Newa Beauty is well-known around the world. Although the skin is brown rather than white, it captures the attention of those who crave it.
How and why do they have such lovely skin? Have you ever pondered it? Is it the weather or the ideal temperature of their surroundings? Partially, yes, but I’m talking about the unseen side of Newas’ efforts that they do to maintain their clan’s beauty as ever.
The secret that they have been holding behind is called “Kon.” Kon is a traditional face and body scrub used by Newa people (females) to keep them beautiful. It is a multipurpose scrub that cleans and moisturizes the skin, resulting in flawless and soft skin.
Kon is the secret of the Newa household, which has been kept within by newars for these entire years. It is made from edible, natural ingredients that can be found readily in each household’s kitchen in the Newa Community.
Kon and its traditions have been around for a long time as an alternative to soap.
I assure you that it is superior to soap and any other chemical-laden beauty product. The use of just one portion of Kon could leave its essence on your skin for four to five days.
Kon is typically made by blending a variety of ingredients, including mustard seed, rice bran, rice powder, occasionally orange peels, and other herbs that are good for soothing the skin. It takes a long time to produce because these ingredients must first be dried before being beaten into finely powdered debris.
Cultural significance of Kon
Kon, sometimes called Konla is not prepared every day. In the Newa household, it had some cultural and traditional significance. Making and using Konla has some cultural significance because everything in the Newa house is tied to tradition.
Kon is prepared during the traditional ritual called the “Barha ceremony”. The Barha ceremony is the ceremony of girls marrying the God Sun when they reach the age of puberty. This ceremony is a long process that takes 12 days. On the 6th day of the Barha, Konla is prepared and made available for every visitor to use.
During the long isolation period of Barha, Konla helps to keep a girl occupied in beautifying herself by applying konla on her face. It kills boredom, and additionally, the application of Konla has no boundaries. A girl can apply konla as much as she likes in an entire day.
Each time a new visitor visits the Barha girl, she kind of offers to apply konla out of courtesy.
During the period of Barha, a girl is not allowed to go outside and use any external product like soap, so Kon is used. There is also this general belief that a girl should not get any sort of injuries during Barha. Hence, they should be more careful about chemical products and things that could lead them to any sort of physical harm.
However, during Barha, no men are allowed to enter the room, for the girl is kept out of sight from every man and even the sun during the entire process (for 12 days).
Also, there is a belief that no man should apply this to his face or he will be left with no beard or mustache. And that definitely won’t look very manly, at least in Nepalese society.
Konla, which is beaten up into a fine powder, is not used directly on the face. It is mixed with some mustard oil or pure water to make a paste, which is then applied to the skin gently.
The applied paste is then scrubbed to and fro in various circular motions until every bit of konla is peeled off from the skin. It pulls all the dirt from the skin.
Not just the face, it can be scrubbed in every part of the body, e.g., legs, toes, and arms. Unlike other beauty scrubs, it might look gross, but don’t go by how it looks. Your skin will love it. That’s why Konla is used by “bride-to-be” to build up confidence, fairness, and beauty.
The fragrance Konla has is not pleasant for everyone’s nose. It has no flowery scent, but it gives you the typical Newa vibes.
Kon gently moisturizes the skin, making it brighter and fairer. It exfoliates the skin to counteract the loss of natural glow and also protects the skin from burns.
Although kon, in the everyday life of a Newa girl, has been replaced by complicated branded beauty products, some improvised forms of konla have been commercialized. Some small business companies have begun preparing the products so that the world can recognize the true essence of Newa’s beauty and simplicity behind it.
*It actually doesn’t make sense yet, ‘n’ over here in ‘Kon’ is kind of silent. We use a sort of nasal tone to pronounce kon or just ko.