Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tantrik Buddist Dance

The Nepal Valley full to the brim with Buddhist culture established by Adi Buddhas like Dipankara is a land of glory graced by Swayambhu Mahachaitya, the self-emanating light, a vast array of Chaityas, temples, Jinalaya (monasteries), home of saints and sages. Nepal is a country with a long tradition of Sravakayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism since the ancient times to the present day accompanied by a continuous flow of rituals, cultural activities in the form of fairs, pilgrimages observed with piety and devotion. The august presence of Swayambhu Mahachaitya and a magnificent chain of monasteries have rendered the cultural tradition a meaning and a purpose.

It is this Swayambhu Mahachaitya which was the pivot of meditation, yogic practice and Buddhist rituals in the past. There is Sangha in each Vihar. Worship is done in each Agama. People carry on Buddhist ritual activities through meditation, yoga, and worship, praying for the attainment of Nirvana and Bodhisattvahood. People dedicate their lives to public welfare in every possible way in order to attain Nirvana. There is a tradition of doing welfare of the people by becoming siddhas and Bodhisattvas. Besides this, Vajrayana is practiced and Chachas are sung and chacha dances are performed to explain the meanings of various concepts of Vajrayana philosophy in a simple and delicate manner. By keeping each tradition alive, our ancestors living in bahas and bahis had living. The cultural history of Nepal bears witness to this fact. This very chacha tradition is still alive among the Vajracharyas and Shakya. This is the main reason why Manjushri and Swayambhu Mahachaitya, the Builders of Nepal's glorious past, can never be forgotten. Both will continue to be objects of veneration and piety in the distant future.

Introduction of Chacha

In order to perpetuate and preserve Vajrayana Buddhism bestowed by the Buddha, and Bodhisattvas through external and internal Pujas in their respective bahas and bahis, the former Acharyas had continued the practice in tune with the spirit of time. In this context, Charyagiti (Chacha song), Charya Nrtya (Chacha dance) constitute a potential treasure of the philosphy of Vajrayana Buddhism. This chacha does not exist simply in the form of a musical and poetic devotional song, but is also a medium of instilling the enthusiasts and devotees into the philosophy of Prajna, (Knowledge), Karuna (compassion) and Prajnaupaya (ways of Knowledge) through the knowledge like that of Pragaparamita being fully immersed in spiritual thinking and enternal truth. In this context, charya is one of the elements which is very much important in this external and internal tradition. There is the practice of chanting Chacha, Charya and cha: cha: the tradition of chachas like Vajragiti, Charyapada, etc within the Tantra tradition continues properly in the Nepal Valley, since the past.

The manifestation of the female deities of this tradition such as Heruka, Khaganana, Hevajra, Nairatna, Vajrayogini, etc. has taken place at the time of manifestation of Swayambhu Jyotirupa. In line with this tradition, after the Nepal Valley was made worthy of settlement by cutting of the ridge of Nagadaha with his Chandrahasa Khadga (sword named Chandrahasa) by Guru Mahamanjushri, a party of men who had seen Jyotirupa made a search of the spread of root of the lotus and eventually had the Darshan of Khagana Devi (Guhyes tiwari) After the Darshan of Khaganana Devi, Chacha of Hevajra Nairatnma (also called shodasabhuja chacha) was chanted and Puja was offered in full praise of Khaganana Devi. Similarly, he (Manjushri) had darshan of chakrasmvara and Vajravarahi and also chanted chacha. This is still a popular belief among the Buddhist of Nepal.

Considering the sad condition of the Chacha in the Kathmandu Valley, a group of enthusiastic Varacharayas and Shakyas established a Dance Mandala. This Mandala was established in Nepal Samvat 1116 (1996) with the objective of introducing the chacha in its original spirit truly representative of the essence of Vajrayana Buddhism.

