of a devotional or Bhakti
character with hymns praising of God or deities, while
the Gyanmala is unique in its message of awakening, self-
conscious and the absence of references to God. Most
Sakya/Buddhist Hymns and...Buddhism in Nepal
17 Gyanmala hymns are composed based on the Buddha's
teaching or the life of the Buddha. It is used alternative
to the sermon because Gyanmala can educate singers and
listeners to be aware of Buddha's doctrines as well as a
means of religious politics campaign.
In the beginning, Gyanmala was often used to educate the
mass about the awakening from ignorance and encourage
people to keep five precepts. However, there are also few
hymns which indicate the praising for the king (after his
demise). Some of those hymns have an indirect effect of
arousing patriotic feelings. Still, some hymns teach about
the gender equality in Buddhism which have again indirect
effect upon the negating the Hindu ideas prevailing at
that time. As a whole, the Gyanmala pervades around the
whole Buddhist ideas of 'freedom from suffering', 'doing
well for the sake of the majority', 'conceptualizing the
principle of impermanence' etc. Accordingly, it became a
very effective tool of Theravada revivalism in Nepal. Many
Gyanmala hymns emphasise on abstaining from alcohol
which is a part of Nevvar Buddhism rites and rituals. The
simplicity of vernacular language and the context of each
hymn are very powerful to convince the crowd. Crowd
of any aged group and regardless of their educational
background can enjoy these hymns. Wherever there is
a Gyanmala hymn-singing crowd is easily drawn into
listen. Gyanmala hymn became the most popular means
to convey the Buddha's doctrines to the mass and a very
effective means of transmitting Theravada Buddhism.
V. Monks and Music
The Gyanmala is the product of the Theravada revivalism
in Nepal and monks themselves composed most hymns,
however, Theravada Buddhist monks are forbidden by
the Vinaya, or monastic code, to participate in Gyanmala
hymn-singing if it is accompanied by music. Based on
eight precepts and monk's 227 monastic rules music is
prohibited for one who observe those precepts.
Despite these restrictions, the history of Theravada
Buddhism shows that hymns and music have been part of
Buddhism. For example, at Wat Bovoranives, a 200 years
old royal Thai Theravadin temple in Bangkok, Thailand,
there is a tradition of beating a Klong Mahoratuek (rain-
drum, frog-drum, Karen drum) before the daily morning
and evening chanting of monks by a layman while a
monk of a certain rank lights ceremonial candles before
altar. This is still being practised now. I was also told by
His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the Supreme
Patriarch and the abbot of Wat Bovoranives (who is
currently 93) that, in fact, in old days together with the
drum beating there was also the tradition of blowing
conch shell which has been lost now.
Going back further, if we look at the canonical texts we
find several sources of singing hymns and music. The
form of praising the Buddha or Triple Gem has been
age-old practice within the Buddhist culture and it was
practiced even when the Buddha was still alive. There
are so many records in Pali Canon which tell about the
hymn-singings. For example, there is a story in the Pali
Canon20 that once the King of the Gods (Sakka) wishes to
see the Buddha who was residing and enjoying the bliss
of meditation in Magadha. Therefore, asked Pancasikha,
a musician god (gandltarva) in heaven to inform Buddha
with his melodious music and songs. Pancasikha with his
yellow beluva-wooA lute approached where the Buddha
was residing near the Indasala Cave and from not too far
away Pancasikha, to the strains of his lute, sang verses
extolling the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Arhants, and love.
The Canon further states that it was appreciated by the
Buddha himself: 'Pancasikha, the sound of your strings
blends so well with your song, and your song with the
strings, that neither prevails excessively over the other'
This clearly shows that the Buddha was listening to
Pancasickha's music with his careful ears so that he was
able to give his comment on it.
Another sources in the Pali Canon21 states that a Brahmin
named Pingiyani sung praising the Buddha to another
Brahmin named Karanapali until the later overwhelmed
with the praising and took refuge in the Buddha.
In the Mahavagga of the Vinaya-pitaka of Pah Canon also
refers that the newly enlightened Buddha went to visit
King Bimbisara. Upon their meeting King Bimbisara was
overjoyed with the teaching of the Buddha King invited
the Buddha together wi th his monks for lunch at his palace
for the next morning. It states that when the Buddha and
the monks were in their way to the palace, the King of
the God (Sakka) transformed himself to be a young man
and led the Buddha and monks with singing and praising
all the way to the palace. Along the way, people were
wondered that who Sakka is, whose appearance is very-
handsome and his praising hymn is very melodious. The
Sakka answered their questions in hymn that he is the
servant of the Buddha. In fact, the modern tradition of
having music bands leading Buddhist processions was
probably descended historically from this incident where
the Buddha and his disciples were led by hymn-singing
of Sakka.
Likewise, it is also states in the Pali Canon that after the
cremation of the body of the Buddha the Mallas honoured
the relics for a week in their assembly hall, having made
a lattice-work of spears and an encircling wall of bows,
with dancing, singing, garlands and music22.
These  are  only  few  examples   of hymn-singing  and
Newah Vijnana-6 music in the Pali Canon. Therefore, although monks are
forbidden from singing them it shows that it is okay to
ponder, listen and engage in one way or another if those
hymns were religious or spiritual not leading to delusion
and ignorance. These age-old styles of praising hymns
within Buddhism might be categorised under the bhajan
because most of these hymns are praising the Buddha or
Triple Gem. And it can be considered as the prototype of
the Gyanmala in the context of the Nepalese Theravada
Buddhism. Most of those hymns were very poetic, simple
to understand and easy to sing as hymns.
Although monks may not engage in Gyanmala hymn-
singing when it is accompanied with music but many
Gyanmala hymns have been always chanted by monks as
a part of their daily chanting in private and public.
VI. History of Gyanmala Hymn
In 1930s, the novice-monk Karmasheel (later renamed as
Sangha Maha Nayaka Pragyananda Mahasthavir) started
the work of Theravada revivalism in Nepal and not too
long he was succeeded in convincing many inhabitants
of the Valley, especially the younger, about the truth of
Buddhism and Buddhist identity. Shortly afterwards,
Mahapragya joined him in the revivalism work. One
of the remarkable things they did in their revival work
was encouraging Buddhist hymn-singing in vernacular
After seven years of hard work, in 1937, there were few
Nepalese who were inspired by Theravada Buddhism and
courage enough to imply hymn-singing and music into
the revivalism of Buddhism.
The first edition of Gyanmala was published in 1938 under
the title of 'Bhajan-mala' (Garland of Hymns)23. It was
printed in India by Bhikshu Pragyabhivamsa (a penname
of Bhikshu Dharmaloka of Nepal) at Kasia Matha
Kunwar, Kushinagara in India. It had no name on the front
page in order to avoid troubles with the Ranas' censors.
It was discreetly brought into Kathmandu by Bhikhsu
Dharmaloka and was first sung on the Swayambhu stupa.
The first edition of the Gyanmala book was of 13 pages
with 18 hymns. However, it was republished in 1941
with 20 pages. A year later in 1942, the first edition was
republished under the new title named 'Gyanmala' with
45 hymns. The publications of Gyanmala till the year of
1946 were all printed in India. Since then the Gyanmala
book has been keeping reprinting till now. The latest
edition of Gyanmala book is the 17th edition published in
1998. The over all copies of the printed Gyanmala is over
40,000 copies since its inception in 1938. Although in
each publication some of the hymns might miss out there
are also adding of new hymns in each publication. The
over all numbers of hymns in total is around 250 hymns
since its introduction.
With the invention of unique Gyanmala book and
'invention of tradition' of Gyanmala hymn-singing in
1938, an association named 'Gyanmala Bhajan Khalah,
Swayamabhu' (Gyanmala Hymn Group, Swayambhu)
was also established. Two years later a similar group
was formed in Kwa Baha, Lalitpur, and it named itself
the Taremam Sangha24 Later many similar groups had
sprung up everywhere both within and out of the Valley.
The latest numbers recorded of such group is 73. From
1943, both the Gyanmala books and the Gyanmala Hymn
Groups became known by the generic term 'Gyanmala'
(Garland of Wisdom)25 Despite its inception in 1938,
the national level of such association was just officially
registered with the government of Nepal in 2002 under
the umbrella name of 'National Gyanmala Association'
(Rastriya Gyanmala Samiti). In addition, it has extended
to other Nepalese communities living in India too such
as in Kalimpong. Through Gyanmala Buddhism slowly
became more accessible to people. The new generation,
especially the educated people, became more and more
attracted towards Buddhism. At the same time, it became
very popular among old generations because it is easy to
understand and to remember without reading books. Most
of older generations, particularly women, are illiterate
and by participating in the Gyanmala, it enables them to
remember and understand Buddhism. Consequently, the
Gyanmala Hymn Group became all the more popular.
People began to attend in large numbers wherever the
singing were held.
VII. Gyanmala and Political
The success of Gyanmala enraged the pro-Hindu Rana
Regime. By the year 1944, people in large numbers,
began to attend not only the Gyanmala hymn-singing
but also other Theravada sermons in different places.
Bigger masses of people gathered whenever occasional
ceremonies were held at any Buddhist monaster)'. Such
gathering of people was not favoured by the ruling Rana
government at all.
In 1944. the government ordered eight Theravadin
monks and novices in the Kathmandu Valley to sign
an undertaking that they would desist from teaching,
performing ordination, or worshiping the Buddha. When
they refused to comply, the Prime Minister, Juddha
Shamsher, exiled them to India. The harsh punishment by
the Rana Regime enraged devout Buddhists, especially
the Gyanmala Hymn Group.
The Gyanmala Hymn Group, in its turn, decided to parade
Sakya/Buddhist Hymns and...Buddhism in Nepal
79 a protest in the city with Gyanmala hymn-singing from
Swayambhu Hill top to the temple of the Lokeshwar at
Jana Baha, Kel Tol. On the full moon day of February
(Magha) unusually large numbers of Buddhists gathered
together at the Swayambhu Hill top and they protested in
procession by singing Gyanmala along the way into the
town. This protest enraged the police even though it was
done in a religious way with peace and devotion.
In November 1945, police invaded the Swayambhu
Gyanmala Hymn Group just after their daily hymn-
singing. Police seized all Gyanmala books and some
books were thrown away. Police charged people who
were singing Gyanmala that they were using illegal books
which were printed in India and they were charged for
forsaking Nepali, the national language. While there was
chaos in arresting some discreetly collected the discarded
Gyanmala books before the police could notice and
disappear from the scene. Police harassed the Gyanmala
singers and listeners badly and released them only on bail.
The police also charged the sellers of Gyanmala books.
Ultimately in 1947, the charged members of Gyanmala
Hymn Group were told to present themselves before
Padma Shumsher, the Rana Prime Minister. Fortunately,
the Prime Minister did not uphold the charge by police and
ordered the police to give them freedom in their religious
beliefs and hymn-singings in their own vernacular.
Since then the Gyanmala book written in Nepal Bhasa
vernacular come to be legalized.
To celebrate the triumph, the Gyanmala Hymn Group
organised a Gyanmala singing in downtown near the
house of the Police Superintendent. The gathering became
a big crowd and with a great enthusiasm hymns from the
Gyanmala book were sung in Chorus. It was observed
that the melodious voice of singers resounded throughout
the locality. Large numbers of people crowded around the
choir. Trays, bowls, containers of various items of food
were brought by the neighbours for the participants. The
hymn-singings went on almost for the whole night.
As the Gyanmala Hymn Group obtained the governmental
approval to function they began to expand their activities.
Having listened to the sermons of Theravada monks
Gyanmala Hymn Group expanded their activities as a part
of practicing Buddhism from hymn-singing in various
places to different charity works and social services.
Remarkably, some members of the Gyanmala Hymn
Group rendered enthusiastic service to the suffering
victims of the epidemic of Cholera which had broken out
in Kathmandu during the summer of 1947.
Likewise, in 1948, in Lalitpur the Taremam Sangha
joined with Hindu singers organised by Tulsi Meher to
sing Buddhist songs and 'Hare Ram' around the city of
Lalitpur as a protest against the political repression of
the Ranas. The police arrested about 150 people on that
This developed the culture of Gyanmala not only as
a hymn-singing culture for salvation but as a means of
social welfare and political protest.
VIII. Context of the Gyanmala
The Gyanmala in Nepalese context is not functioned
simply as a vernacular Buddhist text alone, but it is
influencing over several aspects of society. Although
most contexts of Gyanmala are dealing with the various
Buddhist doctrines based on Pali text there are also some
hymns which indirectly hint about religious-political
awareness. The current Gyanmala book is the 17th edition
printed in 1998. It includes 237 hymns of various contexts
which can be classified as follows:
Life of the Buddha and
Buddhist Teaching
Education and Moral
Moral Stories
Out of 237 Gyanmala hymns, 34.6% (82 in total) are
composed by Theravadin monks. Among those Bhikshu
Mahapragya (27 hymns), Bhikshu Subhodhananda (22
hymns) and Bhikshu Amritananda (15 hymns) composed
most of those Gyanmala hymns. However, Mahapragya
later disrobed and lived as a Buddhist hermit until his
demise. There are only 2 hymns composed by a Buddhist
nun (Anagarika Madhavi). 23.6% (56 in total) of the
Gyanmala hymns are without the name of the composers.
Out of those unknown composers some hymns are dating
back as early as 1864 (see Appendix II: 'Buddha Descends
to Lumbini').
Although there are many Gyanmala hymns of devotional
types they are different from bhajan style. Most hymns
praise the Triple Gems in the sense of a role model rather
Newah Vijnana-6 than divine figures. For example, see the lyrics in the
appendix I ('Wishes' and 'Recollection of the Buddha').
The Gyanmala hymn-singing is a very effective and
powerful tool in transmitting the Buddhist doctrines.
Many Gyanmala hymns teach about five precepts (e.g.
see Appendix I: 'Homage to the Buddha"), eight precepts,
wheel of life, suffering, karma, compassion, mindfulness,
endeavour, detachment, peace, impermanence (e.g.
see Appendix: 'Good Friends!'), morality, meditation,
wisdom (e.g. see Appendix I: 'The Light of Wisdom has
extinguished'), anger, choosing good friends, craving (e.g.
see Appendix I: 'Mental flame'), selflessness (e.g. see
Appendix I: 'Why Pride?'), Nirvana etc. Although many-
hymns are not direct translations of Pali they are based on
main Buddhist doctrines in Pali. Nevertheless, there are
few hymns which are direct translations of original Pali
to vernacular For example, some Gyanmala hymns are
direct translations of the Dhammapada and Discourse on
38 blessings (Mangala sutta).
Many Gyanmala hymns are composed based on the life of
the Buddha, his previous lives (specifically Vessantara),
and the lives of main disciples both monks and nuns (e.g.
see Appendix: 'Rahul on the lap of Princess Yasodhara,'
'Sundari's Love,' 'AmbraPali's wishes'). This is to make
Nepalese aware of the life of the Buddha as a human
not a divine. Specially, there are a group of hymns that
educate audience about Lumbini, the birthplace of the
Buddha and its location in Nepal. It was recorded that
it was only by Dharmaditya Dharmacharya, in 1920s,
Nepalese Buddhists were informed about the location of
Lumbini as in Nepal. Because of Hindu influenced the
location of Lumbini was not emphasised among Nepalese
Buddhists although in the history there are evidence that
Malla Kings from the Valley knew about the existed of
Lumbini in medieval period.
Still, there are few Gyanmala hymns which emphasise
on patriotic value among Nepalese and to love the King,
the head of the country. This is to educate audiences
about the opposition towards the Rana Regime who
ruled the country for 104 years in total. In addition, few
hymns convey message about loving one's country and
Buddhism. And some hymns encourage the importance of
vernacular and ethnic identity. In general, many hymns
give a message of being a good member of society by
practicing Buddhist doctrines in their daily lives.
IX. Conclusion
Bhikshu Amritananda, one who coined the term
'Gyanmala' warns in his foreword of the Gyanmala hymns
book that those who participate in Gyanmala hymn-singing
and listening should not entertain themselves on rhythm
of the hymns or propagate a purely devotional attitude,
but impart Buddhist wisdom. This is firm evidence that
although the Gyanmala hymn has its nature similar to
age-old tradition of Bhajan but in practicality it is used
differently The Gyanmala hymn is the first attempt to
transmit Buddhist doctrines in the vernacular and used
as alternative to the Pali in daily religious activities of
Nepalese Theravada community. Pali is used and useful in
a very limited literate group but the majority of Nepalese
Buddhists, particularly women, are illiterate, therefore,
the very efficient way to convince them about Buddhist
doctrines is through Gyanmala hymn in the vernacular.
In the modern period, the Gyanmala hymn has developed
into the digital world as there are so many Gyanmala
hymn CDs and cassettes from different Gyanmala hymn-
singing groups available in market. These liturgies are not
only limited in Buddhist temple or Buddhist programmes
but can be heard from radio and television broadcasting.
All age group who participate in Buddhist ceremonies
can memorise many of those hymns and many even use
as a part of their private daily worship in the house. It
is also sung in several cultural and religious parades and
processions. Everyone sings those Gyanmala hymns with
a great veneration and learn many Buddhist virtues from
As a final word, the Gyanmala hymn is one of the most
successful inventions of Theravada revivalism in Nepal
and one of the most popular among Buddhist devotees
to use as an alternative way to transmit Buddhism to
the masses. It has truly developed from being merely
devotional hymns to be a means of salvation. Recently,
the popularity of Gyanmala hymns has expanded into
wider Nepalese population by translating and composing
such Gyanmala hymns in Nepali, the official language.
A Gyanmala Hymn Group of Pokhara already succeeds
this attempt and many other groups based in Kathmandu
1 This paper is presented under the title of 'Buddhist
Hymns in Theravada Buddhism in Nepal' in the
First International Buddhist College Buddhist
Studies Conference organized by Than Hsiang
Temple, penag, Malaysia 11-13 August, 2006
2 Phra Sugandha (Anil Sakya), Assistant Secretary to His
Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, Supreme
Patriarch of Thailand, graduated from Cambridge
L'niversity and PhD in social Anthropology from
Brunei L'niversity, United Kingdom with the royal
scholarship from the King of Thailand. Currently,
he is Deputy Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences
in Mahamakut Buddhist University and Visiting
Professor at Mahidol Llniversity in Thailand and
Santa Clara University inCaliforna, USA.
Sakya/Buddhist Hymns and...Buddhism in Nepal
27 3 A dictionary definition of 'liturgy' is a particular set of
the words, music and actions used in ceremonies in
4 Skilling, Peter. 2002. 'Power, Compassion, Success :
Random Remarks on Siamese Buddhist Liturgy.' A
paper presented at UKBAS Day Conference, 3 July
5 LeVine, S. and Gellner, D. 2005. Rebuilding Buddhism:
The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century
Nepal. Cambridge: Harvard LTniversity Press. P.
" Gombrich, R. 1995. How Buddhism Began: The
Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings.
Malaysia: Synergy Books Internationa] p. 8-9
" The correct word should be 'Newah.' Newar is the term
used with prejudice by non-indigenous people
when they refer to the indigenous people of the
Kathmandu Valley. However, as the term has been
used widely in most literature I am following the
same suite in using Nevvar instead of Newah.
8 de Jong, J.W. 1997 A Brief History of Buddhist Studies
in Europe and America. Tokyo: Kosei Publishing
Co. p. 25
9 Whelpton, J. 2005. A History of Nepal. Cambridge: CUP
P- 155
10 They are 1.  Prem Bahadur Khyahju Shrestha (aka.
Nanikaji Khyahju Maske) renamed in Tibetan
as Kalsang Serup (Mahapragya) 2. Buddharatna
Shakya renamed in Tibetan as Kalsang Davva
(Mahachandra) 3. Dalchini Saymi renamed in
Tibetan as Kalsang Chulting (Mahagyan) 4.
Bekharaj Shakya renamed in Tibetan as Kalsang
Chundi (Mahavirya) and 5. Gyan Shakya renamed
in Tibetan as Kalsang Norbu (Mahashanti).
11 Mahapragya and Karmasheel (at the age of 32) later got
full ordination as a Theravada Bhikkhu in Myanmar
in 1931 and 1932 respectively.
12 An   explanation   given   by   Sukram   Maharjan,   the
chairman of Hnyaipu Gyanmala Bhajan Khalah
of Kirtipur. (Quoted by Shantaratna Shakya in his
article on 'the narrative of Gyanmala Bhajan' (in
Nepal Bhasa) published in the Gyanmala souvenir
publication on the occasion of the 2"d National
Gyanmala Conference in Tansen, Palpa in 1996.
13 Bhikshu    Dhammalok    Mahasthavir   and    Bhikshu
Amritananda (eds) 1992 Gyanmala Bhajan:
Buddhist Devotional Song Book. Kathmandu:
Gyanmala Bhajan Association, Swayambhu. p.
14 Gellner, D.  N. 2004. 'Three Buddhist Hymns from
Nepal' Guthi Nepal Sambat 1125:12-13, 16 (http://]) searched on 21
August 2005.
15 The Oxford World Encyclopaedia (computer version)
'" ibid. Gellner 2004
17 Lienhard, S.  1992.    Songs of Nepal: An Anthology
of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. Delhi: Motilal
Banarsidas Publishers Private Limited.
18 Pradhan, Bhuwan Lal. 1996. 'Jnanamaia Bhajan Khalah'
in Gyanmala (a souvenir). Kathmandu: Gyanmala
Mahasangha Nepah pp.32-38
" Ibid.
20 Walshe, Maurice. 1995. The Long Discourses of the
Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Kandy:
Buddhist Publication Society, pp.321-324
21 NyanaponikaTheraand Bhikkhu Bodhi. 1999. Numerical
Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas
from the Anguttara Nikaya. Oxford: AltaMira Press,
pp. 146-7
22 Walshe, Maurice. 1995. The Long Discourses of the
Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Kandy:
Buddhist Publication Society, p. 275
23 According  to  the  late   Bhikshu   Sudarshan  it  was
entitled 'Buddha Bhajan' (Buddha Hymns). This is
mentioned in his foreword for the Gyanmala Liturgy-
book entitled Shree Annapurna Gyanmala Bhajan
Khalah, printed in 1998 by Gyanmala Liturgy group
of Asan, Kathmandu.
24 ibid. Gellner 2004
25 ibid. Gellner 2004
'■"' ibid. Gellner 2004
de Jong, J.W. 1997. A Brief History of Buddhist Studies
in Europe and America. Tokyo: Kosei Publishing
Gellner, D. N. 2004. 'Three Buddhist Hymns from Nepal'
Guthi Nepal Sambat 1125:12-13, 16 (http://www. searched on 21 August
Gombrich, R 1995. How Buddhism Began: The
Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings.
Malaysia: Synergy Books International
LeVine, S. and Gellner, D. 2005. Rebuilding Buddhism:
The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century
Nepal. Cambridge: Harvard L'niversity Press.
Lienhard, S. 1992. Songs of Nepal: An Anthology
of Nevar Folksongs and Hymns. Delhi: Motilal
Banarsidas Publishers Private Limited.
NyanaponikaTheraand Bhikkhu Bodhi. 1999. Numerical
Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas
from the Anguttara Nikaya. Oxford: AltaMira
Pradhan, Bhuwan Lal. 1996. 'Jnanamaia Bhajan Khalah'
in Gyanmala (a souvenir). Kathmandu: Gyanmala
Mahasangha Nepah
Shantaratna Shakya. 1996. 'the narrative of Gyanmala
Bhajan' (in Nepal Bhasa) in Gyanmala souvenir
publication on the occasion of the 2"d National
Gyanmala Conference in Tansen, Palpa in 1996.
Shree Annapurna Gyanmala Bhajan Khalah, 1998.
Gyanmala Liturgy group of Asan, Kathmandu
Skilling, Peter. 2002. 'Power, Compassion, Success :
Random Remarks on Siamese Buddhist Liturgy.' A
paper presented at UKBAS Day Conference, 3 July
Walshe, Maurice. 1995. The Long Discourses of the
Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya.
Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society
Whelpton, J. 2005. A History of Nepal. Cambridge:
Newah Vijnana-6 Appendix I
Out of 237 hymns in the current edition of Gyanmala
hymns book I have translated here 11 most popular
hymns. Out of those eleven hymns five are composed
by Theravada monks and the rest by laymen. All eleven
hymns are of different themes and context. This shows as
an example that what sort of message are there within the
Gyanmala hymns. These hymns are not able to give exact
date but these are the recent production of the six decades
of Theravada revivalism in Nepal.
1. Homage to the Buddha
By Bhikshu Mahapragya
This hymn is an equal to the Pali verses of venerating
Buddha and taking refuge in the Triple Gem.
Firstly, we are here with devotion to take refuge in
the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Being afraid of the danger of sins here and now I
venerate (to Triple Gem).
If the Buddha would not be compassionate to me I
will be suffering here and now.
