Life time ceremonies of Newa people

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Nepal, surely pop-ups as a mysterious country when it comes to talking about the distinctive types of culture including the lifetime ceremonies. These ceremonies roam up around upon a single person’s life from birth till death, actually even after the death. These are called shora sanskar karma which indicates the 16 rites in Hindu and Buddhist religions.

However, people today perform only 10 rituals out of 16. But they are compulsory in one’s life. Since newar people are bind within the Hindu and Buddhist religions, they also perform these rites. But, in exceptional ways. The most likely known ceremonies from the birth of a child in the newar community are like this:

Naamkaran

The very first rite performed in anyone’s life is the Naam Karan (giving a name to the newborn baby). In the local term, it is called the Nwaran ceremony. This is a ceremony of cleping of a newborn baby which generally is held on the sixth day of the birth of a baby.

Annaprasan

Annaprasan is the ritual of rice feeding. Somehow, there is a distinctive canon for a boy and a girl to be fed. A baby boy must have this ritual at the age of six or eight months. Whereas, a baby girl should do this ritual in the fifth or seventh month. The local name of this ceremony is Macha Janku.

Chudakarma ceremony

Popularly known as bratabandha in Nepalese society, Chudakarma is an important rite of the male Newars. They call this loin-cloth and head-shaving ceremony Kaeta Puja. People are performing this tradition for thousands of years with religious affiliation.

To perform this rite, boys should be five to thirteen years old according to the Newari culture. While other communities have no age limit to do this ceremony.

Buddhist chudakarma ritual

By some means, Buddhist Newars like Gubhāju-Baré (Bajracharya-Shakya), Urāy, Jyapu, and Chitrakār perform their Pravrajyā and Chudākarma ceremony in a unique way. By sending their lads to vihar and Buddhist monasteries for three days to live a life like a monk. Abandoning all the material pleasures.

They made their child attain monkshood and nirvana by mimicking Gautama Buddha’s ascetic and mooching way of life. 

On the very fourth day of the ceremony, they returned to their home. And henceforward became a responsible householder.

The clan of Buddhist priest Gubhāju-Baré (Bajracharya and Shakya) goes through an additional initiation ceremony. The ceremony is called Bare Chuyegu (becoming a Baré) where categorically Bajracharya boys go through Acharya Abhisheka. This event is considered as a Tantric in grace rite that qualifies a Bajracharya to become a priest.

Hindu chudakarma ritual

On the other hand, Hindu Newars perform this ceremony as a ritual of the first stage among the four stages of life. In which, the young boy again abandons his family for the celibate religious life.

This event also brought a ton of change to his life. For the first time, his head would be fully shaved except a tuft left at the top. Afterwards, he must shave his head like that when someone from his clan or family passes away. Well, talking back to the ceremony, he must don yellow/orange robes of the mendicant and beg rice from his relatives.

And act as if he is preparing to wander out into the world. This symbolic act fulfilled the ascetic ideal so that he is now called a responsible family member.

Due to the caste culture, Rajopādhyāyas and Chatharīyas additionally perform the Upanayana initiation. There the boy receives a sacred thread along with a Vedic mantra called Gāyatrī mantra and Shiva mantra respectively. Which after, the boy is said to be fully inducted into his caste status as a Dvija with the obligation to observe all commensal rituals.

Ihi ceremony

The Ihi ceremony becomes the most memorable moment for a Newari girl if she manages to remember it. Since this ritual is done within the age of five to nine years old, it is hard to remember for small girls.

This is a very unique culture of newar people where they manage to arrange a marriage of their children to lord Vishnu. Yes, you can call this a myth or a fact but a girl is married to a fruit named bael in this event.

The bael or the wooden apple, which is also assumed as a figure of the Lord Vishnu had a peculiar quality of not getting rotten and remaining fresh forever. Thus, if haphazardly, even the girl’s husband dies later in the future, she is not considered a widow because she is also married to Vishnu, who stands alive always and forever.