In fact, in this fast changing work 40 years is a long period. Even then, chacha has not become popular among the people to the desired extent. It would not be too far to say that the Vajracharyas and Shakyas have remained away from taking initiative in this direction due to social criticism. The political and economic disparities and incongruities in Nepal are not less responsible for the decline of popularity of Chacha.
In order to preserve and protect the historic tradition of chacha in the Kathmandu Valley, Vajracharyas and Shakyas have kept alive the chacha, the worship of bahas and bahis and the ritual activities connected with the chacha. They have to guard against further deterioration of this tradition. It is time that chacha must not be confined to Agama ritual but it must be improved and preserved employing its various positive aspects as far as possible. The bahas and bahis which have a pride of place in Nepal must be developed as seats of Buddhist learning and culture as in the past. For this, Vajracharyas and Shakyas have to move ahead thinking the ways and means of developing their rich cultural heritage in tune with the challenges of time. It is only through this outlook that the Buddhist cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley can be preserved for years to come.

Living Goddess Kumari

Though the most elaborate Hindu temples are those dedicated to the worship male deities such as Shiva, Ganesha, Vishnu etc, far greater attention is paid to the propitiation of less august though more powerful and dangerous female deities. In addition to the popularity of such non-Tantrik female deities as Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati, the newars devote a great deal of their ritual activity to the worship of the Devi in one of her many dangerous mature, blood lusting forms (kali, Durga, Ajima, Bhairavi, Taleju etc). But the most notable and perhaps the unique feature of their religion is the prominence given to the worship of the Living Virgin Goddess — The Kumari

History of Kumari

Kumari Puja or "Virgin worship", is a feature of Hinduism of the greatest antiquity dating back at least to the vedic period.The earliest known reference occurs in a Sixth or Seventh century B.C. in which the sakti ('divine energy' or 'female creative principle') is adressed as Kanya Kumari. Thus for the evidence points solely to the existance of the goddess called Kumari; there is no information at all concerning the nature of her worship. Vamsavali provides a due to the possble origin of the unique practice of worshipping young girls as living Kumaris. There are many tales of the evidence of the kumari.The history of the kumaris can be analysis in the many of the facts. The most valuable facts are mentioned here as below.

Once there was a raja(king) Lakshmikamadeva of kantipur who reigned from about 1024 to 1040 A.D. He thought that his grandfather had acqures so much wealth and conqueres the four quarters of the world through the aid of the Kumaris, resolved to do the same. With this intention he went to the Patan Durbar, and having worshipped as Kumari the daughter of a bandya(shakya cast), living in a bihar near the Durbar, known by the name of Lakshmi-barmam, he erected as images of kumari and established the Kumari Puja("Virgin Worship").

A similar tale focussing on the dice game and subsequent retreat of the goddess into the form of a shakya girl is told in Patan, though the relevent monarch is said to be either Sidhinarasingh(King of Patan"), the seventeenth century monarch who built the first Taleju Temple. The widely known story recounts how kumari as Taleju used to come to speak to Siddhinarasingh in his agama in the palace. He ruled the kingdom in accordance with her advice. Then one day when they were playing tripasa his queen saw them through the keyhole. She complained to the king and when the goddess heard this she told him that she could not come anymore to a palace where she was regarded with suspicion. Siddhinarasingh was worried and asked her if they couldnot perhaps continue to meet if she too some other form.She then told him that she would enter into the body of a young girl whose parents were of a degraded and low proession.Siddhinarasingh himself looked for such a family and he selected the doodah, a section of the Bajracharya caste whose members gather gold-dust from rubbish and melt it down for re-working.

Kumari Ghar — House of Living Goddess

The Kumari who was once the tutelary divinity of the malla kings of patan, is still of considerable importance, especially in her own town. King Siddhinarasingh malla used to play tripasa( a kind of game) with Kumari in his own palace. one day queen saw them playing tripasa through a key hole. She complained to the king and when the goddess heard this, told the king that she couldnot come to the palace where she was regarded with suspicion.The King felt afflicted by the misbehaviour of queen and he beged apolize himself and also requseted her to meet in the otherway.and then kumari let him know that she would take a birth in the middle class family. And house where kumari is borned is known as "kumari Ghar"(kumari's house). And since the day, the house where living goddess kumari lives is regarded as "kumari ghar".

Now Patan kumari has not granted the official house or governmental house yet. She has been living with her family in her family house. The residense of the family house of Kumari is knowm as the "Kumari Ghar". The next new kumari has her own house as Kumari ghar. Recent kumari Chanira Bajracharya has being living with her family at the Ghabahal. It lies in the central part of the kumari city near by the Patan Durbar Square.