My human life is going to be wasted in this world
and will enter into the hell asain.
Five Precepts
I will never kill living beings and will not work as
Oh Lord! I will never commit adultery and sexual
desires again.
I  will   not speak untruth and drink distilled and
fermented liquor.
Oh Teacher! I surely will abstain from these and keep
the precepts.
2. Wishes
By Bhikkhu Amritananda
This hymn has a style of praying to the Buddha but of
course with a Dharmie understanding flavour. After
wishing things from the Triple Gem, it is interesting
to see that the hymn wish for a good king and future
development of Buddhism.
0 Lord Buddha! Give us an audience,
Give refuge to us, the ignorant.
Bless us Lord with Enlightenment,
Give us wisdom that benefits the world.
Show compassion to us, the Compassionate One,
Give eyes of wisdom to us, the blinds.
By the power of the Buddha may all living beings
be happy,
By  the  power of  the  Dharma  may  we  all   be
By the power of the Sangha may the loving-kindness
be grown,
May  we  be  able  to  devote  to  the  Triple Gem
May the King of Nepal be the righteous minded,
And   be  able  to  make  all   living  beings   happy
May our defilement be ceased with the growth of
doctrine and discipline.
1 beg, Your Lord! May I attain the state of immortality
3.  Recollection of the Buddha
By Bhikshu Subodhananda
This hymn informs the audiences about the birthplace of the
Buddha as in Lumbini and the place of enlightenment.
D>rd Buddha who came to make peace in the world,
We are here to see you with the flower of hearts.
You were born in Lumbini to become the Buddha.
You came to give peace to all gods, men and living
You  renounced  all   royal   luxuries   to  search  for
Sakya/Buddhist Hymns and...Buddhism in Nepal
23 You are the Saint who came to cease the suffering of
all sufferers.
You were the One who was enlightened under the
Bodhi tree at Buddha Gaya.
returned to his hometown after enlightenment and how
Princess Yasodhara described the Buddha to her son,
Rahul a.
You gave the very wisdom to the world, the good
current of peace.
You were the revolutionary who endured in patient
to give the peace.
You destroyed all violence, untruth, and corruptions.
You were the one who equally showed wisdom of
non-violence, precepts, and truth.
You were the one who showed the path of peace to
the suffering people.
4. Good Friends!
By Kanchabuddha Vajracharya
This hymn emphasizes on the Buddha's teachings on self-
consciousness and impermanency.
Eh! Good friends! Why you are too egocentric in
this impermanent world?
Life is like a dream so give up your pride.
At the end, no body will come with us not mother,
not father or brothers.
Nothing is permanent, one day we have to leave all
wealth, people, happiness, and property.
At the time of singing hymn to the feet of the Lord
Seeing through the mental eyes and recollecting the
impermanent world.
Life becomes invaluable when one clears the net of
becoming and lives in peace and happiness.
Our life is like a gem so leave the pride.
5. Rahul on the lap of Princess Yasodhara
By Cittadhara 'Hridaya'
This hymn depicts the very event when the Buddha first
Like the moon amidst the stars,
Like the commander of the Dharmic army,
That man preceding the Order of monks
Be known, my son, he is your father.
Like a fluttering flag in spring breeze,
Like a suffusing fragrant of beautiful flower,
That man preceding the assembly of monks
Be known, my son, he is your father.
Like a sharp point of a spear,
Like the mind preceding the senses,
That man preceding the group of monks
Be known, my son, he is your father.
Like the yoke preceding the wheels,
Like the needle preceding the stitch,
That man preceding the group of man
Be known, my son, he is your father.
Goal of austerity is the supreme Enlightenment,
Morality precedes meditation and wisdom,
That man preceding all the rest
Be known, my son, he is your father.
Like the face of patient and compassion,
Like the kinsmen of all sufferers,
Diseloser of the latest and simplest path,
Be known, my son, he is your father.
My son, go and beg him with your two hands,
'Oh! Great Sage! Give me my share of inheritance.'
Owner of massive gems, wealth, and property-
Be known, mv son, he is your father.
6. Mental flame
By Durgalal Shrestha
This hymn is another warning message for self-awaken
and be aware of mental defilements.
I beg you, O people, do not agitate
While my mind is blazing with desire.
Understand, O people, do not jump around
While danger and unhappiness chasing you after.
Newah Vijnana-6 Abandon, O people, the selfishness and pride
Be understood, it is suffering even though it looks
Learn, O people, to live in peace and happiness,
By recollecting the Buddha even only for few days
of living.
Like the wheels follow the ox's hoof,
Death follows the birth, O people.
One day we have to seek refuge from him,
O people, although we dislike the death.
7. The Light of Wisdom has Extinguished1
By Bhikshu Mahapragya
This hymn explains about the excellence of Buddhist
teachings and how one can appreciate it.
Wind came through the window, the light just went
Oh mother! How shall I close this window?
The eighteen good human qualities are missing,
While trying to find them, the light just went out.
Exceedingly beautiful, the jewel of understanding is
Searching searching, you cannot find it; the light just
went out.
The house of the five elements [i.e. the human body],
it is so beautiful,
It may be beautiful, but it has no grace; the light just
went out.
If there is a window bolt 1 could have closed it,
But there is no bolt of understanding; the light just
went out.
Oh devotees, listen to what the followers of the
Buddha have said:
[Peering out] through the window, the five senses
have spoilt the mind.
8.  Sundari's Love
By Dharmaratna Yami
This hymn describes about the love of Sundari with her
fiancee Nanda whom Buddha convinced to ordain as a
monk instead of marriage.
I am following Nanda, my beloved and beautiful one,
swimming across the ocean of love.
I will blissfully wear the robe,
(after) floating this royal garments.
The Well-Gone (Buddha) established the Sangha
In which includes all refugees of the world,
Lived in there hoping to cease the suffering
I am going there today holding the alms bowl.
Once I entered there with the wings of eagerness
I will try to be free and pure.
Reaching there I will be able to cut
The thorn of life with a dharma knife.
I   subdue  this  sorrowful   flame  with  the  cooling
Being restraint I kill it blissfully.
I will keep this cutting wound in my mind
Just like the dust from my beloved feet.
Spending daily life happily
In this royal luxuries
I don't want to die playing the braving music
Neither  through listening  to tasteful   entertaining
But in a scary graveyard or side rode rest house
If not in a deep thick jungle
Tiding once mind in the middle or side ground
I die hearing that Nanda attained Arhat.
9.  AmbraPali's Wishes
By Asharam Shakya
This hymn tells about a part of Ambrapali's life.
I take refuge in Buddha, I take refuge in Dharma, I
take refuge in Sangha.
Be    understood,    be    understood    that    life    is
It is full of craving, ignorance and anger
Casting the net of love and pride I curse myself
O Master! I am here to take vour refuge,
Sakya/Buddhist Hymns and...Buddhism in Nepal
25 Burning the mental  defilement with the light of
We dedicated our supreme life for others
The truth and non-violence becomes me,
After seeing through your teachings,
O Master! I take your refuge having distant from
desire and ignorance.
10. Why Pride?
By Abhayananda
The hymn emphasizes on the principle of impermanency
O Mind! don't talk with such a big pride
Why there is unnecessary desire just to live for few
Why such a pride claiming this is mine, this is
The king of death chases in no times
Look!    This    world    is    not    stable   and    it    is
It is going round and round just like the potter's
Consider good company and good wisdom
Be generous and restraint the five senses.
Devotion will cultivate once you have the wisdom
Having devotion you will attain liberation.
Listen, all good men, said by Abhayananda
Finally there is nothing despite what you have done
(so far).
11. Remembering the Buddha
By Samanera Sudarshan
This hymn not only talks about the awakening of the
Buddha but also some sense of patriotic feeling among
To bring world peace, loving-kindness and unity let
us wake up now.
Remembering the Buddha's birth, our sleeping time
is over now,
Living in darkness up to now, don't you have to see
the light?
Remembering the Buddha's enlightenment, wake up
all Nepalese;
don't you need to wake up?
Stand on your own feet; you will attain your own
path of deathlessness.
While we are busy talking He (the Buddha) has died,
aren't you going to wake up with understanding?
Appendix II
The following hymns are ancient religious poetries dated
as early as 17th century but some of these hymns are also
included in the current Gyanmala hymn book and widely
sung in different occasions. These hymns are recorded by
Lienhard" in his book Songs of Nepal: An Anthology of
Nevar Folksongs and Hymns.
1. Buddha descends to Lumbini
The Bodhisattva passes from his abode in the Tusita
Heaven, in order to be reborn as Gautama Buddha, and
Gods and Lokapalas hasten to pay him respect. The song
was composed in A.D. 1865 during the reign of Surendra
Yira Yihrama Saha (A.D. 1847-1881)
Homage to the venerable Buddha is arriving at the
grove of Lumbini.
He arrives and causes Brahma to sweep the ground
before him; Sarasvati to spread a carpet; Kubera,
the king of the town of Alankapuri, to throw about
money and wealth;
And causes the God Yayu to fly his fan; the god Agni
to burn incense, the king of the Nagas, Varuna, to
make streams of water flow;
Mahadeva to beat his drum; Narayana to blow his
conch; King Yama to take his staff in hand and clear
the wav;
It's dawn, dear friends, let us go to take refuge in the
Buddha and Dharma.
Indra holds an umbrella over him; crowd of monks
to fan him with chowries (whisk made of Yak's tail);
heaven to rain a shower of flowers. Lie arrives with
feelings of joy.
Newah Vijnana-6 He arrives, borne by Sesanaga, together with Nairrta,
.Inanakara and others, and accepts their worship.
This song was composed in the year 'forest-elephant-
jewel' (i.e. 1865) when the glorious Surendra was
King. The singer, a poor man, says: I take refuge in the
Intending to eliminate dying, being born, growing
old, and sickness, 1 am now leaving home and shall
attain knowledge.
I shall frighten the hosts of Mara. I shall kill the Ego-
maker, and shall destroy all the sufferings of this
2. Buddha Sakyamuni
A song, describing the beauty and the virtues of Buddha
Sakyamuni, composed during the reign of Srinivasa
Malla of Patan (A.D. 1681-1684) V. 4 probably alludes to
Buddha's meditation before attaining enlightenment and
to his temptation by Mara.
Most beautiful is the son of Maya Devi. He protects
the universe.
Golden is his complexion and infatuating are the
auspicious marks on his body; and extremely fitting
is his ochre robe.
His eyes shine like lotus petals. He is beautiful, he,
the Lord with curly hair.
I shall come again in time. Sons I shall make monks,
and then speak about dharma.
In order to close the path of evil, I shall lead the
people to the path of dharma. I shall rejoice in the
city of salvation.
Let us now see the year of the Nepal Era which is,
let us say, 'eye-arrow-opening.' One may forgive the
faults (made) by the speaker.
4. Yosadhara
Yasodhara, Siddhartha Gautama's wife, here speaks to a
female friend, expressing her apprehensions after Gautama
has left home and entered upon the religious life. This
song, too, was composed by Amritananda Pandit.
He delights in doing good to others, milking happy
whosoever has been miserable.
When thousands of beautiful women came to the
place where he practiced Yoga and meditation, he
made them fail in their attempt to distract him by the
power of his love.
He has no longing for worldly things. He always
remains serene. He has attained the highest path of
Srinivasa Malla, king of Nepal, is the hope of the
distressed people in this world.
3. Siddhartha Gautama addresses
Siddhartha Gautama addresses his wife Yasodhara before
leaving home. The song was composed by Amritananda
Pandit, a Sakyabhikshu by birth, who, because of his
outstanding knowledge, was later promoted to the rank of
Yajracarya. Amritananda is also known to have written the
continuation of Asvaghosa's Buddhacarita He assisted
B.H. Hodgson in his research-work on Nepal. The song
was composed in A.D. 1832.
You should not feel sorrow. Yasodhara. In adversity
it helps to be composed.
Oil friend: how w ill my Lord remember me?
He is the jewel of the noble race of the Sakyas.
He is the Lord of the three worlds. In this world there
is no wise man like him.
He may see their beautiful bodies, and, while looking,
his mind may be attracted.
He may sit in the company of the heavenly maidens.
I have become his royal consort, I am pregnant and
This life of mine, a sinful woman - how is it to be
I, the singer, am an ignorant person. He is the Lord
of all bliss.
The numbers 'forest-suffering-ocean' will reveal the
' Translated by David Gellner see Gellner 2004.
" Ibid. Lienhard 1992
Sakya/Buddhist Hymns and...Buddhism in Nepal
27 Newar
A Summary of the Literature
Gwendolyn Hyslop
University of Oregon
1.0 Introduction1
The primary goal of this paper is to illustrate the classifying
system in Kathmandu Newar. To do so, I will review the
previous studies devoted to Nevvar classifiers and add my
own observations or comments, based on data received
from a Newar consultant2. I will summarize al the end
of the paper and discuss how Nevvar classifiers fit the
typology described by Aikhenvald (2000). Namely, I will
conclude that Kathmandu Nevvar has a numeral classifier
system consisting of roughly twenty genera) classifiers, as
well as some unique classifiers (used somewhat arbitrarily
for only one lexical item) and 'repealers' or 'reduplicative'
classifiers. Newar classifiers are used primarily in
numerical noun phrases, but I will show that the domain
in which they are used is somewhat broader than this.
Thus the system falls into what Aikhenvald (2000) refers
to as a multiple classifier language. This study will also
necessarily briefly mention two related systems: one that
perhaps could fall under the category gender, and another
that has been described as one of verbal classifiers. The
former seems intricately tied to the system of numeral
classification, while the latter is completely disparate.
2.0 Background
2.1 Newar
Newar is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Nepal,
primarily in the Kathmandu valley, by approximately
690.000 speakers (Hargreaves 2003). Of the roughly ten
dialects of Newar (Shakya 2000), Kathmandu Nevvar
is often considered the 'standard'; however, even this
exhibits much variation and has not been standardized
(Genetti 1992). The placement of Nevvar in within Tibeto-
Burman has been controversial, although it seems most
sources agree it falls within Bodic.
2.2 Classifiers
Classifiers have been the focus of many studies in modern
linguistics, especially over the last 30 years, the current
interest perhaps piqued by Greenberg (1972). Craig
(1986) seems to be the beginning of examining classifiers
in terms of typology, followed up in Craig (2000) and
Aikhenveld (2000). The remainder of this section is
drawn exclusively from Aikhenveld (2000).
Not all languages of the world use classifiers, but those
that do tend to be in geographic proximity to other
languages with classifiers. Languages can employ many
types of classifiers, including noun classifiers, numeral
classifiers, classifiers in possessive constructions, verbal
classifiers, and locative and deictic classifiers, all of which
are distinguished from a noun class or gender system of
the Bantu (noun class) or Indo-Aryan (gender) type, for
Noun classifiers help to distinguish nouns in a noun phrase
and are defined primarily by the fact that their presence
is independent of any outside constituent. Further, the
choice of the classifier is based on semantics and one
noun may take different classifiers depending on fluid
pragmatic semantic notions. More than one noun classifier
can co-occur in the noun phrase, and they can be used
anaphorically Finally, the size of the inventory can vary
from a relatively small, closed set, to one that is larger
and fairly open. Noun classifiers have been observed in
Australian and Mesoameriean languages. The data in (1-
2) below, drawn from Craig (1986b:264) illustrate noun
classifiers in Jacaltec.
(1)   caj              iel
red             ncl
'The tomato is ripe'
Newah Vijhana-6 (2) xil ix ix huneJ      hin
no7            txitam        tu7
saw ncl woman      one my
ncl pig that
'The woman saw thai one pig of mine'
Numeral classifiers are the most recognized type of
classifier, found canonically in languages of East and
Southeast Asia. Newar, like other languages in the
area, employs a system (albeit expanded) of numeral
classifiers. Numeral classifiers appear next to the numeral
inside a quantified noun phrase. The choice of classifier
is predominantly based on semantics, and it is often the
case that different speakers use different classifiers for
the same noun, as is illustrated in lnoue (2000). In her
study on Japanese classifiers, lnoue found that speakers
who had lived outside of Japan for an extended period of
time had different classifiers than those who had not left
Japanese culture. A final property of numeral classifiers is
that not every noun need be associated with a classifier.
The Yagua data in (3-4) illustrate numeral classifiers
(Payne 1997:108).
(3) tin-kit      valuru
1 -cls        woman (married)
'one married woman'
(4) fin-see     vaada
1-cls       egg
'one egg'
the noun phrase. They characterize a referent in terms
of semantics, often based on the familiar notions of
shape, size, consistency, structure, and animacy. They
always refer to an argument in the predicate, usually
an S argument in an intransitive, or an O argument of a
transitive predicate. The number of verbal classifiers in
a given language can vary from two to perhaps close to
one hundred. Languages with verbal classifiers are found
primarily in North America, Australia, South America,
and are extremely widespread in Papua New Guinea.
The data in (6-7) illustrate verbal classifiers in Mayali
(Australian: Evans 1996 in Aikhenveld 2000:5).
(6) ga-yaw-garrm-e al-daluk
'she has a baby girl'
(7) ga-rrulk-di an-dubang
An ironwood tree is there'(lit. a tree-is there
an ironwoodtree)
Locative classifiers are found only in locative noun
phrases and are chosen based on properties of shape,
dimensionality and boundedness of the head noun, but
interestingly, not animacy. This type of classifier is rare;
the only examples Aikhenveld gives are from the South
American languages Palikur, Lokono, Carib and Daw. An
example of the phenomenon in Palikur is shown below in
(8) (Aikhenveld 2000:173).
A third category Aikhenveld (2000) discusses is
categorization in possessive constructions. In such a
construction, the possessed noun can be categorized, the
semantic nature between the possessed and the possessor
can be categorized, or the possessor can be categorized,
all of which are relatively independent of each other. The
classifiers characterize the noun in terms of semantics,
such as animacy, shape, size and structure. They are not
found outside the possessive noun phrase, and every
noun in the language will not necessarily take a classifier.
Languages that use classifiers in possessive constructions
are found in North America, South America, Oceania,
and Microneisa, but not in Eurasia or Australia. Some
languages with multiple classifying systems also report
classifiers in possessive constructions, such as Hmong
and other related languages (Hyslop ms and Aikhenveld
2000:147), and Newar. An example of a possessive
classifier is shown below in (5) (Aikhenveld 2000:128).
(5)   y-uku-n wane
1sg-cl:uquid-gx honey
'my honey (mixed with water for drinking)'
Verbal classifiers are found on the verb, rather than in
pis       keh
arab    pi-wan
2sg      make
'You make a. shield on your arm'
The final type of classifying system Aikhenveld addresses
is one of deictic classifiers. They occur obligatorily with
deictic elements such as demonstratives and articles. They
are chosen based on the familiar properties of shape, size,
animacy, and also position in space. Deictic classifiers
have been reported in the American languages within the
Eskimo, Yuchi, Siouan, and Guaicuruan families. Deictic
classifiers can appear on the noun itself, or fused to the
demonstrative, as in the case of Eskimo. Citing Yidal
(1997), Aikhenveld (2000:180) gives the examples in
(9-10) to illustrate deictic classifiers. The classifier da7
gives a vertical orientation to the noun it precedes, and
ni7 provides a 'sitting, non-extended' orientation to its
following nouns.
da. 7
Hyslop/Newar Classifiers.
29 deicclivert    knife
'That person (standing) is eating something
with a knife'(i.e. He/she shows the knife
which is in a veritele position)
(10)    hi7 siyaq netawe
fii7 emek
cunon.ext      animal        hoc
clinon.ext      house
'The animal is inside the house'
3.0 Newar Classifiers - Previous
Classifiers in Nevvar have been the focus of a number of
studies. The first study of which I am aware is Hale and
Shresthacharya's (1973) article which used Greenberg's
(1972) criteria to ascertain that Newar indeed utilizes
noun classifiers. Since their paper, a small number
of subsequent studies have appeared, adding to the
observations that Hale and Shresthacharya made. A few-
have offered different analyses or broadened the term
'classifier' to cover separate phenomenon. I will take
each study in turn, concluding with the most recent study
Shakya (1997).
3.1 Hale and Shresthacharya
In their study, Hale and Shresthacharya (1973) take each
one of Greenberg's implicational universals for classifiers
and consider its relevancy for Nevvar. According to
Greenberg, a classier language must have 'non-unit
counters'. Hale and Shresthacharya demonstrate this
with data such as shown in (11) below, e.g. (Hale and
Shresthacharya 1973:2).
(11)    saphuu
'a slack of books'
Greenberg also noted that no classifier language would
lack 'quasi-unit counters' and that among these 'counters'
are two types: those naming countable units lacking in
wholeness, and those which 'function as particulates'
(Hale and Shresthacharya 1973:2). English examples
given by Hale and Shresthacharya are 'slice of bread',
'piece of meat' and 'sheet of paper', where 'slice', 'piece'
and 'sheet' are examples of the former (units lacking
wholeness). A Newar example of the former is illustrated
below in (12) (Hale and Shresthacharya 1973:3).
(12)    la cha-kuu
meat        one-piece
'a piece of meal'
The 'particulates' to which Hale and Shresthacharya refer
are exemplified by the English 'grain of sand' and 'blade
of grass". They give the data in (13) as an example from
Newar (1973: 3).
(13) la: cha-phuti
water one-drop
'a drop of water'
Hale and Shresthacharya also consider Greenberg's
'measure constructions' in terms of Newar. Measures
differ from the previously discussed constructions in that
measures themselves do not have a 'reality apart from the
numeral and noun head' (Hale and Shresthacharya 1973:3).
They use 'ounce' as opposed to 'apple' to illustrate the
difference. Such a construction is demonstrated by the
Newar data below.
(14) kapa:      cha-sa:
cloth        one-bolt
'a boll of cloth'
According to Greenberg (1972), true classifiers will
possess the following characteristics:
(a) They are overt expressions of unit counting.
(b) They are used with reference to structured units
which are normally counted as individuals.
(c) They impose a semantic classification upon the
head noun.
(d) They function as individualizers of a head which
is indeterminate for number
(e) They have no reality outside of Ihe numeral
Llale and Shresthacharya show how Newar fares with
regard to each of these criteria
A classifier must be used when counting, as shown in
(15) che cha-kha
house one-cuHousE
'one house'
* che cha
The semantics of the data in (15) exemplify the second
point listed by Greenberg. That is, the nature of a 'house'
is a whole, countable, individual entity. A structured unit
according to Hale and Shresthacharya (1973) is defined
as something that, once broken in half, is not seen as two
units, but rather one (broken).
Newah Vijhana-6 Greenberg's third criterion is exemplified by a
homophonous set which is disambiguated by separate
classifiers. This is shown in (16) and (17) in which the
classifier imposes a sense of 'roundness' for 'earthen pot'
(16) or 'animateness' for 'woman dwarf.
(16) bhega:
'one earthen pot'
(17) bhutu
'one woman dwarf
The fourth point Greenberg named is that the classifier
will individualize a head noun which would otherwise
be indeterminate for number. Thus the data in (18)
are completely acceptable (Hale and Shresthacharya
(18)   ji saphuu       nyae ma du
1 [gen]     book buy need        is
T have to buy book [one or many]
For the final point Hale and Shresthacharya note that only-
one classifier is also used outside of the classifier phrase;
mha, in addition to being the classifier for animate beings,
it also means 'body'. The remaining 37 pose no problem,
and, as we shall see, mha turns out to be exceptional in
more ways than just this apparent polysemy.
Once establishing the presence of the classifying system
Hale and Shresthacharya identify seven semantic classes
of true  classifiers   (animate  mha,  geographic  feature,
activity-, state, miscellaneous gu, round, container, house
part ga, gwa\ flat, paired pa, long, thin, literary form pit,
flower shaped phwa and circular ca.) They also identify a
total of 314 idiomatic classifiers, which consist of unique
and reduplicative classifiers for a combined total of 38
Lnique classifiers are defined as being used for one and
only one noun. Hale and Shresthacharya identify the
following unique classifiers and their heads: duwa for
lukha 'gate', kha for che 'house', ku for gha: 'wound',
pwa: for mala, 'lamp', ta for mari 'pastry'5 tlia6 for puja
'worship' and thu for bana 'arrow'.
The largest section of classifiers identified by Hale and
Shresthacharya are what they refer to as 'reduplicative'
classifiers, or in Aikhenvald's (2000) terminology
'repeaters'. Table One below illustrates the Newar
repeaters identified by Hale and Shresthacharya. It remains
unknown why each of these nouns is not classified by one
of the established classifiers.
Newar also exhibits quantified NPs in which the head
noun is not present, for example (Hale and Shresthacharya
'one month'
(20)    clta-nhu
'one day'
Table One: Repeaters (adapted from Hale and Shresthacharya
'window sill'
Tie string'
pal a:
Hyslop/Newar Classifiers.