This two days long ceremony holds a marriage ritual henceforth, you can see in a typical Newari marriage there is no need to go to the bride’s house for the groom. Since all the rituals are already performed in the ihi ceremony. At last but not least, the “Ihi” short form of “Ihipaa” means a marriage.

Bahra

Bahra tayegu or bahra choyegu is another tradition of the newar community. These rites again process the marriage of a girl to the sun. And of course, before the menstruation of girls. Somehow, they choose the odd age number to do this ceremony. This is the second marriage of a Newari girl, which marks turning a girl into a fertile woman.

Startup of bahra

Traditionally, the process of bahra starts with a pooja conducted by the eldest women of the house. There, samyabji is offered to the sun god. Thereafter, the girl is sent into a dark room for the next 12 days with a friend or a female member of the family, where she is not allowed to meet nor see any male members of the family.

She is not even allowed to see the sunlight. The bahra means gufa. That’s why many people prefer saying gufa to this rite.

What’s next?

During the gufa, many female relatives visit her and bring the delicacy of foods.

The girls are given a traditional Newari facial called khwao which is made of rice flour, roasted fenugreek flour, sandalwood, and other herbs to make them more beautiful.

On the 13th day, the girl is dressed up as a bride with makeup, traditional newa jewellery, and a traditional wedding dress. All the relatives and neighbourhood get together to see the charm of the girl and finally, the ritual starts with the order of the priest. A gradual party is held by the family after the completion of the rite.

Here, check out the traditional Newa wear too.

Unfortunately, if any girl dies within the periods of the gufa, she is buried under the house where she died. It is done due to the belief that the body of that girl should not see the sun.

A newer movie named “Barasi” detailly has shown the life of a girl processing the gufa and how she dies within that period. Well, it is a horror movie. 

Vivaha

Vivaha means marriage. A common ritual where the bride abandons her family and adopts her husband’s name and family. In a Newari culture too, almost every ritual is as same as in other communities. But there is no need to go to the bride’s house for the groom.

For this reason, as already explained in the Ihi ceremony. But today, the groom also went with the janti for the marriage. 

This community does not allow marriage with cross-cousin and parallel-cousin. Traditionally, parents and go-betweens arrange the marriage. But today, we can see more love marriages than arranged marriages.

This rite seems more important to both the boy and the girl. In the girls’ case, she must have the Ihi and Bahra ceremony before their marriage and Bratabandha for the boys.  

Jankwo

Jankwo or Janku is an old-age celebration. Normally, when a person reaches the age of 77 years, seven months, seven days, seven hours, seven minutes, and seven-quarter, they celebrate their Jankwo. Besides this, three more Janku ceremonies are consequently celebrated at the age of 83, 88, and 99.

Auspiciously, people call the very first Janwa “Bhimratharohan”. Likewise, the second one is “Chandrarat Rohan”, the third one is “Devaratharohan”, and last but not the least, the fourth one is “Divyaratharohan”. 

Sagun ceremony

This is a very common ceremony or an act done in every family of the newar community. In special or auspicious moments of life like birthdays, weddings, long journeys, return safely from the journey or any kind of accidents, Sagun is given. This shagun ceremony is incomplete without eggs and yoghurt (JuJu Dhau). 

You can also check out how exactly the famous Juju dhau of Bhaktapur is made?

Death ceremony

The last but not the least ceremony left in newar society is the death ceremonies. All the Newars except the Laakumi and Jogi caste, cremate their dead bodies. According to the myth, the crow and the dogs are the ancestors as well as the god of death. That’s why people offered offerings to them during the funeral. 

Subsequently, people conduct offerings and rituals within four, seven, eight, 13, and 45 days following the death. The ceremony that annually occurs is shradh. The sons or the husband or wife of the dead one, wear white garments for a year and avoid eating things like yoghurt.

FAQs

Yes, they do. Though they do not perform it in its traditional way, they do practice it.

We are not sure about the death ceremony, Besides that, you could take participate in every other ceremony.

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