The Selection of Patan Kumari

The Patan Kumari is chosen from the daughters of the Hawbaha men. The descriptions of the selection procedure by the the selection commitee is describe here. When the previous incumbent, who was then about 12, was seen to be no longer fit because of some strange signs of ugliness on her face, a report was sent to the Hakim of the Chebhadel section of the Patan administrative system. The Hakim was one of the surviving officers of the old Malla regime and untill the position was abolished tasks in recent years, the hereditary incumbent carried out a number of ceremonial tasks. In Malla times he would have been one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. He came to Habaha and after looking at the girl declared her unfit , whereupon a man immediatly went around the locality announcing that all iligible girls should be brought to the baha. Twenty girls came and sat on the raised platform(Phalcha) just to the right of the entrance where the Malpujari(chief Priest) of Taleju, a Deo Brahman by caste, examined them with the Hakim acting as witness.Partly by interrogation of the girl's mother and partly by physical examination he reduced the field to just four. Then Malpujari then took them to the Bada Guruju (Royal priest) in Kathmandu for the final selection. The wife of the Bada Guruju first examined them physically and as a result two more were disqualified. Now the Bada Guruju asked two male assistants what they thought and after some consultation. Then the Bada Guruju , after a brief examination, declared her to be the next Kumari. The things that the Bada Guruju takes the examinitaions are listed here:

* The girl must belong to the Bajracharya clan, a community of goldsmiths, no more than a handful in number.
* Her family background must be impeccable with a reputation for piety, and the committee studies the candidate for calmness and poise.
* She must possess all the 32 lachchins (characteristics) of physical perfection. Her skin must be blemish-free, her hair and eyes, very black. Her body has to be sturdy as a Banyan tree, thighs like those of a deer, neck like a conch-shell and tongue, small and moist. The voice will be crystal clear, hands and feet dainty and sexual organs small and well-recessed. Strangely, for a child, she should also have a set of 40 teeth.
* Her horoscope must match that of the king's.
* If the blood-loving Taleju is to reside in her, she must not be repelled at the sight of gore. And to test her fearlessness, the child is pushed into an odiferous room with 108 decapitated buffalos laid out in a sea of blood. Men wearing horrid masks dance among them in an effort to frighten the child, who walks clockwise through this scene of carnage. If she cries out, faints or shows any sign of hysteria, she is immediately disqualified and the next candidate is brought forward for consideration.
Once the Kumari is chosen, she must be purified so that she can be an unblemished vessel for Taleju. She is taken by the priests to undergo a number of secret Tantric rituals to cleanse her body and spirit of her past experiences. Once these rituals are completed, Taleju enters her and she is presented as the new Kumari. She is dressed and made up as a Kumari and then leaves the Taleju temple and walks across the square on a white cloth to the Kumari Ghar that will be her home for the duration of her divinity.

Various specialist had stated thier own veiw on the selection of the Kumari. Dr. Allen has presented the criteria in detail for the selection of Kumari. The source of such information is Bajracharya the family of which alone has the privilege of their daughters endowed with such virtues. In his words the qualities and the virtues would be Kumari is supposed to possess are enumerated as made available to him by Bajracharya as below:

1) Feet well proportioned.2) Spiralling lines on the soles of the feet. 3) Nails well proportioned. 4) Long and well formed toes. 5) Feet and hands like those of a duck (with netlike lines). 6) Feet and hands soft and firm. 7) The body broad at the shoulders and narrow at the waist. 8) Thighs like those of a deer. 9) Small and well recessed sexual organs. 10) Chest like a lion. 11) Well-spread shoulders. 12) Long arms. 13) Pure body.14) Neck like a conch shell. 15) Cheeks like lion. 16) Forty teeth. 17) Teeth white and nicely shaped. 18) No gaps between teeth. 19) Tongue small and sensitive. 20) Tongue moist. 21) Voice clear and soft like a duck’s. 22) Eyes blue/black. 23) Eyelashes like those of a cow. 24) A beautiful complexion with white luster. 25) A gold-coloured complexion. 26) Skinpores small and not too open. 27) Hair-whorls stiff and turning to the right. 28) Hair black. 29) Forehead large and well-proportioned. 30) Head round with cone-shaped top. 31) Body shaped like a banyan tree. 32) Robust body.