31 (21) dd-chi
'one year'
There are two additional points of interest in the data
(19-21). First, the lack of a head noun begs the alternate
interpretation that these expressions are actually quantified
NTs lacking classifiers. T'sou (1976) notes that units of
lime are similar to units of weight, volume, distance, etc,
which are themselves 'classifiers'. The second point of
interest is the difference between (19) and (21) and (20).
Note that in (19) and (21) the number follows the classifier
and appears as chi, rather than cha. The reasons for this
are unknown. Hale and Shresthacharya do not address it,
and my attempts at explanation have been fruitless. In A
Dictionary of Classical Newari (ed. Malla) both chagu
and chi are translated as 'one'. An additional entry for
chi (alternate chiiri) defines it as a 'suffix denoting unit,
similarity, etc' (2000:133).This is not the only occurrence
of this construction, but no further attempt to understand
it will be made in this article
Another observation made by Hale and Shresthacharya
is concerning the broad uses of gu and mha, described
in the paper as the miscellaneous inanimate classifier
and the animate classifier, respectively Aside from the
expected uses of gu and mlia as a classifier in numeral
noun phrases, the authors show how both can be used as
relativizers (the authors use the term 'adjectival marker')
as shown in the data below. Note that when mha is used in
(22) it provides the reference for a person while when gu
is used the referent is inanimate (Hale and Shresthacharya
(22) wa:s-mlia manu
came-CL:AMM     person
'theperson who came'
(23) wa dha.-gu kha
3rd.erg say- cl.inaw cop
'the topic aboul which she spoke'
A further point of divergence for gu from the remainder
of the inanimate classifiers is the fact that gu can be
used in place of other classifiers and this use only
slightly changes the semantics. This is exemplified by
the  data   below   (Hale  and   Shresthacharya   1973:14).
(24) che cha-kha
house      one-CL:nousE
'one house'
(25) che cha-gu
house      one-CL:iN.\x
'a certain house'
Hale and Shresthacharya report that speakers differ widely
with regard to the acceptability of such constructions. My
consultant reports (25) is perfectly acceptable and that
it will be used in the instance when the speaker knows
to which house they are referring, while (24) is reserved
for more general instances in which the speaker does not
have a specific house in mind.
Finally, all the examples 1 have shown are in the order
noun-numeral-classifier, with the exception of instances
with chi, in which the numeral follows the classifier.
Hale and Shresthacharya point out that another order is
also possible. The data in (26) show the order numeral-
classifier-noun (Hale and Shresthacharya 1973:21).
(26)    cha-kha che
one-CL:iiousE house
'one house'
To summarize, this first consideration of Newar classifiers
describes 38 'true' classifiers based on Greenberg's (1972)
criteria. Six of these classifiers are based on the semantic
properties of animacy, roundness, two-dimensionality,
long thinness, flower-shaped and circular with a seventh
generic inanimate classifier that has the broadest semantic
range. Hale and Shresthacharya also identified seven
unique classifiers, which serve to classify only one noun
each, and 24 repeaters, or nouns that classify themselves
in quantifiable expressions. Classifiers referring to time
were illustrated in noun phrases lacking heads, and within
these data we were also shown a unique construction
with chi serving as the numeral 'one' (rather than cha)
and following the classifier rather than preceding it. The
classifier and noun are always juxtaposed, although it is
possible to have the noun occur before the numeral and
classifier. Generally Nevvar classifiers are reported only
in quantified noun phrases, although gu and mha were
shown to have a greater functional load.
3.2 Malla
In 1985 Kamal P. Malla published The 'Newari Language:
A working outline' in which he briefly discusses the
classifier system. His definition of true classifiers is as
'overt expressions of unit counting; they are used
with reference to structured units which are normally
counted as individuals. They impose a semantic
classification upon the head noun. They function as
individualizers of a head which is indeterminate for
number They have no reality outside the numerical
construction.' (p54).
Newah Vijnana-6 He identifies 29 true classifiers, only nine of which impose
a semantic classification. Like Hale and Shresthacharya
he includes mha, gu, ga,pa,pu and ca: which correspond
to the semantic fields defined by Hale and Shresthacharya.
The classifier pa: is added and Malla includes it with pa in
categorizing two-dimensional or paired objects. It is not
clear if the two are completely interchangeable. Instead
of gwa, Malla includes go but does not elaborate on the
distinction nor show data with go. The final deviation from
the 1973 study is the use of pho in place of phwa. These
last two deviations seem likely due to either orthographic
conventions of the authors or slight phonological
differences between the subjects of the study. Thus, in
this study no new semantic fields are introduced amongst
the true classifiers9. Malla also recognizes the same seven
unique and the same 25 repeater classifiers as Hale and
Shresthacharya, the only difference being rather thanpwa
and pwaa Malla lists pwa and po.
In a more notable deviation from the previous analysis,
Malla notes that 'all reduplicated quantifiers are also
potentially direct quantifiers . . . they can be quantified
without reduplication' (1985:56). The data he uses to
illustrate this are shown below.
(27) cha ha:
one leaf
'one leaf
(28) cha dho:
one line
'one line'
(29) cha bah
one liarvest
'one harvest/field'
This observ ation poses further evaluation of the system.
Indeed, my consultant concurs with Malla, and in fact,
states that many of the 'repeaters' must be directly
quantified, rather than be repeated with the classifier.
The potential rationale and ramifications of this shall be
speculation upon in section four.
Thus to summarize, Malla adds one classifier, pa.:, which
is used in the same semantic domain as pa, and notes that
nouns classified with repeaters may occur on their own,
without the classifier.
3.3 Bhaskararo and Joshi (1985)
In their study Bhaskararao and Joshi make a number of
new observations. The first section is devoted to what they
call verbal classifiers, which is the first and only study
of these morphemes of which I am aware. They also add
to the hst of numeral classifiers, expand on the contexts
of use and elaborate on gu and mha. I will address the
numeral classifiers here but will not examine the verbal
In addition to the more common classifiers identified
by Hale and Shresthacharya (1973) and Malla (1985)
Bhaskarao and Joshi propose 14 additional semantic
classifiers. They maintain mha, gu,pu,phwa, ca, gM>a and
pa, noting that the semantic contexts of mha are extended
to dolls and other non-animate items resembling animate
form. The classifiers they add, twa:, ha:, ka, ta„ tin, pwa:,
ku,pa:,pata, phuti, ma, dhwa:, will be taken in turn.
Semantically similar to pu, (long and thin objects) they
examine twa: and ha:. The semantics of these are similar
to pu, although based on the translations these eould be
seen as measures instead, perhaps akin to English 'stick',
as in 'a stick of butter'. The authors do not give examples
of each used with the same noun, but my consultant
supplied the following data.
(30) cha-pu main
one-cuLONG objects     candle
'one candle'
(31) cha-ha:ka main
one-CL: long.piece candle
'one piece of candle'
(32) cha-twa: main
one-CL: longer, piece      candle
'one longer piece of candle'
As shown in (31), the construction is ungrammatical with
ha: alone modifying the noun. The meaning of kha is
unclear and Bhaskararo and Joshi do not mention it. They
do supply an example with ha:, however, shown below
in (33).  '
(33) ni-ha      suka
two- cl:long.piece     thread
'two longer pieces of thread'
Similar to the above Bhaskararao and Joshi also briefly
discuss tu, which is used with 'nouns denoting strands of
threads that constitute a thicker thread' (1985:26). The
example they give follows below in (34).
(34) ni-tu ka(tu)
tv,'o-CL:THREAD thread
'twofine threads'
Hyslop/Newar Classifiers.
33 One classifier has a particularly limited use. ka is with la
'short path', st 'piece of firewood' and lha 'hand' but the
use with this latter is restricted to contexts when denoting
hands of a many-handed deity. In other contexts Ilia uses
the classifier pa reserved for items occurring in pairs. For
example (1985:26):
ten-cuKA hand
'ten hands'
It is not obvious that there is a shared semantic sense
between these three, nor do Bhaskararao and Joshi mention
a motivation; however, the Newar-English Dictionary
(Manandhar 1986) lists ka as being the classifier for
'long, thin objects' (27), and if 'hands' are imagined in the
context of connected to arms of a deity (who often have
multiple arms), the semantics described in the dictionary
could hold.
Another set of classifiers distinguish items falling into
a sort of group. According to Bhaskararao and Joshi ihi
'stands for the number of types in a given group' while
ta 'stands for the total number of tokens in that group'
(1985:26). The authors illustrate with a scenario in which
five sweets constitute a group. Two of the sweets are of
one type while three are of another. Counting the five
items would invoke the classifier ta while counting the
number of types (two) would invoke the classifier Ihi.
The Newar-English Dictionary defines ta as being the
classifier exclusively for man, or pastries, or as a 'quasi-
classifier10' for 'kinds, patterns' and thi as 'kind' or 'class
According to Bhaskararo and Joshi pwa: is used for 'soft
packets', such as breasts or gall bladders, as shown in (36)
(36) ni-pwa: duru-pwa:
Im'o-cl:soft.packets   milk-packet
'two breasts'
This classifier also shows up with 'button' in their paper
(adapted from 1985:19).
(37) ni-phwa" tu:k
tWO-CLtSOFT. PACKETS    button
'two buttons'
Other classifiers that are also reserved for a smaller set of
items include ku, for bodily wounds, dhwa:, for lines and
pwa./hwa: for holes (for Hale and Shresthacharya dhwa:
and pwa: were considered repeaters). Amongst this latter
pair the main difference is that/wfl: can be used for natural
holes, such as nostrils, while hwa: cannot. Interestingly,
the apparent phonological and semantic similarity
between pwa: and pwa: should be noted. The former has
been attributed to 'soft packets', but data suggest it could
also be attributed to round objects. The latter is attributed
to 'holes', which lend to be by definition also round. As I
will show later, to further complicate the situation, pwa:
is considered a unique classifier for 'light'.
For small spots pata and phuti are used. When referring
to small round marks, or spots, such as sitia: 'vermillion
mark', chap 'sandal paste mark' or sitra 'decorative
circular piece stitched on a sari' pata will be used. The
only instance of phuti given by the authors is with da:g
'spot' (which also takes pata as a classifier).
Bhaskararao and Joshi discuss only two repeaters: pi and
phi, which were not mentioned by Hale and Shresthacharya
or Malla. For large knives and trowels pi i s used while phi
is used for 'brooms'. Other than the straightforward kha
for 'house', they also mention one unique classifier, ma:,
which is used for garlands. Note that a number of Hale
and Shresthacharya's unique classifiers fall into semantic
categories for Bhaskararao and Joshi. In addition to the
above-mentioned dhwa: and pwa:, ku: and ta also have a
definable semantic domain.
As noted in previous studies classifiers are used in
numeral noun phrases. Bhaskararao and Joshi point out
that there are some numeral expressions in which the
classifier is omitted. Numerals larger than those which
inherently seem to refer to uncountable units optionally
take the classifier. Thus numerals such as 200 or 1,000
will optionally employ the classifier, as shown in (38) and
(39) (Bhaskararao and Joshi 1985:20).
(38) 200
ni-sa: (-mha) sa
two-hundred      (cl:axim) cow
'two hundred cows'
(39) 2000
For Bhaskararao and Joshi pa: is a homophonous classifier,
disparate from pa. In one sense pa: is used for saliently
two-dimensional objects which are not edible, such as
'sheet of paper', or 'mirror'. In the other sense pa: is used
only for 'preparations of clay. No further explication is
given regarding this former sense.
ni-dwa: (-mha) sa
two-thousand     (-cl:.a\im) cow
'two thousand cows'
My  consultant   prefers   these   data  without   the   mha,
Newah Vijnana-6 Interestingly, numerals such as 201, 2002, etc. require a
classifier. This seems likely due to the fact that 101 seems
inherently more countable than 100 or 1,000. This is
illustrated in (40) and (41) below.
(40)    201
ni-sa :-wa-cha-mha sa
lwo-hundred-and-one-CL:.ANiM   cow
'two hundred and one cows'
*ni-sA-wa-chA sa
(41)    2002
ni-dwa-w a-ni-mha sa
Iwo-lhousand-and-lwo-CL.-ANiM cow
'two thousand and two cows'
*ni-dwa-wa-ni sa
button( cl)
'two buttons'
'two horses'
(48)    ni-mha sala-mha
Iwo-cl:anim horse-body
'two bodies of dead horses'
My consultant agrees with the distinction between
(47) and (48) but for her (46) is unacceptable when the
classifier is repeated following the noun.
Norninalization with gu and mha is shown by the data in
(49) and (50). Note that an adjective or a verb can attach
to both, and that gu provides the sense of inanimacy while
mha denotes animacy.
In addition to within numeral noun phrases, Bhaskararao
and Joshi point out that Newar classifiers also occur in
adjectival noun phrases and with demonstrative and
interrogative noun phrases. Some data they give are
shown below (198:21),
(42) lhwa:-ma
Iliat.many-CL: plant
'this many plants'
(43) gwa:-pa:
'how many leaves?'
(44) ta:-rhi-mha
big -height-cl :anl\ i
'a tall cow'
(45) ta:-ja:-gu
'a I all cupboard'
The difference between mha and gu, on the one hand,
and the other classifiers, on the other hand is noted by
Bhaskararao and Joshi. Specifically they note that while
some nominal classifiers can be reduplicated after the
noun, doing so with mha or gu changes the meaning.
They can also serve to nominalize (called 'pronominal
suffixes') and are used in conj unction with other classi Hers
in some instances. The data in (46-48) illustrate this first
point. Namely note that in (46) the classifier pwa: appears
to be optional, while the repetition of the classifier in (48).
changes the meaning of the phrase.
(49) haku 'black'
'tlte black one (animate)'
'the black one (inanimate)'
(50) wa- 'come'
come. cl:anim
come- CL.1NAN
'lite one who came (animate)'
'the one who came (inanimate)'
In some adjectival, demonstrative or interrogative noun
phrases mha and gu can co-occur with the other classifiers.
See for example the data below.
'big bread'
'house thai big'
'how big grass'
(54)     ni-mha-mlia
Hyslop/Newar Classifiers..
35 two -cl : AV/A /- CL :-\NL\ i
'the second child'
Bhaskararao and Joshi refer the second classifier (gu or
mha) as 'connectors', following Hale (1970) but do not
further elaborate on them. Formy consultant, they prov ide
a sense of specificity. Without the second classifier the
phrase would refer to a general or perhaps abstract
occurrence of the noun, while the addition of either mha
or gu indicates the speaker has a specific instantiation of
the noun in mind.
In sum, this paper expands considerably on the previous
studies, although it seems to be cited much less than
Hale and Shresthacharya (1973). Bhaskararao and
Joshi identified a larger number of classifier, including
unique and repeater classifiers. They describe an
extended syntactic environment for these classifiers.
They demonstrate how classifiers are not used in all
numeral expressions, but rather when the number seems
inherently less countable. Further, the classifiers are
found in adjectival, demonstrative and interrogative
expressions. Bhaskararao and Joshi also elaborate on the
increased functions of gu and mha, showing how they can
function as relativzers and co-occur with other classifiers
(including themselves) in noun phrases. Finally, the
classifiers Bhaskararao and Joshi have added deserve
further investigation in another study. The extent to which
their classifiers are actually measure terms is unclear.
Some of the semantics in the translations indicate they
are a type of measure (see T'sou (1976), for example).
Because the situation is unresolved, I will include only
the reported classifiers with straightforward semantics in
the index.
3.4 Hale (1986)
Thirteen years later on his own, Hale includes a concise
description of the classifying system in his Llser's Guide
to the Newari-English Dictionary (Manandhar 1986).
Classifiers are suffixed to numerals and this constituent
can occur either preceding or following the noun, although
the tendency is for the noun to precede. Hale points out
that their syntactic domain is slightly expanded from
numeral expressions to include a variety of quantifying
expressions, as Bhaskararao and Joshi (1985) also noted.
What Hale (1986) adds to the study, however, is the
observation that in terms of form, classifiers are somewhat
noun-like in that they inflect for case. The data in (55) and
(56) illustrate the classifier ga: being inflected for locative
case (Hale 1986:xxxiv).
'There are two pots here'
(56)    cha-galae la:
one-CL:RouND.LOC liquid12
'In one of them there is water'
Newar classifiers, like nouns, are marked for nominative,
agentive, associative, dative and genitive case. Ablative
and locative forms often show old finals which have
been lost elsewhere in the language. For details on case-
marking in Nevvar see Shakya (1992), Genetti (1990),
Hale (1985), DeLancey (ms), etc.
Thus, this work provides a brief and concise account
of the system, including a coherent illustration of case-
marking on the classifiers.
3.5 Shakya (1997)
(55)    thala
Aware of the distinction clearly noted in Bhaskararao
and Joshi (1985) between gu and mha on the one hand,
and the other nominal classifiers, on the other, Shakya
(1997) begins his study on Newar classifiers by noting
two categories of classifiers in Newar, which he labels
'general', which refer to gu and mha and 'specific',
referring to the others.
Among the 'specific' classifiers, Shakya lists the
established pu, pa, ga:, gwa, pwa:, phwa: but does not
mention ca: (for rings). Like Bhaskararao and Joshi he
also includes twa.:, used for a section of a long object or
a long, folded object. Shakya also introduces a number
of classifiers not previously discussed in the literature:
thu: for hollow items, dhi for frozen objects, lya: for solid
cylindrical items, gwara for large solid spheres, dim for
solids without a particular shape and dha: for circular
shapes of liquid.
Like the previous studies he lists a number of repeaters
including ho 'hole', pea:, 'hole , gau 'ankle', dho: 'line',
ma: 'garland' ,pu 'bead', WitenT and sa: 'sound'. Shakya
gives the following examples, amongst others (1997:8):
(57)    ho cha-ho
hole        one-CL:HOLE
'one hole'
(58)    ta cha-ia
item one-CL:iTEM
'one item'
Like the previous instances with 'repeaters', my
own consultant tells me the data in (57) and (58) are
ungrammatical with the head noun.
Newah Vijnana-6 Like Bhaskararao and Joshi, Shakya notes that the
classifiers gu and mha can occur with adjectives in non-
count noun phrases. He further notes that without the
corresponding classifier the adjectival noun phrase is
ungrammalical, as shown by the difference in (59) and
(60) below.
(59) haku-mha manu:
black-CL:ANiM      man
'a black man'
(60) *haku manu:
My consultant disagrees with this analysis, however. For
her, (60) is acceptable in the context when discussing
black men in general. When referring to a specific black
man (59) must be used.
Shakya also notes the interesting observation that in
numeral noun phrases containing an adjective the classifier
will be used twice. For example consider (61) and (62).
(61) haku-gu saphu:
black-CL:iNAN book
'three black books'
(62) thike-gu bho
expensive-CL:iNAM    paper
'four expensive papers'
three- cl:inan
Note that the classifier attached to the numeral in both
(61) and (62) is the one expected based on the semantic
properties of each, while gu is affixed to the adjective in
both instances.
Some adjectival noun phrases require both types of
classifiers, even when not in a numeral phrase, as
evidenced by the data below.
'a big book'
big - a.: 2d - cl :in.\n
'a big ball'
'a big man'
When a numeral is used the semantic classifier (as opposed
to mha or gu) is affixed to the numeral as expected. An
example follows below in (66).
(66)     ta-khtf-gu che
bi g-CL: house-cl: inan
'three big houses'
three-cl: house
As Shakya notes, the data in (62-66) serve to cement
the notion that mha and gu differ from the remaining
classifiers, at least in some contexts.
In addition to the above-described environments, classifiers
can be used in genitive noun phrases. Shakya notes that
when the possessor is a pronoun the form is pronoun-
classifier-possessed. According to Shakya, classifiers are
obligatory when the possessed noun is inanimate; thus
both (67) and (68) are allowed, but note that in (69), the
classifier is obligatory (Shakya 1997:15).
(67) john-ya-mha
'John's son'
(68) john-ya
'John's son'
(69) john-ya-gu
'John's house'
When the possessed noun is animate ((58-59) above) or
inalienably possessed ((70-71) below) the classifier is
optional (Shakya 1997:15).
(70)   john-ya-gu
Jolll l-GEN-CL .V.VAV
'John's head'
(71)   john-ya
'John's head'
Newar classifiers are also used when questioning amount
of countable items, as shown in (72-74) below (Shakya
(72) go-ma
'how many plants?'
(73) go-mha
'how many plants?'
(74) go-gu
Hyslop/Newar Classifiers.
37 'how many things
The general classifiers lo which Shakya refers can also
be used as nominalizers, as Bhaskararao and Joshi noted.
Shakya demonstrates how gu and mha can be used to
relativize subjects, direct objects and indirect objects,
which could easily be the topic of an entirely new study.
Shakya's (1997) work, as indicated in the title, focuses on
the syntactic properties of Nevvar classifiers. In doing so
he adds a number of classifiers previously unmenlioned,
and illustrates their distribution outside of quantified
expressions, including genitive NPs. Like the previous
studies, he distinguishes mha and gu from the others in
terms of function. As he has shown, they have syntactic
functions that deviate from the typical classifier
4. Summary and Conclusions
Newar utilizes a classifier system when numerating, or
in other instances when mentioning certain nouns in
adjectival, demonstrative, interrogative or possessive
noun phrases. The system consists of perhaps fifteen
common classifiers that are chosen based on inherent
semantic features of the noun, such as a salient one,
two- or three dimensional nature, being round or flat,
animate, inanimate or plant. In addition, Newar displays
roughly 10 'unique' classifiers, which are reserved for
classifying usually only one or a few unique nouns. In
at least some instances, these classifiers can be replaced
by the classifier reserved for generic inanimate objects,
leading to difference between an abstract and specific
reference. Newar also reports a large set of approximately
25 'repeaters', or nouns which are repeated lo classify
themselves. These are also the least obligatory; some
linguists mention they are optional, and for at least one
speaker they cannot be used, which means in some
instances in Newar there remain nouns which are still not
classified. This could be inferred as evidence the system
is at a point in development in which not all of the nouns
yet have an obligatory classifier. The system seems lo be
at least 700 years old, however, considering the fact that
Dolakha Newar (considered at least 700 years divergent)
also has a system of nominal classification (Genetti
1990). Due to different authors having different analyses,
and my consultant sometimes disagreeing with each, it is
hard to ascertain exact figures for the number and type of
classifiers in Nevvar. This is probably representative of the
fact that classifiers in Newar seem to be a relatively open
system, and as Kathmandu Nevvar is spoken by so many
people, without an established standard, there is bound to
be a great deal of variation. The final point on which I have
nol been able to satisfactorily comment is the presence
or absence of a generic classifier. Most languages with
a numeral classifier system have a 'general' or 'generic'
classifier that can be used in place of other specific
classifiers. While it could seem gu would fit the bill in
Nevvar, not enough research has been conducted on this
Two of the classifiers, gu, for inanimate nouns, and mha,
used for animate nouns, have an extended function. These
have both been show to nominalizerelativize, and can
occur with other classifiers in noun phrases. Perhaps
another way to conceive of these morphemes is as being
polysemous; they could belong to a system of classifiers
on the one hand, and a different system on the other. I
will not explore the nature of this second system, except
to mention it consists of a set of morphemes that can
nominalize/relativize and are found in noun phrases with
other classifiers. DeLancey (ms) mentions these two,
along with/?;", (plural animate) are sometimes described as
marking gender. Indeed this seems a plausible description.
One study, Bhaskararao and Joshi (1985) mention verbal
classifiers, which I have not examined in this paper; they
have different forms than the nominal classifiers.
Because of the extension of numeral classifiers to
genitive, demonstrative, interrogative and adjectival
phrases, Aikhenvald (2000) considers Newar a 'Multiple
Classifier' language typologically Such a use of classifiers
is typical of Southeast Asia (Aikhenvald 2000:211 citing
Goral (1978)). Multiple classifier systems are also found
in languages such as Awara (Papuan), Ignaciano (South
Aravvak). and Kilivila (Austronesian) (Aikhenveld 2000).
What has been difficult to do in this study is tease out the
classifiers from what could be a gender system and a set
of relalivizers. Another area to explore more fully in the
future are the areas where my consultant disagreed with
the analyses posed in the previous studies. Most involved
cases of purported optionality that for my consultant
represented different meanings. Often times, for her, it
seemed classifiers were serving to specify, rather than
address something abstractly or vaguely, and I cannot
help but wonder if this could not be part of the motivation
for the system to spread from numeral expressions to a
wider distribution of noun phrase types.
'I am indebted to Rinku for patiently sharing her language with me, and to Daya Shakya for introducing
me to the Nevvar language and taking time to share
2 The consultant for this study is a female in her late 20s
from Kathmandu, Nepal, but had recently relocated
to Eugene, OR, USA. Nevvar is her mother tongue,
but she also speaks Nepali, Hindi and English.
3 Both are shown with 'bread ball' and 'potato' but only ga
can occur with 'pot' or 'pitcher'. My consultant tells
me this is because while ga can be used with round-
Newah Vijnana-6 ish items, gwa must be used only with items that are
completely round.
