About NewarI peoplE
The Newa are the indigenous people and the creators of the historical civilization of Nepal's kathmandu valley. The valley and surrounding territory have been known from ancient times as Nepal Mandala, its limits ever changing through history.Newars have lived in the Kathmandu Valley since prehistoric times, and immigrants that arrived at different periods in its history eventually merged with the local population by adopting their language and customs.
Newars are a linguistic and cultural community of mostly Tibeto-Burman and some IndoAryan ethnicities. They are bound together by a common language and culture.Their common language is Nepal Bhasa ("Newari" according to Statistics Nepal) or the linguistic progenitor of that language. Scholars have also described the Newars as being a nation.
According to Nepal's 2001 census, the 1,245,232 Newars in the country are the nation's sixth largest ethnic group, representing 5.48% of the population. In 2001, there were approximately 825,000 native speakers of Nepal Bhasa. Many Newar communities within Nepal also speak their own dialects of Nepal Bhasa, such as the Dolakha Newar Language. Nepal Bhasa is of Tibeto-Burman origin but has been heavily influenced by land-Aryan languages like Sanskrit,pali,Bengali and Maithali.People living in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. They make up about half the population of the valley. Most are Hindu, but some practice an Indian form of Buddhism. The Newar have a wide range of occupations; they have traditionally been noted as architects and artisans, the builders of the famous temples and shrines of Kathmandu. Painting and sculpture flourished among them in the 10th–16th centuries. The Newar population of Nepal is estimated to be about 540,000
a people inhabiting the valley of Katmandu in Nepal; some Newar live in urban areas in the eastern and western parts of the country. Population in Nepal, about 550,000 (1971, estimate). Small groups have also settled in India. The language of the Newar is Newari (Nepal Bhasa); it is used for literature and newspapers. A considerable number of Newar also speak Nepali. Buddhism, the religion of the Newar, has been strongly influenced by Hinduism. The Newar are the descendants of the ancient population of Nepal. In the Middle Ages they formed several feudal principalities. Their main occupations are land cultivation and livestock raising. Various handicrafts are well developed; the Newar are widely known for their jewelry.
About Newari people
Ihi or Bel Bibaha
Normally Newar girls are married thrice in their lives. The first marriage is called “Ihi (Newari) or “Bel sanga bibaha” (Nepali). And then they are married to the Sun which is called “Bara Tayegu” (Newari) or “Gufa Rakhne” (Nepali). When they get into human conjugal relationship its actually their marriage. These marriage ceremonies are conducted both among Buddhist Newars and Hindu Newars.
Ihi or pre-puberty rite among Newars:
Before Newar girls reach their puberty they are married to the fruit of wood-apple tree called Bel. It is performed at the girl’s odd age like 5, 7, 9 before they starit menstruation. Ihi is a two-day ceremony commencing with purification rituals and ending with “Kanyadan” of the girl by her father meaning “giving away the virgin”. This Kanyadan ceremony performed in Non-Newar Hindu marriage. So Ihi could actually be taken as the first marriage of the Newar girls except for that they are married to an icon of Suvarna Kumar, the immortal God.
Ihi is regarded a very sacred Newari ritual and it’s a must for all Newar girls. The ceremony is conducted by Priest called “Gubhaju” for Buddhist Newars and “Deobhaju” for Hindu Newars. The rite is held whenever sponsors are prepared to meet the considerable expenses. Though a member of girls are always jointly initiated, the scale can vary from just a few closely related members of the same caste to as many as three or four hundred drawn from a wide range of castes. Ihi is often held in conjunction with other ceremony, such as old age ceremony.
The first day of the Ihi is called dusala Kriya. On this day, the girls prepare at home with the purification bath and dress in new cloths and put on ornaments. The girls then assemble at previously purified courtyard accompanied by a senior woman of the father lineage. They all sit in a neat line around the edge of the courtyard. And then for the next couple of hours the priest, with the help of his wife, takes the girls through a sequences of ritual actions of purification.
The main event takes place on the second day. Once again girls assemble in the courtyard. Now the girls are dressed elaborately in glittering bridal suit comprising of ankle length skirt, blouse and shawl. They put on more ornaments and red tika on their foreheads to give bridal look. The day begins with the purification rituals and proceeds to Kanyadan. The father gives the girl’s to Suvarna Kumar Kanyadan concludes with the giving of a set of clothes owrn by married women to girl by her parents.
Ihi is performed to save from various dangers, in particular the possibility of attack from malicious spirits. But by far the most commonly given reason is to protect the girl from the awful stigma of widowhood. Ihi links the girl in an eternal marriage with a god. Therefore the death of a mortal human spouse cannot deprive her of her married status thus freeing her from the custom of having to burn on one’s husband’s funeral pyre which was prevalent among Hindu communities a few centuries ago. Ihi rite also enforces the right of the widow’s remarriage in the Newar Community, thus liberating the women form Hindu orthodox viewpoint of one life one marriage system. Though the original rite seems to have been lost with the cultural invasion in the valley, Ihi is still performed among Newars with compulsion.