The Aunti Kumari

Auntie Kumari is still virgin. She was selected and incarnated Goddess Kumari when she was 2 and half year. To the surprise to all whoever knows her and has visited the Kumari house admits there is one more miracle in the world to know how she has deserved the right to be worshipped and remained virgin even at the age of 56.

Officially Government denounced her as official Kumari on the only ground that she has grown old and can no longer be accepted as child and selected another one but in practice she remained virgin and maintained her chastity without being menstruated as yet at 56. She is being honored and worshipped
as usual.

Nepal Philosophy

Newar philosophy is totally different from other philosophies in the world. Their destination is to transfer oneself into the god or to be the god. 

In spite of appearance Buddhist Newars are a definite minority. This illustrates the process of Hinduization of Buddhist Newars because of the higher prestige enjoyed by high caste Hindus. As far as religious practices and the worship of the Hindu and Buddhist deities are concerned, neither religious group can be strictly placed in one category. Both parties visit and worship the same deities in Hindu and Buddhist temples. In fact, many of the temples and shrines in Kathmandu city is purely a Buddhist shrine, but on the same grounds is a shrine to Saraswoti, a Hindu goddess of learning; and in fact there is even a Hindu goddess situated within the entrance of the big Buddhist Chaitya itself. Hindus and Buddhists visit both sides to pay their respects. 

Almost all of the large religious festivals are observed and participated in by both groups with equal enthusiasm. Only domestic ceremonies and rites can be said to be peculiar to one or the other religious group. 

In actuality, Colin Rosser 'noted many cases throughout the Kathmandu Valley of individual Newar families employing a Brahman for some of its domestic rituals and a Gubhaju for others within the same household (sometimes indeed both priests would be present at the same time)'. The Gubhaju, who are also called Bajracharya and addressed as Gurju, are the family priests of Buddhist Newars. Deo Brahmans, who are addressed as juju, are the Hindu priests. Bare, known as Shakyas or Sakyabhiskshu, Misra and Jha Brahmans act as temple priests and recite religious texts among their respective groups. 

The religious practices of lower castes are much less involved since they have little in the way of domestic ritual ceremony and therefore do not have to hire priests. 

The Buddhist monasteries of the early days, indicated by the great number of bahas in Kathmandu and Patan, are believed to have degenerated under Hindu influence and the introduction of the caste system. The caste system, writes Rgmi, got regularized and hardened in due course and monasteries dying out produced the priest class of the Buddhist community, its monks easily turned into priests under the influence of Vajrayana ritualism. What Vajrayana started, Shaiva (a form of Hinduism) influence later one consolidated and hardened... On the same subject David Snellgrove writes: 

It is certainly an interesting problem how monks, who were once self-professed and presumably came from all classes of Newar society, and spiritual masters, who once owed their position to their personal knowledge and reputation, should have become an hereditary cast closed to the rest of society. This is something which had occurred in no other Buddhist country. 

Of all the Nepali people, Newars observe the greatest number of fetivals and feasts. They spend a great amount of money and food on such occasions, the food consisting of buffalo meat, beaten rice, vegetables, pickles, curd and large quantities of beer and spirit. They take great pride and pleasure in spending great amounts for good food for the large feasts, more so than for domestic or family needs. Even the Jyapus, who are mainly peasants of small to average means, spend heavily for feasts and festivities. 

The largest public festival in Kathmandu is Indra Jatra, which lasts for eight days in mid-Bhadra, usually coinciding with the end of September of the first week in October. At this time the people worship Indra, the God of rain, and a number of religious dances are performed by artists wearing most colorful dresses and headdresses representing various deities. They parade carts carrying Kumari, the "living goddess", and Ganesh and Bhairav, represented by a Bare girl and two Bare boys respectively, through the streets of Kathmandu city. Although the greater part of this festival is quite old, the rath jatra, or 'cart festival', is said to have begun in the year 1756 A.D., during the reign of King Jaya Prakash Malla. At that time a girl of Bare caste was said to have been possessed by the goddess Kumari, who claimed that she was the protector of the Nepal Valley. Ever since, a girl representing Kumari has been worshipped. A beautiful house with golden windows was built for her, and every year she was taken round the city at the time of Indra Jatra by her attendants Ganesh and Bhairav. Even today a virgin girl of Bare caste is chosen for the position and can keep her role until she sheds blood from a cut or by menstruation, and two boys of seven or eight years are chosen to be her escorts. These three children are put into their temple-like cart for the parade and the towns-people worship them with offerings of flowers and vermilion powder. 