"•Assuming my conflation of pwaa and pwaa.
5My consultant tells me that man refers to 'pastry' in the
broad sense of any bakery item made from flour, not
exclusively the sweet ones.
''For my consultant tha has a special meaning of its own;
it refers to a unique location.
' 1 have collapsed what Hale and Shresthaehrya refer to
as two disparate classifiers. They show pwaa with
'crotch of a tree' and 'abscess' while pwa: is used
with 'cat hole". My consultant tells me both simply
referto 'hole' in each context.
'This is not grammatical for my teacher; for her, 'come'
is wala.
'Rather than gwa or phwa, Malla describes go andp/io.
As it is not clear what phonemic value Hale and
Shresthacharya attribute to their choice of symbols, 1 am assuming this difference is solely one of
orthographic convention. This seems to hold true
elsewhere; where Malla has <o>, Hale and Shresthacharya have <wa>
"'In his User's Guide to the Newari Dictionary, Hale defines quasi-classifiers as 'used to count unstructured
units' and 'not overt units of counting' (lo.86:xxxiv).
"The classifier here differs from (27) in regards to length
of the vowel. Because pwA is not explicitly mentioned in the paper, but pwa: is, I assume that this is
either a typo, or that the difference in length in this
instance is not important to the meaning.
'Hlale does not interlinearize either (46) or (47). 1 used
Manandhar's dictionary to find a gloss for laa, which
gave me 'saliva' or 'thick liquid with a shimmering
surface' (1986:225). However, Hale offered water
in his translation of the sentence, thus I glossed la:
as 'liquid' following the dictionary- but kept Hale's
Aikhenvald, .Alexandra Y. 2000. Classifiers: a Typology
of Noun Categorization Devices. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Bhaskararao, Peri and Sunder Krishna Joshi. 1985. A
Study of Newari Classifiers. Bulletin of the Deccan
College Research Institute. 44. 17-31. India: Pune.
Craig, CoIIette. 2000. A Morhposyntaetic Typology
of Classifiers. In Gunter Senft (ed.) Systems of
Nominal Classification. United Kingdom: Cambridge
University Press.
 .1986.  (ed.)  Noun  Classes and Categorization.
Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins
Publishing Company.
 .1986b. Jacaltec Noun Classifiers.
Collette Craig (ed.) Noun Classes
and        Categorization.        United
Kingdom:    Cambridge   University
DeLancev,    Scott.   The    Nevvar   Noun
Phrase. Manuscript. University of Oregon.
Evans, N. 1996. The Syntax and Semantics of Body Part
Incorporation in Mayali. (eds.) M. Harvey and N.
Reid (eds.)  Nominal  Classification  in Aboriginal
Australia. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.105-146.
Genetti, Carol. 1990. Descriptive and Historical Account
of the Dolakha Newar Dialect.  PhD Dissertation.
L'niversity' of Oregon.
Goral, D.R. 1978. Numeral Classifier Systems: ASoutheast
Asian Cross Linguistic Analysis. Linguistics of the
Tibeto-Burman Area 4. 1-72.
Greenberg, Joseph. 1990. On Language: Selected Writings
of Joseph H. Greenberg. K. Denning and S. Kemmer
(eds.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
 -1972.    Numeral    Classifiers    and    Substantival
Number: Problems in the Genesis Type. Working
Papers   in   Language   Universals,    reprinted   in
Greenburg (1990: 16-93)
Hale, Austin. 1986. User's Guide to the Newari Dictionary.
In   Manandar  Newari-English  Dictionary.   Delhi:
Agam Kala Prakashan.
 -1970. Notes on Newari Texts. In Hale, A and K.L.
Pike Tone Systems of Tibeto-Burman Languages of
Nepal. Part 4. Urbana: University of Illinois.
Hale, Austin and Iswaranand Shresthacharya. 1973. Is
Nevvar a classifier language? Journal of the Institute
for Nepal and .Asian Studies. Kathmandu: Tribhuvan
Hargreaves,  David.  2003.   Kathmandu   Newar (Nepal
Bhasa). In Graham Thurgood and Randy J. LaPolla
(eds) The Sino-Tibetan Languages. London and New-
York: Routledge.
lnoue, Kyoko. 2000. Visualizing Ability and Nominal
Classification: evidence of cultural operation in the
agreement rules of Japanese numeral classifiers. In
Gunter Senft (ed.) Systems of Nominal Classification.
United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. 217-
Lowes, Gwendolyn. 2002. Nominal Classification and the
Case of White Hmong. ms.
Malla, Kamal P. 1985. The Newari Language: A working
outline. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages
and Cultures of Asia and Africa.
Payne, Thomas. 1997. Describing Morphosyntax. United
Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Shakya, Daya R. 2000. Family tree of Newar. handout.
 -1997- Classifiers and Their Syntactic Functions
in Nepal Bhasa. Himalayan Research Bulletin. XYII
(1). 1-23. United States: Portland State University.
 -1992. Nominal and Verbal  Morphology in Six
Dialects of Newari. Masters Thesis, l'niversity of
T'sou, Benjamin K. 1976. The structure
of nominal classifier system. In
P. N. Genner et al eds., Austroasiatic
studies. Honolulu: University        of
Hawaii Press. Part II: 1215-47.
Yidal,   A.    1997.    Noun   Classification    in
Pilaga: Guaykuruan. Journal of Amazonian
Languages 1. 60-111.
Hyslop/Newar Classifiers.
39 Appendix A: Newar Classifiers
manu 'person', bhutu 'woman
sain 'matchbox', culya 'elbow'
thala 'pot', bhegaa 'earthen pot'
laddu 'laddu (bread ball)', alu
saphu 'book', culya 'bracelet'
PAIRS (when counted
tuli 'leg',  'shoes'
kii 'bamboo nail', wa 'Otooth'
bu 'blossom', swSS
ghaa 'millstone'
la short path', st 'piece of
pwaa, ho
Newah Vijnana-6 pu
che 'house'
ghaa 'wound'
mari 'pastry'
puja 'worship'
bala 'arrow'
cupi 'dagger'
mala 'garland'
mata 'lamp'
masi'female genital'
lufcha 'door'
Hyslop/Newar Classifiers.
41 Taboo Words and
Expressions in
Newar Language
Tej R. Kansakar
Tribhuvan University np
1. Introduction
Taboo words and expressions in the Nevvar language
reflect the values and belief systems rooted in the social
and cultural practices of the Nevvar people. The taboo
words in this sense serve a conventional purpose in
speech and writing, and are characterized by many fixed
forms known as prefabricated or formulaic language with
specific or implied meanings. This paper seeks to discover
the social, religious and psychological bases for the uses
of such taboo expressions and attempts to classify them
in a wider contextual framework, including the semantic
bleaching of taboo words in changing social conditions.
The two sets of examples given below distinguish between
linguistic taboos and assumptions or unfounded beliefs
commonly known as superstitions.
(1) na-ye ma-jyu 'prohibited to eat'
eal-Inf      Neg-pcrmit
The eating of meat or egg during the mourning
period is prohibited.
(2) nhya-ye     ma-tya: 'forbidden to wear'
wear-Inf   Neg-forbid
It is forbidden to ■wear leather shoes or belt
inside the temple or during worship.
(3) wan-e        ma-jyu 'prohibited to go'
go-Inf       Neg-prohibit
ll is inauspicious to leave for a foreign country
on a Saturday or Tuesday.
(4) kan-e ma-tya: forbidden to tell'
tell-Inf      Neg-forbid
ll is forbidden lo tell Ihe M'ords of a secret
mantra to others.
2. Taboo and Superstition
The examples (1 —Y) all contain verb phrases where
the taboo meanings are expressed by the negativized
auxiliaries ma-jyu and ma-tya:. I am however assuming
that (1) and (2) are taboo expressions while (3) and (4) are
based on superstitious beliefs. Admittedly, it is difficult
to make a clear-cut distinction between the two belief
systems. Where does taboo end and superstition begin? It
is said that superstition begins when understanding ends,
and in our examples the actions disallowed by social or
religious norms are taboos while superstitions clearly
imply psychological barriers that defy logical reason.
Some may also take the view that taboo and superstition
do overlap and they may well be right. I would like in
this connection to cite two instances from my personal
experiences relating to inauspicious day of departure for
a foreign country, and the strict code of silence on the
secret mantras.
Z.I This incident look place prior to my departure for
England in 1967 on a. British Council scholarship.
My parents were horrified to learn that I was to leave
for that far away 'Bilaayaf country on a Saturday.
This to them was a highly inauspicious day to
undertake such a long journey and asked me to try
and change the date. Since my airline booking and
oilier travel arrangements had been made well in
advance and I was supposed to reach London in time
for an orientation course, I was reluctant to request
the British Council to re-schedule my flight. Wlien I
confronted my father with a negative reply, he came
up with an ingenous solution. He suggested that the
leave-taking ritual should take place before sunrise
on Saturday morning, then walk with my luggage lo
a relative's house near-by and wail there till it was
time for me to leave for the airport.   I interpreted
Newah Vijhana-6 this arrangement to imply that sunrise marks the
beginning of a new day and my leave-taking from
home actually look place on Friday, and to leave for
the airport from another house on a Saturday was no
longer inauspicious. I of course did not insist to my
father that Samrday really began after midnight for
fear of missing my flight to London.
L.L The circumstances described here relates to the
socio-religious convention derived from Tantric
Buddhism. The coming-of-age ceremony called
Kaeiaa-pujaa in Newar or Bratabandha in Sanskrit
is a ritual for boys, and Baarae-laegu ritual for girls.
Following these elaborate rituals, the family priest
(Vajracarya or Shakya among the Buddhist Newars)
officiate in another tantric ritual to pass on a secret
'mantra' (a brief prayer or incantation) which is
whispered to Ihe ear of each young man and woman.
We were required lo memorize the mantra and recite
it silently as a form of prayer or meditation every
morning before breakfast, ll is strictly forbidden to
communicate the content of this mantra to anyone
else within or outside the family. A warning is
given thai dire consequences will follow should
anyone reveal the contents of the secret mantra
which perhaps was in Pali or Sanskrit and I failed
lo understand a single word of its short text. It is
not known whether the mantra differs between males
and females. No one has dared to check this out even
today when many young people do not recite the
mantra anymore. 1 too do not remember the mantra
as I have not used it for many years. Obviously there
is no harm in forgetting it, and I am at least free of
the risk of verbalizing the magic words to others
either deliberately or inadvertantly. The Japanese
anthropologist Professor Hiroshi Ishii was aware of
this practice, and when 1 was in Tokyo he asked me
aboul the words in the mantra. I told him that I had
completely forgotten them, but I doubt if he really
believed me.
1.6 Another tantric ritual for a select group of older men
and women known as dekhaa biye-gu is conducted
by a learn of elderly Vajracarya priests. All non-
participants are excluded from this ritual which a
very elaborate function is lasting the whole day. I
have not undergone litis ritual practice but I am told
thai it involves tantric worship, prayers, meditation
and discourses on ways to attain physical well
being, intellectual strength and spiritual knowledge.
As far as I know, no written texts are available on
the dekhaa bi:-gu ritual as Ihey still form a part of
taboo language, a closely guarded secret discourse
not accessible lo the general public.    1 am fairly
certain that the Vajracarya priests do retain sacred
documents that are strictly laboo to laymen.
3.   Classification
of       Taboo
3.1 Taboo on the use of personal names
(1) Prohibition of Deceased Person's
A dead person is normally referred to as diba-gata
ju-mha 'one who has passed aM'ay' or ma-du-mha
'one who is no more' especially in the presence of
the deceased person's ralatives. Naming the person
is either impolite or redundant as the context would
clarify which person is referred to. This practice,
in oilier words, is meant to show respect to the dead
person as well as to his I her next of kin. This is a
prohibition common to many communities in South
Asia and oilier parts of the world.
(2) Prohibition Against the Use of Husband's
or Father-in-law's Name:
This practice is also very common among most
ethnic groups in Nepal. A wife would normally refer
to her husband as mija-mha 'ihe man of the house'.
abu-mha 'one who is the father'or if there is a grand
child as baajyaa-mha 'one who is a grandfather'.
The husband loo does not normally call his wife by
her name but as misaa-mha 'woman of the house',
maa-mha 'one who is a mother' or aji-mha 'one
who is a grandmother'. A wife when calling her
husband also uses the son's or daughter's name to
gel his attention. These forms of address are known
as 'teknonyms' < 'tekiionyiny'.
(3) Prohibition in the Use of Older Person's
It is considered impolite or inappropriate to use the
name of a person who is older than the speaker. The
speaker in this case refers to the man or woman as
thaakali 'the head of house or guthi organization, and
to the woman as nakT:~ 'Ihe wife of Ihe head person I
eldest woman of the house'. Any other person older
than the speaker is normally referred to. for example,
as Purna-yaa. kakaa 'Puma's younger uncle' or
Timilaa-yaa ta:dhi paaju  'wife's elder brother'etc.
Kansakar/Taboo Words and...
43 (4) Avoidance of Names in kin Relations :
The names of elder brother-in-law or sister-in-law
have restrictive uses. They can be used only as
reference but not as forms of address. For example,
my two daughters-in-law refer to my eldest son as
'elder brother Deepak' in conversations among
themselves : Deepak-dai ma-jlta-ni 'Elder brother
Deepak has not come (lion) yet': but drop the name
when addressing him directly : dai-yata jyana- ta-e
la ? 'Elder brotlier, shall I serve you lunch?'.
(5) Taboo On the Use of One's Secret
All Newars have secret names recorded in the
horoscope which the astrologer determines as
appropriate according to Ihe time of birth. This
name cannot be revealed lo anyone and is kept secret
throughout one's life. This belief is apparently an
influence of Hindu culture which believes that to
know the secret name of someone is to have control
over the person. The horoscope document itself is
not copied or given out lo others except in ihe case of
a prospective bride in a. marriage proposal where Ihe
two horoscopes need lo be matched..
(6) Prohibition On Use of King's Name as
Personal Name:
The king of Nepal is revered as tlie incarnation of
God Narayan or Vishnu, and the taboo against the
use of Ihe Royal name by a commoner obviously has
a religious motive, and also dictated by the upper
ruling class. Today however, this restriction has
broken down completely as we do find people with
names such as Mahendra Ratna, Tribhuvan Dhar.
Birendra Shakya. Dipendra Maharjan. Gyanendra
Tuladhar etc.
(7) Taboo Against Use of Names of Deities:
In the past a person could not be named after a deity
worshipped by the family or the whole community,
ll was considered a. sacrilege or a blasphemous
act to use the sacred names of the deities. Today
many people adopt the names of Hindu gods and
goddesses like Ram. Krishna, Vishnu. Saraswati
etc, or be named after Buddhist divinities such as
Buddha Saymi. Tara Devi. Manjushree. Dharma
Bahadur, Sanga Ratna etc. Pramodini (2004: 97)
makes an interesting observation that "the use of Ihe
deity names is simply a mark of their self-identity.
They simply use the names of deities as names, either
ignoring or without knowing the older socio-cultural
values and beliefs. Old people still aware of the older
prohibitions often comment that members of the
younger generations want to turn the world upside
down". A point of parallel interest can still be seen
in many Newar communities today which continue
the practice of ancestral worship as mark of socio-
cultural identity. The names of deified ancestors
lend lo be handed down to succeeding generations
without social or moral stigma.
(8) Avoidance of Using Fruit or Flower
Names as Personal Names:
ll was generally believed by the older generation that
a person with Ihe name of a fruit or flower is likely
lo have a life span as short as the fruit or flower
itself. This belief loo has broken down completely,
and it is fairly common for some Newars today to
be named after fruits and flowers such as gulaaph
'rose', campaa jasmine', paleswaan 'lotus', angur
'grapes', anaar 'pomegranate', mewa 'papaya',
musum  'citrusfruit', ambah  'gooseberry'etc.
3.2 The Use of Euphemisms
Some common uses of euphemisms have been
cited above in connection with indirect references
to deceased persons, elderly family members and
various in-law kin relations. We saw that in each
of these cases the direct uses of personal names are
prohibited and speakers devise certain euphemistic
expressions to communicate with each other. One
common example is to say wan-a. 'has gone' or
mania 'is no more' to refer to a person who has
passed away, and this to my thinking is a universal
tendency to disguise or soften the painful memory of
a person's death. We thus choose to use non-taboo
words to replace the tabooed words or expressions.
Bloomfield (1935 / 1985: 401) in this connection
remarks that "the problem with euphemisms is
that in time euphemisms themselves gradually
become strongly associated with the taboo and thus
become taboo themselves". The old Newar words
for dangerous diseases like cholera and typhoid are
Ihoka-phaka and haku-jwar, but people tend to
use borrowed words like liaija or jhada-banta for
cholera and periphrastic expressions like taco-gu
jwar 'a serious fever' for typhoid. As a result, the
original Newar words are no longer used today and
the alternative words and expressions have acquired
taboo connotations. The following Table 1 provides
some examples of euphemisms frequently used by
Newah Vijnana-6 Table 1 :
Newar Euphemisms and their
1. sit-a
is no more
2. khu
lha tahaka-mha
one who has long aim
3. nae-dya:
greedy- person
mlititu tapwa-mha
one with a large mouth
4. phatta
habitual liar
ni pwa nihutu du-mha
one who has two mouths
5. wa6
mad mail
hawa sya-mha
one whose air is spoilt
6. naga:tugah
the ears to be burning hot
(from listening to criticisms
7. lucca
rascal   cheater
jhanga lai-mlia
one who catches a bird
8. ka:mi
mliutu ka:mi
a talkative person
9. phatta
a wind-bell
10. alsyi
tuti ma-du-mha
one who has no leg
Nevvar speakers.
Euphemisms are also known as semi-taboo words
which are used to avoid embarrassment, offence or
even anger in listeners. The speaker thus deliberately
chooses not to use the taboo words or expressions to
show respect and politeness in formal social discourse.
There are also several euphemisms connected with
sex. For example, the male and female sexual organs
are known as mija co phae-gu 'male urinator' and
misa co phae-gu 'female urinator', whereas sexual
union is euphemistically referred to as lhapu-kwapu
'the act of one body above the other'. The monthly
menstruation in a woman is also regarded as an
unclean period when she is referred to as ihi: ma-
ji -gu 'to become untouchable'. This implies that a
woman during her menses is forbidden to worship any
deity-, to eat together with other family members and
to sleep with her husband. Among some non-Newar
communities in Nepal, the ordeal of prohibition
during the menstrual period is much more severe,
when women are forbidden to enter the house and
are required to eat and sleep in a separate shelter
or cow-shed away from the family's kitchen and
living quarters. This discriminating practice known
as chaupadi is widely prevalent in the Far-West
and Mid-Western regions and also in the Mahottari
district in the Central region of the country A recent
news report described how the unclean period is also
obstructing the normal school education of girls in the
western districts of Nepal. The following constitute
the gist of the report: "Girls living in various villages
of Palpa district are not allowed to touch their
textbooks during menstruation period, let alone go
to school. People living in Koldanda and Kodhadi
YDCs hold the belief that girls commit a grave sin
if they touch books during menstruation. They also
regard it as sin if such girls happen to touch others".
[The Kathmandu Post, November 5, 2005J Such
prohibitions seem to be deeply engrained among
many marginalized communities in the country.
The influence of such linguistic and social taboos has
given rise to other related taboos. Thus a pregnant
woman is called pwatha-e du-mha 'one with (a
child) in her stomach' although there is a word for
'womb' in Newar called maca che 'the house of
the (unborn) child'. A married woman who has an
adulterous relationship with another man is giv en the
infamous name of lyewa-tini or lyewa-singh 'one
who associates with a paramour'. If, on the other
hand, a man marries a woman outside his caste
(especially from a lower caste) the wife is socially
ostracized as ma-thya-mha 'the one who is excluded'
where the woman is excluded from certain social
or religious activities such as guthi functions and
feasts, or prohibited from entering the secret shrine
of family deity (known as agamd) and to participate
in its ritual worship. In case she is a co-wife of her
husband, her status in the family is much lower to the
first wife and is generally referred to as ma-thya-mha
lilhu 'an excluded second wife'.
4. Taboos in a Process of Change
Although many of the taboos described above are still
maintained, there is evidence that a number of them are
no longer strictly enforced, as indicated above in a few-
cases. The process of breakdown in the use of some
taboo words and expressions can also be seen despite the
embarrassment and offence still caused bv direct uses of
Kansakar/Taboo Words.and....
45 such words in certain social contexts. There are obviously-
several factors that have contributed to gradual changes in
the direct uses of taboos together with their linguistic and
implied meanings. Some of the most prominent factors in
this process can be cited as follows:
(7) Spread
of    Education    and    External
The spread of education and external contacts have
certainly brought about a good deal of change in the
decline of taboo language and belief in supersititions.
Many well educated couples now tend to live in
nuclear families where husband and wife have begun
lo call or address each other by their first names.
The use of teknonyms as a result is minimal in such
families. Good education and training at home or
abroad have also brought affluence from well-paid
jobs, leading lo a near-total loss of the traditional
outlook. The younger generation in the Newar
society today is also witnessing a growing number of
inter-caste marriages which have naturally prompted
many couples to question the social and religious
discriminations against such marriages. Although
some Newar communities continue to exclude low-
caste wives, a progressive movement has emerged
to advocate a more tolerant view on the matter.
Mentions have been made above about the complete
breakdown in the taboos relating to the uses of names
after the royalties and deities, and more lenient
attitude to social conventions and ritual practices.
It must however be noted thai the elder generation
of Newars still maintain strict codes of conduct in
matters of cultural and religious traditions. This is
reflected in the retention of many taboo words as a
part of their belief systems.
(2) Influence of Euphemistic Expressions :
The use of euphemisms represents a shift in language
use to make taboo words more palatable and
acceptable to listeners without altering their inherent
meanings. Taboo and euphemism in this sense are
'two sides of the same coin', and Ihe
periphrastic device of euphemisms
has   tended   to   generalize   certain
details of meaning by the omission of key words and
the use of borrowed svords. For example, the case
of a woman during Iter menses is given a general
meaning of 'one wlto becomes untouchable' which,
aliliough not specific, conveys Ihe intended meaning
without any ambiguity.
(3) Use of Borrowed Words :
The many taboo words related to sex or their
euphemistic equivalents are generally avoided,
and most educated people today tend to use words
from languages like Nepali or English instead of the
native words. The words related to sexual relations
and pregnancy (maca pwaiha-e da-ye), abortion
(maca ko-ka-ye). or birth of an illegitimate child
(lewa maca) are often expressed in foreign words as
ihe native words sound quite vulgar and impolite.
5. Conclusion
The use of taboo language is subject to change along with
changes in social and cultural conventions. Taboos may
have originated from superstitious beliefs based on fear,
ignorance and insecurity. Today the taboo expressions
that have evolved and survived reflect a sense of social
decency or etiquette rather than the fear of adverse
consequences. Promodini (2004: 108) rightly points
out that "inhibition, rather than prohibition, is the key
to understanding the very intricate nature of the verbal
restrictions of modern times". The present-day taboos
therefore are matters of proper communication through
use of appropriate language to maintain social harmony
and understanding. In the final analysis, taboos in Newar
are by no means obsolete but remain an integral part of
its socio-cultural life. This view would warrant further
investigations on verbal taboos in other languages and
societies of Nepal.
Bloomfield, L.  1935, Reprinted 1985.  Language.  Delhi:
Motilal Banarasidas.
Mehrotra, R.R.    1977.    Sociology of Secret Languages.
Simla : Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
Promodini, N. 2004. "Taboo in Meiteiron".
Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 27:
1, 89-110.
Newah Vijnana-6 Kumari in
Newar Culture
Dr. Chunda Bajracharya
Department of Nepal Bhasha
Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
1. Introduction:
Celebrating the Kumari tradition in Nepalese community
is the worship of a virgin girl that had been actively
instituted from the ancient period. Traditionally, anywhere
from one girl to thousands of virgin girls are invited lo
be worshipped as part of Kumari Puja,' a kind of ritual
dedicated to virgin girls. Kumari is presented as unique
feature of Newar culture of Nepal, and most westerners
know the "living goddess of Nepal'. In Newar culture, a
virgin girl is shown to have a sense of purity, calmness,
truth, reality and many other good characteristics. Hence,
it is believed that such type of virgin girl symbolizes the
divine entity in human society. The Mahayana Buddhists
accept Kumari as the sacred image of Vajradevi in human
form and Hindu tradition sees her
as the superior goddess 'Taleju
The goal of this paper is to present
a discussion on how the tradition
of Kumari is maintained and how
the tradition can be amended in the
modem context of belief.
