Nepalese Customs, Cultures, Rituals and Traditions by 10 Castes of Nepal
Despite its small size, Nepal is very rich in natural and cultural diversities. As many as 125 castes of people live there. Most of them have their own languages, costumes, social practices and religions. In spite of these differences, they make a common culture -the Nepali culture.
However, they have not given up their social traditions, practices, and ceremonies. We are going to study the social customs of some major castes in Nepal.
Kshetris and Brahmins
The Kshetris and the Brahmins live originally in the hills and Terai. According to the census of 2011, they occupy nearly 17% and 13% of the total population respectively. Mostly they follow the Hindu traditions and perform a number of religious and social functions. When a baby is born, the name-giving ceremony (Nwaran) is performed on the eleventh day.
If the child is a son, another ceremony known as ‘Bratabandha’ takes place generally between 8 and 15 years of age. In this ceremony, the boy is given a sacred thread (Janai) after some religious rites. Marriage is also an important social custom that includes a special ritual process.
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Generally, the marriage is an arranged one but love marriage is also gradually spreading in our times. Dowry system in the marriage of this caste in the Terai is turning an evil. Festivals like Dashain, Tihar, Teej, Janai Purnima, Ramnawami, Krishnajanmastami, and Nagpanchami are celebrated with a high zeal. The corpse is cremated according to the Hindu tradition. Funeral ceremony is observed for 13 days. Some observe an extended mourning for a year. Every year ‘shraddha1 is also performed for the peace of the departed soul.
The Magars occupy the third position (over 7%) after Kshetris and Brahmins in] the population of Nepal. Mostly they live in some hilly districts such as Rolpa, Pyuthan, Myagdi, Palpa,Tanahun, Arghakhanchi, Syangja, Parbat, Sindhuli, Baglung and Surkhet. The name giving ceremony in this caste is solemnized from 11 to 15 days of the baby’s birth. Besides arranged marriage and love marriage, jari marriage is still found in some communities. They give priority to the marriage of a boy with his maternal uncle’s daughter. Funeral ceremony is performed within 11 to 13 days. Along with the common Hindu festivals like Dashain and Tihar, the Magars perform ‘Kaura Naach’ and ‘Nag Puja’.
The Tharus also occupy nearly 7% of the total population of Nepal. They live mostly in the western and central Terai. They are very simple-minded. They celebrate the name-giving ceremony from the sixth day to the ninth day of the baby’s birth. There are three types of marriage in practice: arranged, love and jari. The corpse is either burnt or buried. Maghi and Phagu are their important festivals. Maghi is observed on Magh 1 as the New Year’s Day. They are fond of dances like Jhumara, Jatjatin, and Gopichan.
Nearly 6% of the total population of Nepal is occupied by the Tamangs. They inhabit the hilly regions mainly around the Kathmandu Valley. If the baby is a son, they organize the name-giving ceremony after three days. Mainly three types of marriage -arranged, love and chori/jari (taking away another’s wife by paying some money) are in practice. They bury the dead body. They perform funeral rites for three days and it is called ‘Ghewa’. The Tamangs are either Buddhists or Hindus. Lhosarand Buddha Jayanti is their main festivals.
About 5% people in Nepal are Newars who live mainly in the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara and several other towns of the country. They have preserved a very rich culture. There is seldom a month when a Newar festival does not take place. The Newars are divided into two branches -Hindus and Buddhists. They also celebrate the name giving ceremony and marriage ceremony. ‘Nwaran1 is performed within 4 to 11 days of the baby’s birth. Before marriage, ‘lhi’ (Belvivah) of the girls is performed. Arranged marriage and love marriage are prevalent. Rites of a dead person are performed according to their religious traditions. They are very fond of song and dance. The Newars celebrate their festivals extravagantly. Dashain, Tihar, Mhapuja, Indrajatra, etc. are their important festivals.