Another equally important festival is Gai Jatra. All families in which one or more members died during the preceding year send decorated cows around the city. Those who cannot afford the actual cow may employ a small boy to wear colorful clothes and a basket covered with painted papers on his head to represent the cow. This is done to help the dead members of the family to enter the gates of heaven. Gai jatra occurs a month ahead of Indra Jatra. Morning sees the 'cows' through the city streets, and later in the afternoon some people come out in various costumes to act as clowns, criticizing or mimicking the social, political or individual peculiarities of the society or of certain officials and amuse the thousands of spectators gathered for the occasion along the streets. Lately the journalists of Kathmandu have begun to use the occasion in producing special gai jatra issues of some newspapers to the same effect. 

Rath jatra of Machhendranath in Patan and Kathmandu are occasions for thousands of people to enjoy the sight of forty-eight foot high carts being dragged through the narrow streets of the town. The observance in Patan city lasts for more than a month, beginning in May, while the cart is being dragged slowly on its way. At several points the procession stops for several days. When all is done at month's end, the brocade vest of the god Machhendranath is displayed from the balcony of the high cart to the thousands of people collected to see it at Jawalakhel where the festival terminates. 

Newars observe a number of other religious festivals, including Dashain and Tihar, celebrated by the majority of Nepali people throughout the country. Family occasions play an equally important role on a small scale and involve feasting and rituals often just a few days apart. 

Most of the Newar traders and merchants found settled in outlying districts, away form Kathmandu Valley, observe these same large and small religious occasions, though usually on a smaller and less elaborate scale. To be sure, they follow the pattern of ritual in all aspects of the religious life, from the pollution of birth to the cremation, mourning, and pollution of death. 

On all of these occasions the men and women are dressed smartly. Women of the Buddhist community are fond of gold ornaments in their ears, over the head, and around the neck. Modern young girls, however, do not wear the gold ornaments of the older generations. The woman's sari and blouse is either covered by a padded, quilted, material or by thin colored muslin in the form of a gown. The Indian style sari and blouse is becoming more and more popular among Newar women. School girls wear white trousers and a dress, with a fine scarf around the neck, reminiscent of the Punjabi Indian costume. Young men and boys wear European-style trousers and shirts, while the other generations still prefer the Nepali traditional dress. 

The dress of Jyapu men and women is an exception to general Newar costumes. They wear their own home-made garments from homespun cotton materials. The women have black saris with red bordering, their blouses are of finely woven cotton material, and huge waist bands of plain cotton complete the costume. The style of wearing the sari varies from the standard of other Newar communities. Furthermore, Jyapu women have tattoos on their calves and ankles, which are exposed while wearing the sari, and they ornament themselves with gold earrings and silver necklaces. 

Jyapu men wear the Nepali suit without the western suit jacket which is seen so often on other Nepali men. Instead, they wear a waist-band of plain white cotton material and a waistcoat of their own style, which is slightly different form the western one. 

The Jyapu woman is kept busy throughout the year because of her obligation to weave all the cotton material for family clothing requirements, in addition to her responsibilities in the family fields. 

Over the centuries the Newars have developed a purely urban mode of living. Even those who are strictly farmers or skilled artisans in support of the remaining population are town dwellers. 

Newar settlements in the cities of Kathmandu and Patan consist of enclosed quadrangles with lines of brick houses on all four sides supporting exquisitely carved wooden doors and windows. The quadrangles of the Buddhist baha communities invariably have a Buddhist shrine in the center and often a temple built into the line of houses along one side. Later on, the Hindu residential areas were also designed in the same manner. These quadrangle arrangements are simply known as chok, or 'courtyard.' The Hindu chok is comparatively and often does not include a temple. A baha or chok is usually inhabited by one patrilineal descent group of all castes and at all levels of society. But in present push for expansion of the towns, main roads, and shopping centers, the Newar residential areas are not following the tradition of a common partilineal locality. 

Newars were not as widespread as many other people until some time back. Adventure was apparently not attractive to them. However, during the last two hundred years Newars seem to have left their original home and settled down in distant districts to the west and east. But the style of living, the cultural traditions, and the occupations of trade and business have all been preserved intact even in those communities which are removed by weeks' journeys from their place of origin. It is quite common while traveling in rural Nepal to come across the small pockets of Newar culture in areas totally foreign to their traditional Kathmandu Valley environment. 