2. Evolution of
2.1 Kumari as a Puddle Hole:
The Kumari is prevalent
throughout Newar towns and
localities as a site of protective
force. Her shrine is represented by a
relatively large egg-shaped formless idol that is installed
in a rectangular puddle below ground level. It is assumed
that the tradition of Kumari was actually started with the
installation of formless idols during the early periods.
One such installation of formless idol is discussed in an
essay by Thakur Lal Manandhar (NS 1104/I984 AD),
which describes the adoption of installing linage shrine,
the 'Digu Dyah', during ancient limes. It is assumed that
the locality of these idols in puddles indicates a Newar
settlement. In later periods, these puddle holes began to
be decorated with girl-faced images. One such example
is at Balkumari in Kathmandu where there is a shrine
installed in the streets near Ason. More discoveries
of Kumari shrines w-ere made in various locations
throughout Kathmandu such as Khichapokhari, at Shanti
Nikunja High School compound, in an old office of
Kamana Publication in Chikan Mugal area and al Kumari
Gala. Not only Kathmandu, but Kumari shrines vvere also
discovered at Balkumari in Patan and in various places
in Thimi and Bhaktapur as well.
Furthermore, the Chandeswari shrine
of Banepa in Kavre district is also
known as the Kumari temple.
2.2. Kumari as a 'Kosima' tree
A nother ph y si eal representati on of the
divinity of Kumari is the Kosima (oak
tree), Newars worship it believing
that the spirit of Kumari lands at the
bottom of the tree. Eventually- the
tree itself is considered as the divine
symbol of the Kumari and therefore
it is forbidden to cut down such holy
tree. When the growth of the Kosima
tree is identified. Newars do not plant
anything in Ihe surrounding areas
believing that theKumari may visit theplaee for amusement
with friends. Such Ideations are acknowledged throughout
various localities in Kathmandu, A unique special feature
of Kosima tree is stretching of its underground roots. It
Bajracharya/ Kumari in Newar Culture
47 is believed that these stretched roots protect the land and
sometimes a small amount of water cumulates around this
tree creating a miniature pond. It is upon this pond where
a water fountain, called hiti, is built. A wonderful example
of the divine Kosima tree is at Gahiti (a fountain below the
ground level) in Hanuman Dhoka Palace in Kathmandu
Durvvar Square and also at the Budhanilkanlha shrine.
In ancient times, an irrigation system kept Kosima tree
vibrant at Budhanilkanlha shrine, however urbanization
and modern housing development has caused the water
surrounding the shrine to become dehydrated.
2.4. Place of Kumari in Dyah Pyakha
The symbol of Kumari can also be found in various Newar
dance dramas where she holds a special role. Harsiddihi in
Kathmandu is home to many dyah pyakha (dance of gods
and goddesses), which is also one of the oldest pyakha
(dance) in Nepalese tradition. Prem Bahadur Kansakar
(NS 1084- 1974AD) mentions that the Nepal's Harisiddhi
pyakha can be traced back to Kali gat 2060 about 150 years
BC. One such dance is the Jala Pyakha which, according
to Linda litis (NS 1110 1990), originated around the
Bikram calendar as a literary drama. Jala Pyakha is still
practiced today and it still continues its tradition of being
staged once in every twelve years in all three cities of
the Kathmandu Valley. In Jala Pyakha, the Kumari plays
the central character in this dance drama, which is also
known as Kaumari.
One of the festivals where one can witness a Kumari
dance drama is during Yen Yah (Indra Jatra). Halchowk
Sawabhaku dance is one of these dance dramas which is
presented by three dancers, upon which Kumari plays
one of the characters. In addition, once in every twelve
years the Halchowk Sawabhaku dance transforms into
a grand gala. During this time, the small dance drama
becomes a big extravaganza with dancers performing
as many as twelve different deities in which the Kumari
plays the main role. Another dance drama performed at
the Indra Jatra festival is the Dee Pyakha or Devi Pyakha.
According to Kashi Nath Tamot (NS 1101 1981AD), Dee
Pyakha tradition originated during the Lichhavi period. A
well-known dramatist, Vijaya Malla (NS 1112.1992AD),
is famous for having written many creative dramas. Based
on Dee Pyakha. he wrote and modernized many of the
old Kumari dramas. In one of his drama, Kumari, with
her shakti power, triumphed over Daitya 'Devil' which
secured her virginity and kept the philosophy of Kumari
tradition alive.
In any kind of high degree of puja organized from birth
to death by Buddhists, the place for Kumari is very-
important. The tradition of honoring a virgin girl as
Kumari has been common among the Newar Buddhists
of Nepal. Mary Slusser (NS1102,1982) indicates that in
Nepalese Mahayana Buddhist tradition of worshiping of a
v irgin girl was already started in the 13th century.
It is in the 13"1 century that the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition
was established in the Vajrayogini shrine of Sako. One can
consider the sacred bahas and bahis (Newar monatsties)
of Kathmandu Valley as a source of Vajrayana Tradition
in Nepal, Any kind of religious function is conducted
first through the baha and bahi located throughout the
Kathmandu Valley-. The process of attaining to enter the
baha or bahi and any Vajrayana related religious activities
is through Cudakarma (initiation) ceremony. Without
instituting the baliS and bahi, the sense of Vajradevi
cannot be identified. It is in this Vajrayana Buddhist
tradition that Kumari plays a very significant role. Hence,
Newars Buddhists believe that Kumari is the human form
of Vajradevi.
4. Origins of Kumari
3. Kumari and Mahayana
Buddhist Tradition
On the basis of hand-written manuscript found in Keshar
library, Bhuwan I^al Pradhan (NS 1113/ 199 BS 2049)
mentions the selection of Kumari from Shakya girls
(Gorkhapatra 2048 Ashoj 5 1991 AD) in 13th century. It
can be assumed that the tradition of selection of Kumari
among the Buddhists of Nepal must have already been
established before the 13,h century. Although there is no
historical date of when Vajracharaya family gained control
in the selection process of the Kumari, this family played
a significant role in choosing the Kumari at the Kwabaha
and Mabaha, monasteries in Kathmandu.
Even though the Kumari remains significant in the Nevvar
culture, at the Kwabaha and Mabaha (monasteries in
Kathmandu), the tradition of selecting the Kumari from
Vajracharya family was discontinued approximately
twenty-two years ago. The worldwide famous Kumari of
present day is the Laeku (Royal) Kumari, who is chosen
amongst the Shakya family. One can still visit Kwabaha
and Mabaha as it once held the divine Kumari. In modern
days, Kumari is still considered highly respectable in
terms of their intuitional power. When the Laeku Kumari
becomes sick, the care-takers offer a puja to the Mabaha
Kumari. If that does not help, they offer another puja to
Kwabaha Kuman. This proves that the tradition of Laeku
Kumari is much newer than the tradition of Mabalia and
Kwabaha Kumari.
Moreov er, in the 13"1 century, a hand written manuscript
named Tribhumik Vidhya Peeth Pratislha, the method of
Newah Vijnana-6 puja is mentioned in a section of Kumari. In that section,
it is mentioned that the Kumari should be given a bathe,
comb hair; smear mascara and aromatic sandalwood paste
in forehead and decorate with ornaments. This tradition
of beautification is still followed for the Kumaris until
4.1 Khwapaf Bhaktapur) Kumari
In NS 444, Gaya Suddhin Mohamad of Simraun Gad
attacked Karnatak. Fearing his life, the king, King Hari
Singh Deva, fled to his in-law's house in Bhaktapur.
During his escape, King Hari Singh Deva managed to bring
along a scared emblem, sreeyantra, of Taleju B haw aid or
Taleju to Bhaktapur. (Source:Tya-Matya text preserved
in Asha Archives). In later periods, during the period of
Devala Devi and Raj Malla Deva, this sreeyantra was
installed in a shrine and later became known as Duimaju
devi or Taleju shrine in Bhaktapur. Afterwards, in NS
737, King Jagarjvvoti Malla visited this shrine of Taleju
and communicated with the divine spirit on a regular
basis. One day, the spirit of Taleju was not present for
their regular conversation and a suspicion grew inside the
king. However, King Jagarjvvoti Malla later had a dream
in which Taleju lold him IhaV \\ he starts to select a virgin
girl from Shakya family to be worshipped as Kumari, she
will resume their communication (Shrestha NS1121).
Since then, the Kumari became the human equivalent of
the divine spirit of Taleju and since then the Kumari was
selected amongst the Shakya family-.
4.2 Yen (Kantipur) Laeku Kumari:
When King Hari Singh Deva brought the sreeyantra
of Taleju to Bhaktapur, it had a profound impact on
Ratna Malla, the son of Yatshya Malla. When Ratna
Malla started to rule the Kantipur region, he brought
this concept of sreeyantra of Taleju from Bhaktapur to
Kantipur as the lineage deity of his family in NS 612
and later King Mahendra Malla erected a shrine for the
Taleju Bhawani. Like King Jagarjvvoti Malla, King A mar
Malla brought a replica of Taleju to his palace compound
and he too communicated the divine spirit. But, one day-
King Alalia's daughter discovered that her father was
secretly communicating with the Taleju. From then on the
communication ended between the divine spirit and the
king. However, she will invoke a virgin girl from a Shakya
family and thus they can resume their communication.
Since then, the selection of Kumari is continued from the
Shakya family (Shrestha:NS 1121) in Kantipur.
4.3 Yala (Patan) Kumari:
King Siddhi Narsingh Malla Like the previous King of
Bhaktapur and Kantipur, King Siddhi Narsingh Malla
also had secret conversations with the divine Taleju. But
in his case, the secret was discovered by his wife and the
Taleju told him that she is going to be born in Dhusah
family as Kumari. The King Siddhi Narsingh Malla was
to select a virgin girl from Dhusah family to establish the
Kumari and worship her divine spirit. In later period, the
tradition of the Kumari tradition was passed down to the
Vajracharya family and to this day, the Kumari is selected
from Vajracharya family in Yala region (Shrestha NS
4.4 Kumari in Various Castes:
Jayasthiti A Ma uas a Hindu king and historical evidence
shows that an institute of Kumari was available in each
caste group even before his imposition of caste system.
Thus, we can predict that the Kumari was chosen from
each of the Brahaman, Chhetri, Vaisya and Sudra group
before the Malla period. Eventually, Brahaman Kumari
became considered from a Vajracharya family, Chetri
Kumari from Shakya family, Vaisya Kumari from Jvapuni
family and Sudra Kumari from Dhobi or Dyala family.
But this concept of Kumari from various castes is no
longer practiced in later period; however the mention of
existence of Kumari from various castes is noted in the
Rudra Mala Yantra (Tantra).
"Nam kapalani vaisyarjani napitangmatha
Brahamani kanyas gudrancha talha gopala
kanyaka Malakarasya kanacha. nawa kanya
prakarlita "
(Source: Kumari NS 1121:62)
In the above text, the institute of Kumari in Gopala
dynasty is also mentioned. Even these days, there is
a tradition of arranging two right and left seats for the
Kumari or virgin girls during the festivals of Maha
Laxmi. Bhairava. Ganesh and Adi Narayana. During
the ceremony performed to worship the Bhairava, virgin
girls are invited to perform the ihi puja. Also during
the Bhairava puja. the host desires to fulfill four wishes
consisting of Siddhi, Yasa, Dhana and Birth of Son. The
four wishes are represented by the four Kumaris that
are invited from four different ideal castes. These castes
consist of Brahman Kumari for Manoratlia or Siddhi,
Chhetri Kumari for Yasa, Vaisyha Kumari for Dhana..
Sudra Kumari for Birth of Son. (Sharma: Kumari 1121:
79) In Nevvar tradition, existence of Kumari from various
castes installed as virgin goddess in Yen. Yala. Khowapa
and Bung a is as follows:
In Yala, the Taleju  Bhawani  was  established by
Yen Laeku Kumari
Ma baha Kumari
Bajracharya/ Kumari in Newar Culture
49 Kwa. baha Kumari
Tana Baha Kumari
Kilaga kumari
Cokache Galli Kumari
Cabahil Kumari
Yala Laeku Kumari
Khwopa Laeku Kumari
Bunga Kumari
5. Kumari and Religious Harmony
The Kumari is considered to bring religious harmony
amongst the Hindus and Buddhists of Nepal and both
sector of Hindu and Buddhist tradition worship Kumari
as deity of protection. The tradition of daily puja is
performed according to both Hindu and Buddhist rituals.
Presence of Pancha Buddha in procession of Kumari
chariot during the Indra Jatra. which is considered to be
a Hindu festival, indicates this harmonic relationship with
both Hindu and Buddhist tradition of Nepal.
Both Hindu and Buddhist tradition recognizably worship
Kumari as the tantrik diety as Taleju and Vajradevi
respectively. According to tantra saslra. the age of
Kumari is divided into three as follows:
a. 1 -- 12 years
b. 12 -- 16 years
c. 16 — old age
During the period of age group (b) Kumari may evoke as
various forms of deities.
It is mentioned in the text titled 'Tribhumik Btdhyapilh
Pralislha Vidi' from 13th century that when a Kumari
Puja is performed, each and every part of the body is
worshipped as a place of deity.
Even these days, the tradition of setting pancha kanya. is
observed for good luck in receiving the guests in welcome
ceremonies. The pancha kanya represents Tara. Laxmi.
Saraswali, Bhagavati and Maha Laxmi. All of them are
considered as the shakti of each deity. The Basundhara
is also worshipped as the Kumari on the day of Bhadra
Krishna Tritiya. Among the three faces of Basundhara
only one of it is honored as the Kumari.
Kumari is worshipped for siddhiprapli (acquiring skill),
rog  nash   (eradication  of epidemic),  aiswarya prapli
(spiritual fame), moklshya prapti (Liberation), smridhi
shall (intellectuality), shakti pratik (symbol of power),
eliminating unwanted activities, and as protector of the
6. Selection Process of Kumari
6.1 Kathmandu Royal Kumari
In the selection process of choosing the Royal Kumari
in Kathmandu, there are few requirements that must
be met. First, the parent's marriage should have been
arranged within the one of the eighteen Malta Viliars.
The candidate's horoscope must also match with current
King's horoscope. There is a horse that is kept at Hanuman
Dhoka that belongs to Kumari. The auspicious time of
the horse's birth and soon-to-be Kumari must also be
matched. When it becomes time to replace the Kumari,
the caretakers of present Kumari is sent to all 18 Maha
Vihars. A call is made to interested parents to bring their
daughters to be installed as Kumari. The royal astrologer's
wife then inspects all the girls that brought in. The royal
priest's wife examines the scars in the candidate's body,
looking for any birthmark and such. Then the horoscope
of the girl is sent to the palace for the king to decide on the
ideal candidate. Once a girl is selected, she is placed in the
sacred agam chen (sacred house) to perform the midnight
ritual ceremony during the Mohani festival.
6.2. Selection of Kumari in Bhaktapur
The selection of Kumari in Bhaktapur is rather very-
simple. A flower from Ekanla first touches the candidate's
head, and then the flower is placed in an isolated place at
the candidate's house for four days. If the girl does not
show any symptoms of illness then she is eligible to be
6.3. Selection of Kumari in Lalitpur:
When it becomes time for selecting the Kumari, a
messenger is sent to all 15 Malta Vihars announcing for
the parents to bring their daughters to Ralnakar Malta
Vihar. The royal priest's wife then examines the body
for scars on each girl. Then the royal priests examine the
horoscope of each candidate and the best horoscope is
then recommended for selection.
7. Kantipur Royal Kumari as
Symbol of Social Unity
When Prithvi Narayan Shaha, a Gorkha king, invaded the
Newah Vijnana-6 Kathmandu Valley, the Malla king. King Java Prakash
escaped from nearly being imprisoned His escape
put Kumari tradition in jeopardy, however King Shah
promised to keep the Kumari tradition alive and later he
became king of Nepal Mandala. Since then, the Shah
Kings still honor the Kumari with respect and great
devotion by declaring a government holiday.
8. Exit Rules for Kumari
A Kumari does not have the same liberties to freely go
out from her house. However, there are some occasions
where the Kumari is allowed lo go out of her house for
entertainment and social activities.
8.1 Exit Rules for Royal Kumari
Place and/or Time
Chaita Dashain
Mu Chuuka Agam in
Hanuman Dhokha
Janamahadyo Jatra
Lagan Area on the day
of Pulling the Chariot
Jana Bahal on day of
Paush Sukla Asiami
Changu Narayana
On the day of Paukhs
Sukla Poornima
Dathu Soya
On day of Saparu
to visit bahi dyo for
Pachali Bhairab
Aswin Sukla Panchami
in Laykuu
Ghoda Jatra
Tinkhyah near RNAC
Kalratri Nawami for
Kaal Ralri Pooja
Mis a Samyak
Every twelve years on
the next day of main
Samyak   festival.
In Kantipur, the Ma Baha, Kwabaha Kumari and Jyapu
Kumaris are allowed to go out lo attend (he special rare
pujas organized by private party such as Acha Guthi,
Sinha Puja and Chatis Samarth etc..
8.2 Exit Rules for Lalitpur Kumari
Bunga Dyo Nhawan
(Ceremony for Bath)
Ijgan Kfhel
Puchwo Gabaha
On the day of Pulling
LagankhebKamari Pati
Bhoto Jatra
Inside Taleju area
Place and/or Time
8.3 Exit Rule for Bhaktapur Kumari
Bhaktapur Kumari  is  allowed to leave her home at
anytime if she is invited. On the Day of Magh 11, 2059
BS (2002AD) Lila Bhakta Munakarmi invited Kumari as
chief guest for debut of his book 'Taleju Bhawani Kothd
Puja wa Parva Puja Vidhi'.
9. Divine Power ( Daibiya Sakti)
of Kumari
One has to believe in the celestial power of Kumari
in order to see the heavenly spirit within the Kumari,
something the non-believers fail to see. Rewards, in a
form blessing of divine spirituality, are given to those
who worship Kumari as a goddess. I Ier divinity is evident
in the following factual testimony and events thai reveal
Kumari as source of daibiya sakti.
1. /; is believed that when Kumari becomes ill,
the care-takers of Kumari offer puja to Mu Baha
Kumari. Soon she miraculously will recover from
her sickness.
2. Rama. Pa.mle. a. devoted researcher working on
Iter doctoral on Kumari, expressed her belief in
Kumari as goddess in her interview to Kantipur.
3. Badri La! Shreslha fell the. divine daivya shakti
when Kumari from Kilagah was invited to his house.
4. A puja is offered to Taleju Again (Sacred shrine)
from her side.
5. She is able to drinks alcoholic beverages without
6. The divine daivya shakti caused a girl from Want
Tole lo recover from an incurable eye infection.
7. Former Kumari, Rasmila Shakya. once confessed
about the divine power in her interview.
Bajracharya/ Kumari in Newar Culture
51 8. Michael Allen explains the spiritual aspect of
Kumari in his book 'The cull of Kumari virgin
10. Kuman's Dress Code
It is not mandatory to have Kumari wear red clothing all
the time. When Kumari takes a tour of city, she is allowed
to wear skirt made of golden Tinkha fabric. It is also
unnecessary for a Kumari to be adorned and decorated
to look like a typical Kumari. She does not necessarily
have lo decorate her forehead with red vermillion powder
or put on the dibya dristi (the third 'eye') all the lime
However, during the nitya puja, the decoration is kind of
mandatory as sign of discipline. Furthermore, Kumari's
variant types of uniform corresponds
to the various meaning in traditional
Mahayana Buddhism.
11. Financial  Support
to Kumaris
Sunita  Shakya  was  chosen  to  be
Kumari during NS  1088-1098 but
when il became time for her to step
down, she was not ready to descend
from her throne as the Kumari. In
order for her smooth transition into
the real world, the government made
some special provision of retirement
allowances. Ex-Kumari receives Nrs.
300.00 per month until the age of
21 or until a marriage takes place.
She also gets Nrs.  1000.00 for Ihi
expenses and lastly, Nrs. 10,000.00
for her wedding  expenses.   Sunita
Shakya was the first Kumari  who
secured such benefits and from then all ex-Kumaris from
then till now receives these benefits from the government.
There have been few changes to this benefit, for ex ain pie
the amount was amended from Rs. 300 per month to Rs.
1882.00 per month until her death. Another benefit was
added to include education allowance of Rs. 1000 and
since 2057 BS'2000 AD this was again amended and set
as follows until now:
Continuation of employed baby sitter (care taker) that
was started in NS 876/ 1756AD. The first one was Shree
Luxmi Shakya
12. Suggestions and
Recommendations for Kumari
The ancient tradition must be amended according to
current atmosphere and situation. The provision should
be good for good not just for current situation, Kumari
tradition belongs to Newar society; she should not be
abandoned from getting education on language and culture
of Newar people. She should be offered a scholarship for
her education from the very7 beginning until she wishes
to study in higher education. There should also not be
restriction in choosing a field. The
educational programs and schedules
for Kumari should also be equally
balanced to her physical, intellectual
and mental development. She should
be given education on modem
technology by providing access to use
of computer. Furthermore, a special
scholarship should be established
to promote her education from the
kindergarten to highest level giving
her choice of field.
12.1 Provision to parents of
The parents including immediate
family members should be allowed
to visit Kumari chhen (house)
whenever they desire. The parents
the Kumari house.
of every current Kumari should be
given the choice to live with her in
12.2 Kumari's Rights
Current Kumari
Education allowances
Ex Kumari until death
Ihi Allowance
Marriage allowance
Paid baby sitter
NTs. 6000.00
Nrs. 1000.00
Nrs. 3000.00
Nrs. 1000.00
Nrs. 50,000.00
Annual allowances from Guthi Sansthan 36 .75 Muri rice
Even after stepping down from the Kuman liTe all Kumari
should be given opportum ty to lead and organize woman's
development programs to secure her honorship in the
society. She should be given exposition as guest on child
right activities and program. She should also be given
equal opportunity to develop, as children need to develop
relating to intellectual, physical, educational program.
She should also be given a place in every religious and
cultural program instead of just focusing on her during
the yen vau (Indra Jatra) festival. Since she is considered
as a human form of Taleju Bhawani she should be given
opportunity in meetings relating lo formulation of rules
Newah V'ijnana-6 \
and policy development for protection of the nation.
13. Discussion of Ex-Kumari's
In Sandhya Times ( 1122 YanlaThwa 7), Late Heera Devi
Shakya, 88 years young at the time, has expressed her
feelings on riding the chariot as goddess as a pleasant
moment in her life as a Kumari from 1041-1042 NS.
HarshaLuxmi Shakya said it was nice to be worshiped and
ride the chariot as goddess. She found it very enjoyable
during her period of becoming Kumari in 1075-1081 NS.
She was invited as the chief guest on annual function
organized by the Nepal Heritage Society.
Rashmila Shakya the Kumari of 1104-1111 NS has written
the following paragraph as her own experience.
"It is wonderful to think back those times and it is
remarkable al thai time everything seem so normal,
women came to pray lo me for the health of their
children, the king came lo worship me. people came
from all over the world to see me, a huge croM'd
came out lo see me at Indra Jatra.... Looking back 1
am proud lo have had these unique experiences."
(Rashmila 2005 page 143)
wa thwaya sahitya Departmental Symposium.
pp.141-168.TU, Kathmandu. Nepal.
Kasaah, Prem Bahadur (NS 1084) 'jhiigu Naatak
Parampara' (our tradition of Drama) Ratneswara
Pradurbhawa. Chwasa pasa, Yen.
Malla; Vijaya (N.S.1112),Kumari Byale,Yan, Nepal Bhasa
Panday, Rama(BS 2059/2002AD) Ashar 15, 'phursad
ko kuraakani' Kantipur saptahik, Kantipur
publication, Kathmandu.
Prajapati, Krshna (NS 1124) Khwapa yaa kumaari (
Bhaktapur Kumari), Friday's Sandhya Times
Pradhan, Bhuvan Lal (BS 2048/1991AD), 'Kathmanduki
Jibit Devata-Kumari, Gorkhapatra, Ashojs.
Shakya, Rashmila (2005), 'From goddess to mortal, the
true life story of formal royal Kumari', Bajra
Publication, Kathmandu.
Slusser, Man' (NS1102/1982AD) Nepal Mandala..
Princeton University Press, Princeton
Tamot; Kashi Nath (N.S.1101) Kilaga: ya Devi Pyakhan,
Kapan (Chwasa Muna), Yen, Kilaga:, Man Bhaya
Pucha: N.S.1101P131-136
Thakur La Manandhar (N.S.1104), Bhaiu Nibandha,
Kathmandu, Giridhar Lal Manandhar,
** The Nepal Bhasa version of this paper was presented
in the symposium organized by the Central
Department of Nepal Bhasa, Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandu on July 23rd, 2005.
Padma Sumana Shakya of Bhaktapur expresses her
feeling that being Kumari was one of the greatest luck
in her life.
14. Conclusion
The tradition of Kumari is not a matter of abolishment
but it's a matter of promotion as primary source of
philosophical and cultural integration and need to keep
it alive for many years by enhancing the new idea and
technology of modern world. This is the necessity of
the current situation and path of ideology for future
generation who might follow it as culture of dignity and
respect to Nevvar tradition. This is identity of Newars
and their philosophy that is based on religious harmony
and cultural integration. It should be comprehensive to
all as a rising sun that stays all day where various kinds
of activities take place during its life.
Allen, Michael (1996), The Cult of Kumari. virgin
worship in Nepal Mandala Book point
litis, Linda (NS 1110), Jala Pyakhan in Historical and
Cultural perspectives. Proceedings on Nepal Bhasa
Bajracharya/ Kumari in Newar Culture
53 Newah Solidarity
Maheswor Shrestha
Some months ago some of my local friends and I had
a guff on Nepal's historv'. We recalled the golden and
glorious period of rule of we Newah people. But we
were soon saddened by the fact - loss of our state -the
healthiest, wealthiest and the most prosperous, civilized
and independent state of the time - due to our own
disunity and indifference. When people lose their state,
they (except some renegades and collaborators) lose
everything. Their history is distorted, their property is
looted, their women and children are molested, they are
described as cowards, they are treated as slaves and what
not? The only salvation for them is to regain their own
lost state, their own independence.
Can we regain our lost glory, dignity and independence?
We stormed our brain and found that it was not impossible.
When Jews can establish Israel, when Bengalis can have
Bangladesh out of Pakistan, when the state of Jharkhand
can emerge out of Bihar, why can't we Newah people
regain our lost state of Nepal Mandal again ?Yes, we can.
236 painful years have passed since we lost our state and
there have been great many changes in the world. Current
ground reality says: we can regain our lost state only
when other indigenous nationalities also can regain their
lost domains. That too is possible only when Nepal will
have been restructured as a federal state.
The concept of federal Nepal has now become a strong
demand of several political parties and organizations of
almost all indigenous nationalities of Nepal. Our own
Newah Dey Dabu is also advocating the same for the
autonomy of Newah people. When the conquered peoples
stand and struggle united, nothing can stop them from
winning freedom.
Once convinced with this great idea, we felt we have our
duty towards realizing this noble demand of federal Nepal.
There are many small things that play important roles in
achieving a big success. So, we thought of doing away
with our own genetic traits first - disunity and indifference
- by launching a campaign - Newah Solidarity Campaign.
Newah Solidarity Campaign is an effort to bring all Newah
people around the world into a strong bond of unity and
fraternity through direct person-to-person contacts by
sharing their happiness and sorrows, by raising voice for
justice when they fall victim to injustice and to provide
possible relief to a Newah in the dire need of assistance.
The Campaign does not consider religious belief, political
ideology, geographic location, linguistic variation,
financial position, social stratum, caste and creed to which
a Newah may belong. To Newah Solidarity Campaign, a
Newah is only Newah, a dignified member of the glorious
Newah nationality community. Newah Solidarity
Campaign was launched in the beginning of 2005 and is
still in the stage of developmental concept. 1 believe that
with your cooperation and involvement the Campaign
will take a concrete shape of an authentic institution in
the near future will help a lot in attaining autonomy to
Newah people.
Besides a large number of Newah contacts in Nepal,
the Campaign has established live contacts with Newah
people in Japan, the Netherlands and the USA. Contacts
with Newa people in Australia, England and India are
progressing. Contacts in other parts of the world are in
the search.
The Campaign will be given a suitable name and a final
shape once contacts will have been established in (at least
a dozen or so major countries where Newah people are
living in a considerable number.Basic activities of the
Campaign are to collect Newah related information from
various sources, process them into a suitable format and
send them as Request Solidarity Messages to Newah
people around the world calling for an action - sending
Newah Vijnana-6 best wishes to a Newah for his/her noble/heroic historic
undertaking, congratulating a Newah on his/her success-
achievement, sending condolence messages to a bereaved
Newah, comforting a Newah who has fallen victim to
an injustice and raising voice for justice by demanding
attention and action of government authorities of any-
country In near future, the Campaign will also try to
raise charity fund for a Newah who is in an urgent need
of assistance and who makes appeals for such assistance
Functions of Newah Solidarity Campaign largely
depend on use of media and telecommunications means.
Contacts in person depend on an individual. As of
now, the Campaign is totally dependent on emails and
phone calls. When it grows strong, it will have to have
access to print (newspapers), audio (radios) and visual
(TV and websites) media as well. But it all depends on our
own effort .In order to execute its activities, the Campaign
plans to locate focal points (main contact persons) district-
wise in Nepal and country-wise(more if needed) in the
rest of the world until next arrangement. Functions of
a focal point at this stage will be to (1) collect Newah
related information from various sources in his her area
of responsibility, process them into a suitable format
and forward them with a request for solidarity to Newah
contacts in his/her area of responsibility and to other
focal points, (2) receive request solidarity messages from
other focal points and forward them to Newah contacts in
his/her area of responsibility, and (3) do other things as
appropriate and as needed.
The solidarity messages will be written in two
languages: Nepal Bhasa and the English language
simultaneously to allow for that Newah who have
difficulty in understanding and writing Nepal Bhasa.
The request solidarity messages should essentially contain
(1) full name of the person to which solidarity is to be sent,
(2) his her shortest possible introduction, (3) the briefest
description of the event, (4) his/her location, email address
and phone/fax numbers, and (5) where applicable, names,
position s of the authorityies, locations, email addresses
and phone fax numbers if they are also to be addressed to
demand an action by them.
Until next arrangement, I myself will be acting as
the focal point for whole of Nepal. Mr. Suresh Bhakta
Shrestha. a gentleman doing PhD at Tokyo University,
has offered to become focal point for Japan. Dr. Bal
Gopal Shrestha is helping a lot from the Netherlands.
Mr. Tribhuvan Tuladhar is even displaying the
Campaign's matters in NOA website as well. The
Campaign is in search of focal points for other countries.
Dear friends, I have tried my best to explain to you the
objectives and modus operandi of Newah Solidarity-
Campaign. As I already said, it is still in the stage of
concept. You can be one to define and set its objectives and
to frame up its structure and improve its modus operandi.
So you are most welcome to join Newah Solidarity
Campaign and march ahead to unite the glorious Newah
people. Inviting again to join Newah Solidarity Campaign
and looking forward to hearing from you soon,
Circulated on 4-25-2005 - @ 13:15
Shrestha/Newar Solidarity Campaign
55 Viewpoint
On Nepal Sambat
Roshan Shrestha
One of the most innovative find extraordinary work of
our great ancestors and their leader Mr. Shankhadhar
Sakhwa is the establishment of an era devoted to nation
and people - the Nepal Sambat- unlike many other eras
of their time devoted to a powerful king (or political;
religious leader). The popular hear-say story behind Nepal
Sambat that tells how Mr. Shakhadhar Sakhwa became
rich overnight is often questioned but few questions are
asked how people of Nepalmandal survived debt free
for centuries  unlike  others  in  the neighboring areas.
My gut feeling says, only the consequences in the story-
might be true not the whole story. It is to be noted that
we are talking about the society of a millenium year ago
in this topic where feudal politics was deep rooted and
religious norms were the core values of the society. Yet
the nation displayed a unique unity to establish a new
era displacing another era named after the great ancestor
(King Manadev) of then ruling King Raghavdev. This
single fact springs out a lot of hypotheses and poses a huge
research issue to unravel the hidden truth behind the whole
episode of transitioning Nepalese society into a new era.
King Manadev formed a strong country expanding Nepal
to larger area than the great ancestor PN Shah of current
King had done. So, it is quite logical to assume that King
Raghavdev would be unhappy for demolishing the Era
named after his forefather. Some people argue that the
King brought the idea of new year lo revamp the social
balance alter suffering badly from natural disasters like
earthquake, cholera break-out and prolonged drought
which might have compelled him for a great change. But, 1
think other way. The public dissatisfaction musthave led to
a massive revolution just like we had one recently in Nepal
that weakened feudal control in the society and degraded
public faith toward the feudal centers. Such a massive
deterioration of public trust might have inspired the society-
lo dedicate newly establishing era to the nation and public
ratherthan suffixing after unpopular nameof IheKing. Just
recall how people changed names of schools, bridges and
public service sectors recently in Nepal that were named
after royal members while they were strong in power.
Nepal Sambat was absented from its official use by Prithvi
Narayan Shah to indicate the end of Malla dynasty, and
later on the Rana regime banned using it in all official
records. The rana regime brought Vikram Sambat. The
movement lo revive Nepal Sambat started once again
alter Ranas exited from power. There is discussions
going on to bring back the Nepal Sambat in official use
again, which however could pose some trouble because
of its none-standard time-shifting system. Current world
requires a 24-hour uniform daily cycle and seasonal
syncing months, which does not exist in Nepal Sambat.
I think, this problem has no solution except adopting
the Gregorian days and months that is used all over the
world. It would turn out to be unique and practical too.
We can take example of Japan in this case. Japan has
adopted Japanese year and gregorian month and days
for official use. For example, a birthday' falling on NS
1094 Chaulathvvo Saptami turns to be 2029 Chaitra 27
and 1973 April 9. Converting dates among these three
calendars is complex mathematical problem, and simply
out of capacity for ordinary people. It may be unpractical
to go through such complex change for daily-use purpose,
where we seek to have a uniform calendar compatible
with the system adopted elsewhere. The Japanese calendar
converts this date to S48-04-09 (where SYY=YYYY-
1925), which is simple once the Gregorian dale is known.
We can also write our date in the same format such as
N094-04-09 (where NYYY=YYYY-879). This format
can be used in all practical purposes without any conflict.
The Nepal Sambat movement is at its high time these days
as increasing mass have started to recognize the worth of
its contribution for New Nepal. It is our responsibility
Newah Vijnana-6 to understand the norms and values of Nepal Sambat,
participate in arguing for and against its merits and
demerits, help in research and educating our younger
generation in our capacity such that we would not lose one
of our decent achievement in our history and the pioneering
work of our ancestors toward having a justice society.
A Publication of Newah Organization of America
M.-.n (Wntt-U-n of Am.rt«<MO*>
May 36- 200/
Sfiresfha/On Nepal Sambat
57 Nepalbhasa Online
Founded for Newah
Language and People
Our website is www. nepalbhasa org; since it is not open
to public and being worked on, Ubin-ju has kept it also
under nepalbhasa.
Nepalbhasa is spoken mostly by the Newah people, natives
of the Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding villages,
cities and territories also known as Nepal Mandala. It
has its own script and dialect with rich literature. Before
the rule of the Shah dynasty, Nepalbhasa was an official
language of Nepal Mandala. For the last 237 years of Shah
and Rana dynasties, Nepalbhasa and also other national
languages of Nepal have been intentionally discriminated
and suppressed by the country rulers in favor of Khas
language (later named as Gorkhabhasa and Nepali) under
the so-called slogan - one country, one language.
In light of our past experience it has become clear that
the future of our own language, culture and tradition
depend on us and not on the government. Hence, our own
contribution to revitalize and sustain Nepalbhasa is highly
critical. However, it is our Civil Rights to demand from
the Nepal government of equal treatment and rights for
all Nepalese national languages including Nepalbhasa.
In the context of recently announced "Parliamentary
Proclamation - 2006", we feel that an environment has
been created to recognize the Civil Rights of indigenous
Nepalese people and their languages, but there is still a
long way to go in institutionalizing it.
Even many months before the announcement of the
Proclamation 2006, we - the Newah people living in
the Unites States - felt a historical obligation toward
our mother language, Nepalbhasa that is the soul of
identity of the Newah people living in Nepal and all over
the world. As a result, Nepalbhasa Online (NBO) was
founded on November 12, 2005 in San Antonio, Texas
and registered on December 28, 2005 with the State of
Texas as a non-profit organization for the purpose of
providing online resources mainly to the Newah people
in order to revitalize, preserve and develop Nepalbhasa in
this information age of Internet.
An action committee comprising of 5 coordinators, was
established for legally representing Nepalbhasa Online
and for executing its responsibility as determined. The
coordinators are as following:
* Gyanendra Hyoju (Salt Lake City, Utah):
Information Coordinator
* Raj at Gopal Rajbhandari (El Paso, Texas):
Editorial Coordinator
* Suchitra Bahadur Shrestha (San Antonio, Texas):
Organizational Coordinator
* Suraj Krishna Shrestha (San Antonio, Texas):
Financial Coordinator
* Ubin Malla (New York City, New York):
Web Development Coordinator
* Dr. Swoyam Prakash Shrestha, a visiting scientist
at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical
Research was given a responsibility of a Special
Ambassador of NBO.
Our Vision:
Our vision of Nepalese society is a diversified multilingual
society where every Nepalese nationality has the rights to
education in their mother language.
Equal rights to all Nepalese national languages and
communities including Nepalbhasa and the Newah People
create a peaceful and harmonized society.
Newah Vijhana-6 Diversity is unity. Diversity is the strength, not division
of Nepalese society. Nepalbhasa - the soul and identity of
the Newah people.
Literacy in Nepalbhasa among the Newah people is
Our Objectives:
* To provide an online resource to revitalize,
preserve and develop Nepalbhasa.
* To develop the Nepalbhasa Online website (www. in phases with targeted tasks
towards achieving the main objective.
* To create online web community in learning
* To promote literacy in Nepalbhasa by
strengthening morale of the Newah people in its
* To disseminate community activities information
as widely as possible in Nepal and abroad.
* To raise awareness of Nepalbhasa both inside and
outside the community through all possible media
by introducing language maintenance programs.
* To raise funds for well-defined Nepalbhasa
* To establish friendship and co-operalion among
other nationalities in Nepal and abroad for
common causes.
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59 Book Review:
Newar (Nepal Bhasha),
Languages of the World
Materials 256
By Dr. Austin Hale and Kedar P. Shrestha
Published by: Lincom GmbH
GmunderStr. 35
D-81379 Muenchen, 2006
Dr. Austin Hale and Kedar P. Shrestha are not new in the
study of Newar Language. Dr. Hale appeared in this field
with introduction of Conjunct and Disjunct pattern of
verb inflection similar to pre established Atma and Para
distinction referring to self and non-self variation in native
literature. His appearance in his field is genuine and highly-
appreciative for his detailed study of Newar language that
is made available to all including the linguistic circle of
The current volume is one of the most valuable outcome
of his long term study of the Nevvar language. It is one of
the greatest updated resources of information in Newar
language studies. One of the most striking images 1 got
from this publication is the title 'Newar (Nepal Bhasha)'.
Both of these terms hold truth in historical perspectives.
Once, it was ill fully labeled 'NEWARI' following the
misguided scholars of Brain Hudson and Hans Jorgensen.
The term was copied by several foreign and native
scholars until the end of 20"' century. Since then it took a
different turn and realized the native speakers' concern on
naming of language by foreign scholars. From this respect
it is certainly a plausible joint step.
Focusing on the subject matter of the book, it is noticeable
that the current volume describes the entire feature of
human language available in Nevvar. There is a difference
in writing the grammar of any language by a native
speakers and alien scholars. The current volume meets at
the juncture of both type of works. Therefore it is one
of the most valuable guideline for the study of Nevvar
linguistics. However, as it appears in the translation of the
text materials, the co-author does not seem much involved
in dissemination of technical features of linguistics rather
than orthographical input on his native tongue. From this
point of view the current volume lacks the accuracy of
translation in terms of semantic and pragmatic meaning
of text materials to some extent. The book is based on the
Kathmandu and Patan Dialect (as categorized by Shakya
1992) which is considered the standard and also used in
the media The similar kind of study can be conducted
in each and every dialect and sub dialect. The analysis
of the text is given in interlinear data base throughout
the volume. In order to prepare the current volume, the
authors have cited an extensive number of reference in the
related field from 1841 to2005AD. The book discusses the
phonology, morphology and syntactic features available
in Newar language. It includes many features such as
anti-deictic, pronoun derivatives, intentional action,
mutational inflection, head contrast on case marking,
group inflection, semantic space, versality, concatenation,
affinities, apposition' type of auxiliaries (such as
participle link, infinitive linked, and long stem linked),
receptive, equative, and descriptive copular clauses, back
ward spreading, short stem subordination, co-relatives,
infinitival and finite subordination etc. Introduction of all
these terms certainly inspires the native linguists to dig
into more details of syntax and semantic universalities of
human language.
Some of the unclear gloss and translation found in the
book have been marked here for precise inherent semantic
value. The contrastive sets given in 1.2.2 and 1.3.1 need
more specific gloss or need to be selected different words
with phonetic variation besides the following examples.
KA, laka. pA: pu. ga: bi. la. khine, jaye. jwa, jhA:,
jaye, thaye. phaye. nwaye
The usage of lateral and taps (page 8) are still sketchy.
Since no contrast is available in initial and final position
a debate may occur on whether 'rani js loan to Newar or
vice versa. The example of 'lAkhe' could be a colloquial
form of Sanskrit rakshyaka (guard) instead of rAkshyasa
Newah Vijhana-6 It is also questionable that whether the glides mentioned
on the fifth page are breathy (yh) or actual glide (hy). Some
examples such as wa (s he), wa: (cake) waha (silver) who
/ hwo (hole) needs to be verified with more specific sound
analysis. Similarly, yAun (not heavy) hyAun or yhAun
(red) should be free from native orthographic influence.
The explanation on alternative stem in nouns given in
pages 27-32 is much clearer in this volume. This feature
is very tricky that causes confusion to the contemporary
learners. Without consulting to classical form of the
modern words this topic may not be transparent. The
word  mha' (body) is analyzed in multilinker approach
discussed in 2.2.3 with examples and The
later one is identified as anti-dietetic. To my knowledge it
was not discussed anywhere else. The anti-deictic 'mha'
has a plural form 'pin' based on occurrence and function,
bul the writers have claimed that ihe anti-deictic by control
has only one single form. It can be reexamined for further
clarification. Introduction of   -na   in 2.2.8 as pronoun
derivatives is also mentionable here. It is also possible
to find '-kana' as a variant
that may lead to underlying
form. As a native speaker I
feel comfortable using the
'pAla'   as   an   underlying
form        for       inanimate
classifier    mentioned    in    Moreover,    swa-
kwan ( as by it self ) phu-
kwan (as a whole) dak-wan
( as existed) wa-kwan ( as
a whole cause of coming)
and wan-kwan (as a whole
cause of going) may need
to verify with suffix 'kwe'
in  Discussion of
mutational   form   of verb
inflection    is     plausible.
The identification of stem
final in class 2 verb need
further examination rather
than based on co-aulhor's
personal       interpretation.
The section on adjectives
in 2.5 is very short. Where
as    the    discussion    on
various types of auxiliary
such as participle linked,
infinitive     linked,     long
stem linked is worthy to
mention  here.   Previously
they were simply examined as multi functional auxiliary
verbs and it is obviously creditable how different ihey are
in syntactic structure and semantic relationship. Labeling
of various types of auxiliaries is unmatchable invention
on complexities of auxiliary verbs in 4 4.
Discussion of versality in 3.6.2 in reference lo the word
'thAe' (place) is certainly a nole worthy to mention here.
Previously this type of usage is identified as simple way
of presentation similar to English 'there'. Semantic
embedding of versality discussed in the book may lead
to another chapter of detail study of narrative discourse.
Besides, it also talks aboul post positional concatenation
in addition lo verb concatenation available in mosl TB
languages claimed by Delancey (1984), is subject of
noteworthy for further study of Newar discourse. In
example 4.9 the word 'gapate' is precisely external but
'throat' may have a sense of internal part. As disputed
with KPS, the example 7.4 would be more specific and
precise as follows.
manu nan bazAre dugu myugulin wa misAn kApa
nyAe phut a.
In translation, a cause of
being able to buy clothes
is buying of goal by others
whereas in the text the
cause is nol reflected. It
seems like a transcribing
chapter 7
in   8   also
of      clause
device      in
and   topicality
throw   light
on discourse analysis.
Identification of 'dliAsA'
as land mark topicality is
In sum, the book is
undoubtedly an extensive
study of Newar linguistics.
It is certainly an excellent
guide line for further
study of Newar syntax and
semantics. The chapters on
phono I ogy and m oiphology
could be Nevvar specific
features but the features of
syntactic construction may
need to deal with influence
ofthedominating language
or the aerial  or regional
attributes that leads to unfold another whole chapter in
study of Newar linguistics.
Book Review: Newar
61 Book Review:
Celebration  of D^athi
Writer: A W Van den Hoek
Editors:  J.C. Heesterman, Bal Gopal, Shrestha,
Han F. Vermeulen and Sjoerd M. Zanen
Published by: CNWS Publications Leiden , The Netherlands, 2004
Table of Content:
Kathmandu as a sacrificial arena
Ritual cycle of Kathmandu
Gatham mugah: Expulsion of demons,
Gai Yatra: the day of entry to heaven,
Indra Yatra: the captive king of the gods,
The start of Dashain: Paehali Bhairav Yatra,
The dying gods: the divine dances of Gathu
The  conclusion  of  dashain:   sacrifice  and   Sword
Tihar:  the turn of the ritual year.
The book itself is out spoken about four months long
period of festivals. Beginning on hari sayani ekadai and
ending on hari bodhini ekadasi ( 11 th day of bright half of
the month of D;7/a in June July and 11"' day of the bright
half of Kachala in Oct November is traditionally called
the Chaturmas in newar cultural heritage more specifically
it is the core festival time in Nepal Mandala. Before
or after these festivals no other specific and significant
occasion is observable. 'Caturmas' is the mirror of Nepal
Mandala inhabitants the Newars. Therefore the focus on
title Caturmas is very relevant and significant in context of
Newah culture I have heard from many Newah personals
that the chaturmas is already started auspicious occasion
of getting married is not possible easily, What it means
here is that during these four months people freely do
not organize lasaia activities but dedicate to devotional
one. So festival of death period is not so auspicious. The
secondary title of the book is the 'celebration of death'.
When a death occurs certainly it is not a joyful moment the
book discusses the four month festivals from Galhamuga
to Tihar. It is certainly mixed matched information in the
current context of Newah heritage. No newah community
celebrates Tiliar instead of Swonli. From this perspective
the books has limitation on choice of words and adopted
common terms that was taught during Panchayat period.
During this period a massive suppression from govt,
and system was active hence the ethnic awareness was
marginalized by calling every thing Nepali and the writer
was also influenced with this suppressive opinion gathered
from native people. The editors should have filtered these
influences and make the book core cultural exposition. Use
of Gaijatra, Indra Jatra. Dashain and Tihar certainly do
not reveal the core subject of Curtumas tradition. Instead
Sayah , Yen yah, Mohani and Swonti are the appropriate
terminology to discuss by keeping the core culture free
from diluted with khas tradition.
Official Book Presentation at the Research School CNWS,
University of Leiden, The Netherlands
On 18th of January 2005 at 17:00-17:30 (Nepal Samvat
9 Pohela 1125 and Vikram Samvat 5 Magha 2061 at
21:45-22:15 Nepal time) the Research School CNWS,
University of Leiden has presented an important book by
the late A.W. (Bert) van den Hoek in Leiden.
The book's title is Caturmasa: Celebrations of Death in
Kathmandu, Nepal (Leiden 2004). It is an anthropological
study of religious festivals in Kathmandu by the late Bert
van den Hoek (1951-2001), a Leiden based anthropologist
and indologisl having twenty years of research experience
in South Asia, who was affiliated to CNAS at Tribhuvan
University, Nepal until his sudden departure from the
present world. On 1 December 2001, Bert van den Hoek
passed away in Mumbai (Bombay), India after a tragic
On 18 January 2005, the program began with a short
welcome speech by the director of the CNWS, professor
Barend te Haar. Professor J.C. Heesterman, one of the
editors presented first copies of the book to Professor Dirk
Newah Vijnana-6 Kolff, form er di rector of the CNWS, and to Mrs. R. Kam ps,
mother of the deceased. Professors Heesterman and
Kolff also highlighted the significance of the book. This
festive occasion look place in the. presence of professors
and teachers of the CNWS, the Kern Institute, many
colleagues and friends, including distinguished guests
such as the Consul General of Nepal, Cas de Stoppelaar.
In his written message, His Excellency Ambassador of
Nepal to the Netherlands and Belgium, Narayan Samsher
Thapa expressed that 'the event will remain important for
the promotion of the culture of Nepal in this part of the
This book presents an in-depth view and analysis of the
religious festivals celebrated in Kathmandu during the
four months (Caturmasa) period of the year. The book is
based on long-term fieldwork and presents an inside-view
how religion works in a society where several castes must
cooperate, and where both Buddhist and Hindu rituals are
practiced in order to cope with death. The book focuses
on the relation between religion and political power
in Nepal and deals with
Kathmandu as a sacrificial
arena. Its central themes
are death as the ultimate
sacrifice, and the eminent
role of kingship in a ritual
The book represents an important contribution to the study
of South Asian rituals. Caturmasa: Celebrations of Death
in Kathmandu, Nepal is of interest lo students of cultural
anthropology and of South Asian, particularly Nepalese
culture, society and ritual.