The unique feature of Newar social-economical organization is the presence of a great number of guthis, a kind of 'common trust' consisting mainly of cultivated lands as assets. The lands in the beginning were endowments of one or several families, but in the course of time they have become the property of the entire guthi membership. Most members are of a common descent group, but there are a few larger guthi which include several descent groups. 

Among Jyapu Newars most of the guthi lands are cultivated by the members themselves, but in the rest of the Newar communities the lands are leased out to tenants, who are obliged to pay their rent to a specially appointed guthi member. The man in charge of these rents is expected to conduct worship of the deity to whom the lands are dedicated and also to arrange one or more feasts for the entire membership group. These obligations are given to each member in rotation yearly or in some cases every second, third or fifth year. Most guthi land's net incomes are in excess of their requirements and are therefore profitable for the incumbent, but there are a few which can bring the person in charge of rents a considerable loss. 

Guthis are of three types: religious, public service, and social. Almost every Newar family is a member of a digu puja guthi, a religious guthi for worshipping the deity of an extended family. These guthis involve the membership of a common descent group, which gather to partake of the worship and feasts. There are a number of temples which also have guthi organizations responsible for their worship observances, and in these cases include membership from more than one caste or common descent group. 

Other guthis are organized specifically for cremating the dead, conducting funerals, and maintaining temples, rest houses, bridges, roads, and the like. Their membership is drawn from several extended family units of common residence, and not necessarily of common descent. Thus a service guthi might include members of several caste levels and different religious groups, as in the case of those charged with the maintenance of temples, rest houses or bridges, etc. 

For pure entertainment, fellowship, and activities of common interest, the social guthi is organized. It includes members of one common locality, although not necessarily of common descent or relationship by marriage. The membership of the religious and service guthis is compulsory and inherited, while the social guthi is a voluntary organization. 

Each guthi is a well-organized unit with strict rules and conditions of membership and activities. The senior most member is called thakali, the 'eldest'; he acts as chairman and maintains the discipline of the rest of the members, who are called guthiars. The guthi decides disputes arising between members and takes action against the offender or against those who act in defiance of the rules and regulations of the organization. A majority vote can levy fines or eve expel a member, depending upon the gravity of the crime. Common offences include bad manners, irregularity in attendance, failure to fulfill one's assigned role in the guthi, breach of ritual observance, breach of caste rules and inappropriate sexual behavior. 

All Newars except Jogis, the tailor caste, cremate their dead by the riverside; the Jogis bury their dead. Whenever a death occurs in any Newar family, all the members of that person's cremation guthi and all his relatives are immediately informed. Those few persons who do not have such guthis are joined only by their relatives. The dead person is not removed from the house until all are present; then a green bamboo bier is prepared and the corpse is transported on it to the burning ghat. The dead body is covered by a yellow or red satin shroud which is removed at the time of burning and kept for further cremations in the house of a guthi member. 

There is a strong tradition among most Newars, except chha-thare Shresthas, that the funeral procession should consist of as many individuals wailing and crying as possible. 

Mourning and pollution is observed by the next of kin for twelve days and for an entire year by the son. The rules and abstentions are similar to those of Brahmans and Chhetris. 


Nepal Bhasa - The Newar Language 

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

Literature Extant

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

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

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

Newar Lipi

Different types of Newar Lipis

Nepal Script which can be taken as Nepal's original script on the way of script development. Ashokan Brahmi Script is the oldest script found in SAARC countries. AS well as  Ashokan Script as king Ashoka spread this script in many places. Ashokan inscription in the Brahmi Script of 255 B.C. in pillar of Niglihawa of Kapilbastu district is the oldest one found in Nepal which roughly translates as-"king Piyadasi beloved of the gods, after 14 years of his coronation enlarged for the second time the stupa of Buddha Kanaka Muni, & after 20 years of his coronation he came himself & worshipped (&) he caused (this) stone pillar to be erected." 