Details of the book:
A.W. van den Hoek, Caturmasa: Celebrations of Death
in Kathmandu, Nepal. Edited by J.C Heesterman, Bal
Gopal Shrestha, Han E Vermeulen and Sjoerd M. Zanen.
Leiden: Research school CNWS (CNWS Publications
Vol. 133), 2004. xiv + 188 pp., 25 ills., maps, diagram,
glossary, index. ISBN 90-5789-098-4 Price € 20.
Orders can be placed at: CNWS Publications, e-mail
Contact/i n form ati on:
Dr. Bal Gopal Shrestha,
co-editor. e-mail:
shreslhal 1 (fi:
Boole Review: Caturmasa.
63 Introducing an Unusual
Book in Nepal Bhasha
(Oral tradition of Newar Buddhism)
Upadesh Sangrah
Told By: Heera Maya Vajracharya
Written and Published By:
Sthabir Jog Ratna Shakya, Kathmandu
Gumma Heera Maya Vajracharya is one of the most
influential teachers in my life and I hold a humble and
profound respect for her. I can still remember meeting
her for the first lime how I immediately felt her divine
presence deep w itltin my self. Fl was her motivation thai
gave mc so much success in my own life. Because of
her profound wisdom and inspiration, i) became a daily
routine to pay her a visit. In fact, if 1 happen to miss a
day. wc both started experiencing a sense of longing
and lacking in our daily routine. Therefore. I set a time
to visit her on a daily basis for several years.
During this period of visit, she encouraged me to make
more use of our time together. She challenged mc have
an inquisitive mind beyond talking about unnecessary
worldly desire. She wanted me to be more thoughtful
and to think deeper for more valuable question. She.
in return, promised to answer my question by calling
upon her intuitional know ledge gained from praying to
almighty goddess.
At that moment, my limited knowledge left mc
speechless. I did not know which question to ask during
an invaluable sermon. She recognized my discomfort
and told mc first to start by learning aboul Karma Lekha
or existence of all living and non-living beings, and
their usefulness in human society. With this foresight,
her lessons began with origin of the universe including
each and every items used in our daily lives that were
within the range of my vocabulary. While delivering
these sermons, other people also started to take deep
interest in her teachings and they too started lo visit
her on a daily basis. At that lime, modem recording
teclmology was not available and so I wrote to take
traditional notcsand then sometimes 1 would write them
up at home as I remembered. She made it mandatory
for her audience to be
vocal and therefore, an
incompleteness   of   this
is   merely  due  to  lack
of  my   vocabulary   and
knowledge.   Although  I
am regretful now. I ask myself who is going to give us
lessons on undocumented subjects?
At the beginning. I must admit that it was ven boring
lo take notes on each and every items discussed. Bui as
time passed by, my interest blossomed along with my
attention and I found importance in each subject. To
believe whether or not that every state of being is result
of Kannic cycle is a matter of personal interpretation. It
is also personal to accept ain facts to be believable and
to be disregard due to its lack of credibility. Because
there is some degree of truth on unbelievable facts too.
it is unfair lo claim her teaching is baseless and truth
less even if some of the incidents matches with ones
own life style.
After the sudden demise of the King Mahendra in 2028
BS. King Birendra took over the sovereignty of Nepal.
With deep interest and success of his ruling. Gumma
prayed for his long life and stability in the country by
delivering the auspicious teacliing to her disciples.
First, she prayed for goodwill to all living beings and
mentioned that we wish no living beings should be left
out from attaining enlightenment from this teaching, is
the main focus of litis teaching. Knowing the facts and
feature of each (existential) Jataka element in wliich it
is our dut> lo use that element in appropriate field. As a
result, we receive the gist of that element. She assured
to all the attendants thai wc must follow the rule of
nature and protect our lives by utilizing all the Jataka
Newah Vijnana-6 elements in proper way and respect their existence, ft
is good not to waste any living substance in improper
way. If an element is not good for health, it is simply
due to its karmic nature. We must accept this fact and
utilize them in association with other good elements
rather than neglecting and destroying them. By doing
tliis we can improve our lives and ultimately we attain
the path of peace in mind and make it easy to approach
the way of Nirvana. This is the main focus of this
In some cases, she explains her teaching through
short stories accompanied by a description. I consider
this methodology- of teaching to be one of her great
intellectual ability in presenting the sermons. If 1 had
not painstakingly written down in pieces of papers. I
would not be able to present it in the form of the book.
I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to w rite
her sermons for all of you. One of the reasons why this
was not published, even after ten years of her death
anniversary7, was solely due to disarrangement of notes
and lack of my own knowledge on documentation
procedure. This lacking caused me lots of hassle in
putting together in serial organization. After compiling
all the notes into one large volume of hand written
book, f presented this dibya vcmi to well-known
Pundits such as Late Dharma Nanda Vajracharya. Late
Amogha Bajra Vajracharya. Puma Harsha Vajracharya.
and Satwa Tara Vajracharya. All of them have read
the book thoroughly and compared the content with
other purans and thya saphus. Then it was also read
out to her disciples including Swayambhu Sikhrakar.
Panchabir Singh Tuladhar. Nani Mayeju and Jagatdevi.
Then in request of many other disciples who missed
the occasion at her residence. I summoned once again
in my house for four months. During these occasions
many of attendants have made a special request to
make compilation available to many more. Therefore,
it is published in the form of this book. At that time
even though request was made, a sufficient financial
support was not available. Therefore it was published
only in lithographed form. Even though the Gumma
had begun to deliver this sermon ten years ago in 2027
BS. 1 was rushing to complete it for public in time
for the 12th year festival of the Vajrayogini shrine in
Pharping. 1 am fully responsible for delay in bringing
this book out.
ft was very unfortunate that the book did not come out
during her lifetime. After the completion of teachings.
Gurma asked me if there was anything else that I
wanted to know. I was once again speechless and could
not remember any other subject that I did not touch.
It was very noticeable that she took long breathe of
satisfaction and she did what she was supposed to do
in her life. As a blessing from her, f was chosen to the
position of 5th Tliaepa (Sthavir) of the Kesh Chandra
Maha Vihar (Itum Baha) and secured my place in the
Sacred Agam of my own linage Vihar. Finally, she
took her last breathe on 2031. Phalgun 21. The living
legendary person passed away with fulfillment of
Nirvana. The sudden demise of Gumma stunned all her
disciples who were left speechless and fear for further
guidance. 1 also went through lots of hassle in my life.
My beloved wife was also tremendously shocked and
she could not bear to see her absence. Finally-, she left
me with six precious children in difference of less than
six months. In such a way I gained some knowledge
but on the other hand my composite Prajnopaya
was broken. I consider it as the result of my Karmic
Even until all the typing work was done the book was
not named. I was simply referring it as Jatak Mala but
since it is solely based on her teachings I thought of
naming it as collection of her teaching hence I called it
the "Upadesh Sangrah'".
The book contains the following 27 chapters and
various Topics:
1. Namaskar and Vandana (Salutation to Divine Beings)
2. Shristi Jnaana (Evolution of the the world)
3. Pyangu yoni prani utpati wa sthabar prani
(Evolution of four types of beings and vegetation)
4. Kita Patang prani (Insects)
5. Andaja prani (the beings born from eggs)
6. Jaravirja praam (The animals)
7. Jaraayuja Jantu Janawar (Wild animals)
8. Puspa .Mala ( Flower world)
9. Phalataa (fruit world)
10. Masala pwa (Nuts)
11. Anna Buuba (Beans and grains)
12. Paka Masala Spices (Spicies)
13. Sag Sabji( Green Vegetables)
14. Sthabar Jharpaatf Plant beings)
15. Kalpa Vrikshya Sthabar (holy plants)
16. Khal Gati praani (six Type of beings)
17. Sumeru Mandala Dwipa upadwipa(Celestial region
and arena)
18. Bhumandala yaa pyemha Juju (Four Devine Kings of
19. Bichitra Dhanga yaa praani (Unusual Beings)
20. Lakshyan Ukta Pyapu Kathi (Four Holy sticks)
21. Kaag Raja (The Serpent beings)
22. Asta Ratna Jnaana (Eight Noble Gems)
23. Punyaatma Jnaana (Welfare souls)
24. Griha Laxmi Shiil Sobhawa (Lyaajyaa
25. Kosha yaa khan (story of Down)
26. Durgati Mochan yaa khan
27. Manju Shree Mahatmya
Introducing an Unusual Book.
65 Miscellaneous
Newah Organization of
America (NOA)
NOA Press Release:
Nepal Sambat 1128 Thinlathwo Khasthi
Dated Dec. 13, 2007
Newah Organization of America (NOA) celebrated
1128 year of Nepal Sambat this Dec 9, 2007 here in the
Metropolitan Washington to highlight the significance of
the indigenous lira of Nepalas the true Sambal of Nepal.
Cross-section of the local Nepalese communitv was
present at this event some 120 individuals and supporters.
Master of the ceremony. Mrs. Bahi la Shrestha, asked
Ihe Chief Guest Mr. Kali P. Pokharcl, counselor of the
Embassy of Nepal, to inaugurate the program by lighting
the traditional Twaadewaa'. Welcoming the participants
Mr. Tribhuvan R. Tuladhar, President of Newah
Organization of America (NOA) said that Nepal Sambat
is the era borne in our homeland Nepal, and recently
Prime Minister of Nepal Mr, Girija P Koirala had said
that "Nepal Sambat belongs to all Nepalese, and he would
include the datum in the official letter pad of the office
of the Prime Minister of Nepal for all correspondences".
Mr. Tuladhar said that this commendable action must
be followed by all Ministries, Government departments
and institutions of Nepal, and asked the Embassy of
Nepal here in the L"S to follow- the same. He called on
all media to include the Nepal Sambat datum in all their
transmissions in a voluntary manner which will sel the
right sel of examples for the entire Nepalese people to
follow. He said despite broad understanding of this
issue, substantial opposition slill remains that need to be
removed. Mr. Tuladhar also said that Nepal Sambat is
our Common Heritage for all Nepalese that will uniteus
in building a NEW NEPAEPresident of NPPA Mrs,
Meera Shrestha, President of ANS Mr, Prem Sangraula
& Coordinator of ANWA, Mrs, Madhavi Karki spoke at
the occasion with new years Greetings on the occasion
of Nepal Sambal 1128. Chief Guest Mr, Kali P Pokharcl
spoke on the occasion and highlighted the contribution of
Nepal Sambat. Vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Eros
Tuladhar to all participants and contributing individuals
and well-wishers for their continuing support.
Next session of the day's program highlighting the
Nepal Sambat and speakers spoke cloqucntlyabout the
significance, history and importance of Nepal Sambat.
Mr. Beda Pradhan, past President of NOA, spoke about
the significance of Nepal Sambal, its long history of
1128 of continuing use in Nepal. He said thai it is the
longest running and used Sambatin Nepal for all purpose
of cultural and traditional celebrations or events in every
community in Nepal. Only the ruling class has adopted
an era that is brought from India and uses them in the
government. Mr. Hariman Shrestha, General Secretary
of NOA, dug deep into the history and legend of Nepal
Sambat and its origination, and said that it is the mosi
appropriate era to adopt for the New and Emerging Nepal
at the time when we are coming out of a suppression of a
feudalistic society into a free and democratic one which
Nepal Sambat as an Era so well exemplifies. He said that
people will realize this and understand it more and will
adopt Nepal Sambal with pride for its uniqueness and
authenticity. Dr. Maheshor Vaidya, Md. an ardent social
activist of the community deciphered the various Eras
in use in Nepal and established the true role of Nepal
Sambat in the history of Nepal He said that Bikrain
Sambal actually has no relevance to any part of history
of Nepal whatsoever, and was introduced by Chandra
Sumsher Rana of the past Rana regime for personal
selfish gains and so it has to he taken out completely. Mr.
Ishwar Rajbhandari, director of NOAEC (NOA Language
Center) teaching Nepal Bhasa lo the kids of the Newar
Communify here in the Metropolitan area reiterated that
parents must teach their mother language to their kids and
the new generation to keep culture and tradition alive. 1 le
said that the right name for the mother tongue is Nepal
Bhasa. The conquering riders of the past changed the
name of Nepal Bhasa to Newari and calling their Khas
language - Nepali, as Ihe slate language, for the last four
years the classes has been going on and development in
children's language capability has been improving along
with singing Newah songs. He asked parents lo bring
in their kids to the classes, Mr. Rajesh Shrestha, Prime
Newah Vijnana-6 promoter of NEPALFEST '07 a unit of NOA promoting
Nepalese Music and Artists in the US which has num ber of
successful musical events recently, thanked all those who
helped and assisted in making the programs successful.
He said he missed Ihe opportunity to do so at the events.
Power point presentation
of" recent events on Nepal
Sambal around the world
was sent by Mr. Daya
Shakya, VP of NOA,
and NOA Chapter in
Oregon was presented
and a 25 minute long telefilm "Sankhadhar" was
presented for the audience.
An the concert and songs
section Mr. Shyam Shahi
presented   an   authentic   and
captivating Manjushri dance with a tradition Newah
dance by Anuja Tuladhar, singer like Rajesh Shrestha,
Bisvvamber Shrestha captivated the audience with Love
songs. Most of all lyrical and melodious songs of Mr.
Dinesh Bhandari stole the hearts of Ihe audience for quiet
some time. Participants enjoyed the traditional Samay
Bajee and "Swadishta" Momocha - a taste of tradition
Newah cuisines. NOA thanks all those who took lime to
participate in the celebration and thanks all volunteers
and contributors for the event.
NOA thanks all media present and their help in getting
the news across, namely, SagarmathaTV, NepalHorizons.
com, Radio Dovaan, Bishwa-Parikrama, Bishwa-Sandesh,
Nepalipost, DC Nepal and all others.
SAMBAT 1129 next year together! NHL' DAN YA
HAPPY NEW YEAR NOA will be organizing its Annual
Convention and General Meeting this coming May 25,
2008 during the memorial day Holidays. AH are requested
to join in and actively participate in it programming and
events. NOA Chapters were established in California,
Man land, and Oregon. For other news about NOA
activities please visit
Preserving and Promoting
Newah Heritage
Nepalipost Report
Washington DC, May 31, 2007
A cross-section of the Nepalese community in the US
and their guests from Nepal participated in the sixth
annual convention and general meeting of the Newah
Organization of America (NOA) on May 26,
2007 in
Breaking from tradition, the convention was inaugurated
by  a  representative  of the  Nepalese  embassy, First
Secretary Harish Chandra
G him ire. The traditional
Twadewa was lil and
puja to Lord Ganesh was
NOA Organized Gala
Welcoming all guests,
heads of organizations,
and participants, NOA
President Tribhuvan
Tuladhar thanked all
the dedicated people for
their invaluable help and
support. He called upon the government of Nepal to
fulfill the pronouncement made last year by Prime
Minister of Nepal Girija Prasad Koirala to officially
establish Nepal Sambat as the national calendar and called
on the entire Nepalese community here in the US to join
hands with NOA to celebrate Nepal Sambal 1128 as the
true Nepali new year. He reiterated that Nepal is a multiethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual
country, the diversity of which is unique. Mr Tuladhar
urged all the community members to keep supporting the
organization as they have done before in order to grow
and develop it into a strong and relevant organization.
At the NOA general meeting session. General Secretary
Hariman Shrestha presented the NOA annual report for
2006-07. He called upon the Newah community to give
their feedback and suggestions to make the organization
more responsive to the needs of the community. NOA
Treasurer Mr. Balaram Joshi presented the organizations
annual financial report.
Speaking from the podium, NOA President Mecra
Shrestha called on the organization lo work logether to
achieve common goals. Ms. Bishnu Thapa of ANWA
indicated that we are all Nepalis first and should be
able lo work together lo promote our culture and arts.
Mr. Nctra Ghising of ANS also spoke at the occasion.
Likewise, Dr. Sunntra Manandhar Gurung and Dr.
Krishna Bhattachan from Nepal spoke about the Newah
culture al length and the audience was captivated by their
At a talk program titled " Newah Culture and People-
where we are," panelists Dibya R Hada, Dr. Roshan
Shrestha, Dr. Sumitra Manandhar Gurung and D'.Krishna
Bhattachan spoke in length about die issues of the Newah
ethnicity and traditional values and the Newah peoples
67 way of life through the ages.
This year, NOA introduced the "Song & Music Contest'
and some 15 new emerging performers threw their hals
in  the ring. The  "Emerging
Star Award" went to Zizbia
Shrestha, a talented 13 year-
od who wowed the crowd with
a   great  dance   performance.
The       "Best       Performance
Award" went to the Newah
class    group   who    sang   a
Newah   song,    followed    by
the   "Favorite   Song Award"
going to the local upcoming
group,   the   "Mirage   Band".
Well  known  artists  like  Srijan Tamrakar  "OKELY",
Sandeep    Pradhan    and    the    "Angles    band"    also
entertained  the audience to  their delight. "Ihe Event
concluded with the traditional Newah Bhoye as usual.
Newah Cultural Heritage Program
Portland, Oregon,
June 3rd, 2007
On Sunday, June 3rd, 2007, Dance Mandala and
Portland chapter of" NOA (Washington DC-based Newah
Organization of America) jointly organized an evening
program on 'the Newah way of Life' in Portland, Oregon.
The program began with a slide show and a presentation
by NOA vice president and prominent Nepalese language
teacher and linguist, Mr. Daya Shakya, on the topic
'Divine and Sacred Sites as Source of Security and Safety
in Nepal Mandala*. He emphasized the importance the
Newar culture on issues of safely and security in spiritual
aspect. Following Mr. Shakya, a graduate student of
ethnic musicology at Washington University, Mr. Brent
Bianchi, did a presentation along with a demonstration
of various types of Newah drums and instruments. These
musical instruments included Khin, Dhaah, Dabada,
Bhushyaa and Tinchhu. Along with Brent, Mr. Suva
Shakya, a graduate student from Oregon State University,
shared his experience of participating in the Gunla festival
in Kathmandu, Nepal by including a demonstration of
the Newah drum, 'Dhaah*. The final presentation was
a a lecture by a prominent master dancer, Mr. Prajwal
Bajracharya, on how the teachings of Dance Mandala
combine the importance of dance and its relationship
with gesture and mental aspect. Several people from the
Newah community attended the evening gala along with
their American friends. On the occasion, cultural and
religious artifacts that included clothing, ritual items, idols
and books, were on display. For the program, the Newah
families of Portland also prepared a sumptuous Newah
cuisine buffet. The program ended with presentation of
charya spiritual dance by Helen Appel and her friends
along with a Dhimay dance by Prajwal Bajracharya
The Portland Chapter
of Newah Organization
of America (NOA)
was formed in 2006 in
collaboration with local
Newah community. The
main objectives were
to bring awareness
on Newah cultural
heritage of Nepal in the
leadership of Prajwal
Bajracharya, along
with Dr. Rabin Man Shakya, Ekamananda Bajracharya,
Pradeep Bajracharya, Sunil Tamrakar, Pramod Karanjit,
Surendra Shakya, Diwakar Maharjan and Rajesh
Mha Puja in Portland
November 2007
For the occasion of Nepal Sambat 1128 acknowledged
last November, the traditional Newar ritual, Mha Puja,
was performed at Dance Mandal in Portland, Oregon. The
ritual for purification for the coming year was officiated
by Newar priest and president of the Oregon chapter of
the NOA, Prajwal Ratna Vajracharya. Shri Vajracharya
was joined by a group of Westerners, some new to the
Newar tradition. Each participant had a mandala al their
seat made of soybeans, puffed rice, and other gi-ains and
beans with a goza [a stupa representation made of flour]
in the center. The main mandala at each place represented
the participant's body, speech, and mind Brass plates
held the representations of the five elements; rice and
fruit for earth, water contained in a copper cup, wicks Tor
fire, flowers for air, and incense for space. There were also
other offerings for purifying the 5 elements of one's own
body mandala. Shri Vajracharya chanted from the Sanskrit
text and guided the participants in English to engage in
their own purification process while he explained the
significance and meaning. For the end of the ritual egg,
fish, and wine fkhayn saganj were shared.
After the ritual, a festive Nepalese dinner was served to
the attendees and for Nevvar guests. The evening was a
beautiful example of how these two distinct cultures of
East and West can integrate, as well as appreciate and
benefit each other.
Nepa Pasa Pucha Amerikaye
Newah Vijriana-6 (NPPA)
PRESS RELEASE: Sunday, November 25,2007
On Saturday, November 17, 2007, the 16lh Annual NPPA
meeting was held coinciding with the celebration of
Nepal New Year Sambat 1128 at Shady Grove Middle
School, Gaithersburg, Maryland. This year's theme was
"Culture & Diplomacy." During the annual meeting, the
yearly issue of NPPA's DABU publication was launched
and distributed.
The event began with "GANESH POOJA" followed
by a traditional Newah SAMAY BAJI. Master of the
Ceremony Ms. Sharmila Uprety welcomed the guests
and participants to the celebration and requested the
chief guest His Excellency Dr. Suresh C. Chalise,
Ambassador of Embassy of Nepal to inaugurate the event
by lighting the traditional TWADEWA (oil lamp stand).
His Excellency Ambassador, in his speech, praised NPPA
and other Nepalese community residing abroad for their
continued efforts in promotion and preservation of Newah
and Nepalese culture and encouraged building a Nepal
Mrs. Meera Shrestha, President of NPPA, gave a welcome
speech and highlighted the Nepal Sambat, the progress
NPPA has made in promoting Newah culture, the support
it has received from its fellow friends, and the importance
of media and Internet to educate and motivate the new
generation. She also promoted the idea of creating a
network of Newah organizations in the United States and
other parts of the world. She also highlighted the current
activities of NPPA, particularly the upcoming concert of
Indian Idol HI - Prashanl Tamang Live-in-Concert to be
held in collaboration with Vishwa Sandesh on December
I, 2007 at Oakton High School in Virginia.
The invited distinguished guests at Bhintuna included
Honorable Mrs. Sharada Shrestha. judge of Supreme
Court of Nepal, and Honorable Laxmi Das Manandhar,
Member of Parliament and chief guest His Excellency
Ambassador Dr. Suresh C. Chalise.
The invited heads of Organizations included Mr. Tribhuvan
Tuladhar, President of Newah Organization of America
(NOA), Mr. Prem Sangruala, President of America
Nepal Society (ANS), Dr. Bidya Ranjeet, President of
Nepali Women Global Network (NWGN), Dr. Narayan
Rajbhandari, Former President of Nepalese Association
in Southeast America (NASeA), Dr. Tulsi Maharjan,
President of Friends of Nepal (FON-Nevv Jersey), Mrs.
Madhavi Karki, Coordinator of America Nepal Women's
Association (ANWA) in DC and Mr. Ram C. Kharel,
NRN Media coordinator of North America,
The program started out with the Honorable Laxmi
Das Manandhar speaking about the importance of
understanding historical evolution of Newah culture and
Nepal Sambat, This was followed by the Honorable Mrs.
Sharada Shrestha delivering the keynote speech of Newah
culture. Mr. Sugandha Tamrakar, Treasurer of NPPA,
next presented the NPPA financial report. Mr. Laxman
Pradhan, Vice President of NPPA, then gave concluding
remarks and expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to all
of the participants and dedicated members who made the
celebration a great success. He emphasized that active
participation as well as working as a team is critical for
the success of any organizations.
Dr. Devendra Amatya moderated a forum on "Culture
and Diplomacy" in which the panelists Jackie Young
and Tony Prebula presented their discussion. Jackie is
a volunteer with Green-Tara Foundation and Tony is a
L'niversity of Maryland student with the CISV program.
Dr. Amatya also moderated a session on "NRN issues
and The Transfer of Technology". Dr. Shyam Karki,
an invited speaker, updated about the current status on
Non-Resident Nepali (NRN) issues based on the recent
NRN Convention in Kathmandu, Nepal. Another invited
speaker, Dr. Narayan Rajbhandari, presented ideas on
culture and technology transfer. Mrs. Sheila Shrestha
organized the Youth Activity forum.
The participants were then entertained by a lively and
thrilling cultural program with Newah and Nepali music,
songs, and dances including the vibrant and entertaining
music by famous Nepalese artists Aanupama Prasai,
Shri j an Tamrakar, Yam an Shreslha, Sanjeep Pradhan, and
Shyam Khadki.
The DC Nepali School team sang the welcome song
"Upahar tho Marina ya Bintuna". Other talented artisls,
Sarana Shrestha, Manish Pokharel, Nabin Shrestha,
Manaswi Sangraula, Aakriti Khanal, Rajesh Shrestha, and
Rosi Joshi (from Minnesota) performed various popular
Newah and Nepali songs and dances. Mrs. Saroj Prajapati
and Mr. Ravi Lamichhane successfully moderated the
cultural program.
NPPA President, Meera Shrestha recognized life members
Mr, Raju Shreslha and Mr. Pancha Shrestha for their
outstanding services to NPPA and also recognized new
life members.
The election committee chairman and the former NPPA
president Dr. Devendra Amatya announced Mrs. Meera
Shrestha as re-elected President, Mr. Laxman Pradhan
and Mr. Bijaya Shrestha as first and second re-elected
Vice Presidents respectively, and Mrs. Magan Shrestha
69 as Treasurer of the newly elected NPPA executive
committee for the 2007-09 term and congratulated them
all. Dr. Devendra Amatya announced that Mr. Shankar
Ram Shrestha would continue as General Secretary until a
new one is nominated and thanked all outgoing executive
members for their hard work and dedication to the NPPA
in their tenure.
President Mrs. Meera Shrestha delivered an acceptance
speech thanking all members for the trust and confident
they have bestowed upon the new executive committee
and her commitment to move NPPA toward its goals
and mission. She then finished by awarding certificates
of appreciation to the outgoing executive committee
members Mr. Shankar Ram Shrestha (General Secretary)
and Mr. Sugandha Tamrakar (Treasurer) for their
outstanding services to NPPA.
About 350 members participated in this Nepal Sambat
(year) 1128 and Bhintuna celebration. Special feature of
the day was a traditional Newah "BHOYE' (feast). NPPA
volunteers served the sitting guests with a variety of
typical Newah dishes traditionally used in BHOYE. The
Newah "Samay Baji" and the "BHOYE" was catered by
Himalayan House restaurant from Baltimore, Maryland.
Also bringing the event to a close, were some raffles and
door prizes.
Sagarmatha TV, and various
media and other representatives were present in this
celebration. This marked the sixteenth-year that the
NPPA has successfully held a Nepal Sambat 1128 (Mha
Puja Bhintuna) celebration coinciding with its annual
The NPPA, established in 1991, is a Newah organization
based in the metropolitan Washington, DC. Its primary
mission is the preservation and promotion of Newah
cultural heritage, traditions, and customs in the L]SA.
For more information please contact Mrs. Meera Shrestha
( or visit
Newa Dey Daboo Japan Organizes
Talk Program on Newah Society
and Nepal Bhasa
June 6, 2004
Speaker: Dr. David Gellner
On June 6th 2004, Sunday, a talk program on Newa
Society and Nepal Bhasa was held at Jingumae Ondenku
Kaikan, Harajuku in Tokyo. This talk program was the
first activity of Newa Dey Dabu, Japan. The speaker of the
program was Dr. David Gellner who is an anthropologist
and a professor of Oxford L'niversity. He is currently
in Japan as a visiting professor of Tokyo L'niversity of
Foreign Studies. He spoke on the title " Bhasa mwasa jati
mwai (If language is kept alive, the community speaking
that language will also be alive)".
Dr. David Gellner said, "Only Nepal is preserving old
Buddhism." He commented on the custom developing
among the newas, which encourages young generation of
Nevvas to speak Nepali language rather than Nepal Bhasa.
Because they fear that their children would not be able
to speak good Nepali Language. This tendency of using
Nepali Language at home while talking with children has
decreased the number of Nepal Bhasa speakers. He had
pointed out on this matter that Nevvas, themselves should
be aware of it and should try to preserve their language.
He said that in the present context, children could learn
Nepali Language at school and from other media. So, it is
not necessary to speak Nepali Language at home. Instead
they should put a tradition of speaking Nepal Bhasa at
home. Further more, he added that he was impressed with
the Newas custom of not putting Phuli (nose pierce).
Dr. Gellener gave his speech in Nepal Bhasha At the end
of his speech, a discussion session was held. Dr. Dinesh
Manandhar conducted this session. Both Newas and
Japanese audiences participated in the discussion session
enthusiastically asking several questions regarding Nepal
Bhasa and Newah culture.
At the beginning of the program, secretary, Subarna Lata
Tuladhar of Newa Dey Dabu, Japan introduced the moti ves
of Newa Dey Dabu. She also gave an introduction of Dr.
David Gellner. After that, treasurer, Suwarn Vajracharya
gave an opening remark. He talked on the importance of
speaking Nepal Bhasa among Newah community. Mr.
Madhav N. Manandhar, president of Newa Dey Dabu,
Japan, has chaired the program. A book "Nepal Bhasa
Chhapala (Nepal Bhasa Step-1)" written by Mr. Suwarn
Vajracharya was inaugurated (Bimochan gariyo) by the
president. The book is published under the Newa Dey
Dabu, Japan. Then Mr. President presented one copy of
this book to Dr. David Gellner. Dr. David Geller was
honored by handing a Letter of Appreciation. The whole
program was conducted in Nepal Bhasa. The work of
Master of ceremony was done by Subarna Lata Tuladhar
and all the program was translated into Japanese by
Shovana Bajracharya.
The program went smoothly despite of rainy day. There
were about 50 audiences (Newah, Japanese and other
foreigners). After the talk program, a reception was done
at a Japanese Restaurant.
Newah Vijnana-6 NEWAR
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Prajwal and Dance Mandal are in the
planning phase of construction of a small
Nepalese/Newar temple in the courtyard of
our new location.
in its rich sacred arts and architectural
traditions, is grounded in experiential
practice and esoteric Vajrayana ritual and
yet is accessible to all through its emphasis
on the energies and interactions of the five
elements. It is the last living current of
Sanskrit Buddhism still actively practiced in
Asia today. Long hidden from those outside
the tradition due to the secrecy surrounding
Vajrayana practice, it has only recently come
to scholarly attention and public view.
PRAJWAL VAJRACHARYA has devoted his life
to the fulfillment of his father's vision of
bringing Newar Buddhism and especially
Newar temple dance out to the world so
that many may benefit from observing and
practicing this wondrously beautiful and
transformative tradition. Establishing a
Newar temple in the West will he a major
step forward in the preservation, expansion
and exploration of Newar Buddhist art
and dance, meditation and ritual, while
welcoming other traditions of sacred art
and practice to share the space.
We will give updates on the progress of the
temple, now only in the planning stages.
DONATIONS of any kind - helping hands,
finances, resources, etc. will he gratefully
accepted to support the building of this
small temple.
THANK YOU! We appreciate your interest
and hope to see you at the new space!
Please Contact Us
71 Exist
Nepal Mandala
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O/n arfftya srimal sree sakyasmgha lathagatasya Buddha-kshatrae bhadrakalpe vaiswala manwantera himabatparvata
daksina parsvae satya ireta dwaparante kaliyugasya prathama charanaye jambudvipa vasuh kshetre aryavarta punya
bhumi nepala des'e bagmatyah das'ina bhage manirohinya paschima bhage prabhawatya ullarakone kesavatya purva
kone gopuchha giribare sudurjaya bhumi bhage upcltandoha pithe sri heruka virupaks'ya klmgananadhivosite aneka
sarana madhye amuka(l) noma sambatsare sri suryadak-shinayand uttarayane amuka(2) ritau amuka(3) mase sukla
paksyaf krisanapal'Jye anmka(4) punya lithau amuka(S) nakshyatre amuka(6) yoge amuka(7) karnamwhute amuka(8)
barasare amuka(9) rasugate bhaskara amuka(lO) rasaugale chondromas! dona paiiryajamana bhuman- dalantargate
Nepala mandate amukat 11) mahanagaref grame amuka(12) tole I bihare vaslhile hdotpanna sri..sri.sri (13)...
The phrases below are to be replaced wilh their
corresponding number. These phrases can be interchanged
with date and time based on lunar calendar.
sarbari nam sambatasara
hem an ta ritau
thinla ga mase
navami punya tithau
hasta naksetre
ati gandha yoge
gara karma murhulc
mangala bare
dhanu rasi
kanya raasi
kanti pura
name of locality 1 vihar or tole
Host person's name
The Newar Buddhist community still chants this Sanskrit
verse to not only announce the host person's presence but
also to welcome and invite the recipient deity to participate
in this auspicious occasion. During the ritual, the host
person's cosmic address, including date and time of
occurrence of ritual, is announced. Furthermore, the word
aimika. meaning etcetera, is replaced by its corresponding
listed phrases. The listed phrases were calculated for the
early morning of January 1, 2008, which coincidentally
is also the date of debut of this issue of the journal. The
above Sanskrit verse, reproduced from the book titled
Saptabidhaontara Pooja Bidhi by Ratna Kazi Bajracharya,
has no historical dale of origins. However, the mention of
Nepal Mandala is one of the many invaluable resources
to its existence.
Newah Vijnana-6 nsus Report on
Practice of Religion
in Nepal
Comparative figures of various religious groups of Nepal censuses 1981,1991 and 2001
Distribution of Nepal's population by religion
+ 18.87
+ 14.58
+ 100.00
+ 100,00
- 19.89
+ 100:00
- 92 77
+ 198.98
+ 100
- 100.00
Total Population
Source ;
District Development Profile of Nepal 2001, Informal Sector Research & Study Centre
Population Census 2007 National Report, Central Bureau of Statistics
Statistical Year Book of 2001, Central Bureau of Statistics
7.  Increase of Hindu population is below national average in 7997 and 2001 Census.
2. Population of other religious groups increased dramatically in 7997 and 2007
3. Kirat, Sikh and Bahai religions and non-believers were not recognized in 7987
4. Sikh and Bahai religions were not recognized in Census 7997,
5. Non-believers were either not recognized or mixed up with "Others" in 2001
Made available by the NESOCA Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
Census Report on Practice of Religion in Nepal
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Listen to Manka
Dabuu Nepal Bhasa
live Radio Program
on Maitri FM at
everday at 10 PM
Nepal Time or 9:15
US pacific standard
Prajapati/Bisket Jatra Ra Vikram Sambat
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■ Courses   of  Study,   Master   Degree,   Newari,
Tribhuwan   University (Krilipur).  Faculty of
Humanities and Social Sciences. 2048
■ The Constitution of Nepal - English Translation
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nshakya @ gm ai 1. com
For More Information Please Contact:
Newah Vijnana-6 LOL
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(^oixyf. Conference, Seminar, Symposium,
Announcements and Reports
26th Annual Conference
Linguistic Society of Nepal
Nov 26-27,2005
Dr. Sunder Krishna Joshi
Nepal Bhasha phonology with special reference to its
today's writing system
Omkareswar Shrestha
-Karri a multi porous suffix in Kodpa dialect of Nepal
Yogesli Raj
Morpho syntax of the numeral 'one' in Newar language:
A preliminary study.
Tej Ratna Kansakar
Taboo words and expression in Newar Langauge
Talk Program
Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS)
& Central Department of Buddhist Studies
Tribhuvan University
July 22, 2005
Speaker:      Dr. Dina Bangdel
Topic: Sacred Arts and Living Treasures of Nepal:
The Circle of Bliss, Buddhist Meditational
Art and Newar Buddhist Art and Practice"
Talk Program
Central Dept. of Nepalbhasa
Tribhmvan L'niversity
July 23, 2005
Speaker:      Dr, Chunda Bajracharya
Topic: Kumari in Newar Culture
Talk Program
5th NOA Convention
Washington D.C
May 28, 2006
Speaker: Daya R.  Shakya
Topic:     Linguistic Analysis of Street and Locality
Names of Kathmandu
Speaker: Dr. Gautam Bajra Bajracharya
Topic:     Preservation of Nevvar Culture in US Museum
Speaker: Prajwol R. Bajracharya
Topic:     Tradition of Charya Dance in Newah Culture
Newah Dey Daboo
June 6, 2004
Speaker: Dr. David Gellner
Topic:     Nevvar Society and Nepal Bhasa
14th Himalayan Languages Symposium
Goteborg L'niversity, Goteborg, Sweden
21-23 August 2008
Keynote speaker: Scott DeLancey, L'niversity of Oregon
The Himalayan Languages Symposium brings
together scholars working on languages and language
communities of the greater Himalayan region: northwestern and north-eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan and
the Tibetan Plateau, northern Burma and Sichuan, and
Nuristan, Baltistan and the Burushaski-speaking area in
the west.
We invite abstracts for presentations on topics including,
but not limited to:
* Descriptions of lesser-known languages
* Argument structure
* Grammatical changes in contact situations
* Language change and variation
* Historical-comparative studies
* Typological studies
* Field reports
* Corpus-based analysis
* Language policy and language planning
* Ethnology and folklore
* Himalayan languages and new technologies
Submission procedure
Abstracts should be no longer than one page with one-
inch margins using at least an 12-point font. Along with
the abstract, please enclose a separate page specifying the
authors' affiliation, address, and e-mail address. Abstracts
may be submitted electronically (as an attached file in RTF,
postscript, PDF or MS Word format). Please send your
Miscellaneous Materials
113 abstract to HlsGoteborg at
Important dates
* Abstract due: 31 March, 2008
* Acceptance notification: 30 April, 2008
* Symposium: 21-23 August, 2008
If you would like to receive information aboul the
conference, send an e-mail
To HlsCioteborg at
Information about the conference is also available at the
conference homepage
<http: aninsaxena. hls/>
issue #2
(Newah VM
Issue #3
Issue #5
issue #4
Newah Vijnana-6 AA
embers &
Devendra M Amatya, PhD, PE
2253 Magnolia Meadows
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464, USA
Hydrologic Science/Hydraulic
Newah Culture & Language
Pradeep Amatya
384 Miraleste dr # 464
San Pedro, CA 90732, USA
e-mail: Amatya(®
Shashindra & Rama Bajracharya
2722 Mallory Ln.
Eugene, OR 97401, USA
Asha Archives
Gha 3-563 Kulambhulu
Kathmandu -3 NEPAL
Sophia Baidya
4720 Old Ravine Court
Columbus, OH 43220, USA
Brent Bianchi
23 N Knox St.
Durham NC 27705, USA
Newah Music
Cilia Brady
P.O. Box 873,
Bolinas CA 94924, USA
Kathmandu Valley Tours
Barbara Brockway
P.O. Box 171
Sisters OR 97759, USA
Central Department of Nepal
Patan Multiple Campus,
Tribhuvan University
Kathmandu, NEPAL
Center For Nepal & Asian Studies
Tribhuvan University
Kirtipur. Kathmandu, NEPAL
Central Library
Tribhuvan University
Kirtipur, Kathmandu, NEPAL
Chicago University Library
1100 E. 57thSt.
Chicago IL 60637, USA
Columbia University Library
535 West 114th St.
New York NY 10027- 7035, USA
Ellen Coon
7112 Ceda r Ave n ue
Takoma Park MD 20912, USA
Cornell University Library
110 Olin Library
Ithaca, NY 14853-5301, USA
Rummi Laxmi Dake
122 Myrtle St. # 1
Manchester, New Hampshire 03104,
Raj B. Dhakhwa MD
15 Clive Hills Road
Short Hills, NJ 07078, USA
Newar Culture and Language
Prof. Scott Delancey
Department of Linguistics,
University of Oregon,
Eugene, OR 07403, USA
e-mail: Delancey (Sdarkwing.uoregon.
Tibeto-Burman Linguistics
Prof. George Van Driem
Himalayan Languages Project
Leiden University
The Netherlands
Tibeto-Burman Linguistics
Prof. David N. Gellner
Department Of Human Sciences
Brunei University, UN Bridge,
Middle Sex UB83PH UK
Newar Religion, History, Society
Prof. Carol Genetti
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara CA 93106, USA
Himalayan Linguistics, Newar
Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan
language contact
Gifts From Afar
3101 Lloyd Center
Portland Oregon 97232, USA
Dhurba Gorkhali
2231 Halter Lane
Reston.VA 20191, USA
Gregory Price Grieve
225 Florence street
Greensboro, NC 27401, LISA
e-mail: ggrieve(a
Newar Culture and History
Dibya Hada
100 Watkins Pond Blvd. #305
Rockville, MD 20850, USA
Dr. Austin Hale
8636 Wald
Newar phonology, morphology,
syntax and discourse
Prof. David Hargreaves
Department of English
Western Oregon University
Monmouth OR 97361, USA
Tibeto-Burman Linguistics
Prof. Linda litis
11.M. Jackson School of Int'l Studies,
Box 353650
University of Washington
Seattle WA 98195-3650, USA
Comparative Religion, Newar
Language and Literature
Nathan W. Hill
1 Bow St. 3"1 door
llavard Sankrit Department
Members & Subscribers
115 Cambridge MA 02138, USA
nhill (
Sanskrit Studies
Gwendolyn Hyslop
2893 Bailey Ln
Eugene, OR 97401, USA
Current contact:
c/o Karma Tshering
P.O. Box 302
Thimphu, Bhutan
Tibeto-Burman Languages and
Puspa Man Joshi
2601 Muskingum court
Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA
Planning (transportation)
Saroj K. Joshi Ph.D.
10020 SE 203 rd St.
Kent WA 98031, USA
Laura Kainik
1270 Montery Avenue
Berkeley CA 94707, USA
Binod Kansakar
12926 Entrada Drive
Orlando, FL 32837, USA
Manoj Kansakar Ph.D
1832 Wright St.
Madison, WI 53704, USA
Tej Ratna Kansakar, Ph.D.
37/14 Naradevi Tole
P.O. Box 7045
Kathmandu, NEPAL
Newar Linguistic
Ganesh Lal Kayastha
1909 Alabaster Drive.
Silver spring MD 20904, USA
Kazuyuki Kiryu
Department of Environmental Design
for Special Needs
Mimasaka Women's College
Kamigawara 32 Tsuyama
Okayama, 708-8511, JAPAN
A*eu;ar, Typology
Nishigahara, Kita-ku
Tokyo 114-8580
Knight Library
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299, USA
Lauri Knytych
19111 SW Indian Creek
Lake Oswego, OR 97035, USA
Ulrike Kolver, Ph.D
Stieglitzstr. 61,
04229 Leipzig,
South Asian studies
KPT Info Trader, Inc.
2-3-18 Nakanoshima Kita-ku
Osaka 530-0005 JAPAN
Prof. Todd T. Lewis
College of Holy cross
Worcester MA 01610-2395, USA
Newar Buddhism
Lotus Research Center
Prayagpath, P.O.Box No. 59
Lalitpur, NEPAL
Tulsi R. Maharjan, Ph.D
Center for International Business &
Raritan\Talley Community College
P.O. Box 3300
Somerville, NJ 08876-1265, USA
Educational Development in Nepal
Ram Malakar
144180abale St.
Rockville MD 20853, USA
Raju Lal. Mali
2140 Dogwood St.
Cornelius OR 97113, USA
Gaurishankar Manandhar Ph. D
8 Keene St # J58
Columbus MO 65201, USA
Research in the field of Reproductive
Prof. James A. Matisoff
Dept. of Linguistics,
finiv. of California,
Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Comparative Tibeto-Burman
Ikuko Matsuse
Keio University
1-30-13-202 Higashitamagawa,
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
Prof. Dr. Ulrike Mueller-Boeker
Department of Geography
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190
CH- 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Human Geography, Development
Studies, South Asia
Harue Niwa
C/O Midori Book Store Co,
Toyonaka Po.Box 98
Osaka 580-8691 JAPAN
Kay Norton
!53°3 Ashworth PI. N.
Seattle WA 98133, USA
Bruce McCoy Owens
Dept. of Sociology1 and Anthropology
Wheaton College
Norton, Massachusetts 02766, USA
Steven M. Parish
9535 Vista Secunda,
San Diego, CA 92129, USA
Beda Pradhan
2621 Cory Terrace
Wheaton MD 20902, USA
Newah culture, history, art
Krishana Pradhan
302 S Bassett Street
Madison WI 53703, USA
Kpradha n @
Nepalese Linguistics
Narayan Rajbhandari PhD
3001 Cregler Drive
Apex NC 27502, USA
Watershed hydrology & Water quality
Newah Culture
Penelope Rose
1103 Clay St.
San Francisco CA 94108, USA
Donatella Rossi
8647 SE Alder Street
Portland OR 97216-1603, USA
Oriental Studies
Jennifer Salyer
995 Joshua Pi.
Fremont, CA 94539, USA
Nasma Shrestha Scheibler
Ruetschistrasse 21
8037-CH Zurich
Architecture and Town Planning,
Newar Culture
Buddha Laxmi Shakya
2233 Lincoln Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104, USA
Kelsang Shakya
9737 N. Clarendon
Portland OR 97203, USA
Newah Vijnana-6 Sarba Shakya
1508 E. Vine Ave
West Covina CA 91791, USA
Newar Handicrafts
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7904 Powhatan St.
New Carrolton, MD 20784, USA
Bal Gopal Shrestha Ph.D
Boerhaavelaan 88
2334 ES Leiden
The Netherlands
+31-71-517 5821
Bhagat Lal Shrestha
2072 Delta Dr
Gaithersburg MD 20882, USA
Computer Soft Ware,
Social Activities Newar Association
Mary-Jo O'Rourke/
Bimal Shrestha
25 Holloway Road,
Brunswick 3056, Yictoria
Nepal Bhasa Linguistics
Hariman Shrestha
2307 Tecumseh St.
Adelphi, MD 20730, USA
Newah Culture
Mita Shrestha & Larry Owen
375 Zaehary
Prescott, AZ 86301, USA
Prof. Mohan Narayan Shrestha
Subas/ Sachita Shrestha
15657 NW Energia ST.
Portland, OR 97229, USA
Suchitra. B. Shrestha
2626 Babcock Road 1702
San Antonio, Texas 78229, USA
Newah Language and Culture
Sugan / Magan Shrestha
34 Michael Court
Gaithersburg MD 20877, USA
Bhikkhu Sugandha
(Anil Sakya) Ph.D
P.O.Box 90
Ratchdamnoen Post Office
Bangkok 10200 Thailand
Tanka Sunuwar
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond WA 98052, USA
Software Design Engineer
Juhee Suwal
215J Michener Park
Edmonton AB, Canada T6H 4M5
Population Studies, Nepal Bhasha,
Kamal Raj Singh Suwal
642 Kirkland Drive # 4
Sunny Valley CA 94087, USA
Pavitra and Amrit Tuladhar
9627 E Road Runner Drive
Scotsdale,AZ 85262, USA
David Vala
4507 NE 20th
Portland OR 97203, USA
Architect and Artist
Helen Ward
14085 SW 144th Ave.
Tigard OR 97224, USA
Ann Weise- Souza
1035 Minna Street
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Western Oregon University
345 N. Monmouth Ave.
Monmouth OR 97361, USA
Rahena Wester
Ludwig Bachmeier Platz 5
D-84028 Landshut
Prof. Gautam Bajra Vajracharya
l'niversity of Wisconsin
Madison WI 53704, USA
Sanskrit/ Buddhist Studies
Gary Velikanje
P.O. Box 17192
Porland OR 97217, USA
Nepalese culture
Bowling Green OH 43402, USA
Newar Culture and Language
Nisha Rani Shrestha
2502 Babcook Road # 1916
San Antonio Texas 78229, USA
Rajiv S. Shresta 'Rachana'
Karunadevi Smarak Dharmartha Guthi
Gangtok, Sikkim-737-101 INDIA
E-mail in
Newah Activities in Sikkim
Razeesh B. Shrestha
946 Everett St.
EL. SaritiCA 94530, USA
Tribhuvan Tuladhar
15762 Ryder Cup Drive
Hay Market YA 20167, USA
trtuladharff/comcast. net
Mark Turin
Digital Himalaya Project
58 Parliament Hill
London NW3 2TL
LTnited Kingdom
Prof. Mukti P. Upadhyaya
Department of Economics
Oregon State University
Corvallis OR 97339, USA
Sarala Shrestha
842 Guilford Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21740, USA
Nepalese Literature
Bikram Vaidya
2571 NE 30th Ave.
Portland OR 97212, USA
Members & Subscribers
Newdh Vijnana
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ISSN 1536-8661
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Call for Papers
Newah Vijnana, the Journal of Newar Studies accepts contributions for its seventh issue which will tentatively debut in
2009. The journal's aim is to consolidate empirical, theoretical,
as well as any work done in Newar language, culture, art, history, custom, tradition, religion, biography, music, architecture, and the information on Newars around the world so as
to serve tools to preserve and expose the richness of Newar
Submissions (articles, abstracts of recently completed dissertations and reviews of any work on Newars, translations of
Newar literary works, notes on any work, project on
Newars) are invited in English, Nepali and Nepal Bhasha. A
hard copy and an IBM — compatible, preferably Microsoft
word (two-column format), file on disk or electronic transfer
to editors are required. The editors reserve the right not to
process submissions that do not serve the goals of the journal.
Daya R, Shakya
1719 NE 47th Ave
Portland, OR 97213, USA
Phone: I -503-282-0447, Fax: I -503-774-7554
From South Asian Countries
Siddhi R, Shakya
P.O. Box 571
Kathmandu, Nepal
Ph: 977-1-4265348


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