Gupta Script was developed in early Lichhivi period. It was in use from 4th to 7th century. Gupta Script and Kutila script are now named Pro Lichhivi script and Post Lichhivi script as decided by HMG, Archeology & culture dept. Different forms of are seen in different places such as in Devanagar (Patna), Bengal, Mithila, Kashmir, Nepal etc., and different name were given according to the cradles. 

On the way of Script development Primary Nepal script was developed in 9th century, from Kutila script. Nepal script was developed in 10th century. Sharad Kasah, a well known epigraphist notes popular Nepal script (Prachalit lipi), Ranjana, Golmol, Bhujinmol, Pachumol, Kunmol, Kwenmol, Hinmol and Litumol- these 9 types of Scripts can be taken as Nepal's own script i.e. Nepal script. Among these, popular Nepal script was most widely used script which is in use till today (i.e. from 9th to 21st century). This script is more or less similar to Devanagari Script because both were developed from Brahmi script. 

Ranjana (Calligraphy) is artistic script. It is also considered as holy script, which developed in 11th century. This script is spread in many countries like India, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Japan etc., specially in Buddhist monasteries. It has thick & thin attractive lining. Thick lined script can mark the paper for longer duration. This script is considered as world's 2nd most beautiful & artistic script. Kutaksyar is a way of writing Ranjana script especially in writing mantras, slogans etc, which, unlike others, runs from up to down. 

It is worthwhile noting that scripts are not always related to the particular language. Though many inscriptions and manuscript are found written in Nepal Bhasa, Nepal script was most widely used to write Sanskrit language than Nepal Bhasa. Nepal script was also used to write Maithali language. A few years ago, a book 'Tarka Bitarka' by Nagendra Sharma has been published in Nepali Language in Nepal script. Brahmi script is parallelly related to Pali and Sanskrit. Today including Nepali, other languages : Hindi, Nepal Bhasa, Tamang, Maithali, for instance, are written in Devanagari. Even English we write is in Roman script. So, Nepal script does not belong to particular language or caste. It is the universal script of Nepal. 

Type of Newar Dances

Mask Dances

Mahakali Dance

This is one of the most popular masked dances of the Newars. It is based on the religious story from a Hindu Puran Called 'Mahakali Mahalaxmi'. According to this , the three goddess Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, and Kumari (three of the eight deities that protect the eight directions of Kathmandu Valley and have different ghost followers. These mother goddesses were practiced by Eighty four sidhhas to gain mystic power) came down to heaven to vanquish the demons who spread great misery and hardship among human beings. So the almighty Goddesses waged a great war with the demons and defeated them, thus stabilizing peace and order on earth. This dance shows the great joy and happiness after the great victory over the demons. Religious Mahakali Dance festival is celebrated in Madhyapur Thimi in the next evening of Gaijatra. The dance is performed in Chapacho, Balkumari, Lokanthalee, Nagadesh of Thimi for four days. The dances of Maha-Kali, Maha-Laxmi, Kumari, Sinha, Byata, Ghost, Bhairab, Kwan, Khyak and Maka is performed while celebrating this festival. The dance was initiated in the time immemorial to escape the Ghost and Pisach from Thimi.

Lakhey dance

This is one of the classical dance of Nepal. Once in a year during the festival of Indrajatra which is celebrated for nearly a week during the end of September or first part of October. Almost all the settlements of Newar have Lakhey dance at least once a year. Almost all of these Lakhey dances are held in the Goonlaa month. So, they are called Goonlaa Lakhey. However, the most famous Lakhey dance is the Majipa Lakhey dance. It is performed by the Ranjitkars of Kathmandu. The dance takes place for a week during the week containing the full moon of Yenlaa month. The Lakhey are considered as the saviors of children..
According to people's belief, Lakhey are man eating demons living in the dense forest. They hunt animals and people passing through the jungle. Whenever they have a good meal they dance with jog. Previously Lakhey dancers used to select victims for human blood sacrifices.

Monkey dance

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

Khyak Dance 

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

Kawan (Skeleton) Dance 

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

Devi Daitya Sangram (The battle of Goddess and Demon)

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

Folk Dances

Jyapu- Jyapuni (Dhimey) Dance

This farmer's pair dance is generally performed during the harvest season in their community get together along with lively music and songs.

Indra Apsara (Nymph) Dance

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

Lusi (Pestle) Dance

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

Charya Dances


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


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

Pancha Buddha

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

Rakta Ganesh 

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

Arya Tara

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