Home Culture Newari culture & cuisine attracting tourists
September 15, 2019

Newari culture & cuisine attracting tourists

  • Sushant Lama
Newari women in traditional attire
Newari women in traditional attires

Nepal is a small country yet rich in natural beauties, cultures, and traditions. There are around 125 different ethnic groups, and more than 123 different languages. One of the most beautiful cultures of Nepal is Newari Culture.

It belongs to Newari people and many tourists come to visit Nepal to learn about their unique culture, traditions and living styles.

Newar is one of the dominant ethnic group of Nepal and an indigenous group of Kathmandu Valley. There was one time when they used to make an entire population of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur before Prithivi Narayan Shah invaded in 1769 A.D and a still large number of Newari peoples resides in these districts. Now, Newari people are scattered all around the country.

Lakhe dance
Lakhe dance: Photo-Rajendra Ghinanju Shrestha

Newari is the sixth-largest ethnicity in Nepal. They are a mix of Indo-Aryan and Tibeto-Burman communities. It is said that Indo-Aryan groups came from India and infiltrated into the existing Tibeto-Burman culture but their original culture survived.

The origins of Newari ethnicity are still unknown yet there are lots of theories regarding this. Newari culture is very big consisting of many castes with different cultures, traditions, and values. Newars are divided into various clans or groups based on their ancient hereditary occupations. Although it was first introduced in the time of the Licchavis, its present shape was formed during the medieval Malla period.


Newari people speak their own language called “Nepal Bhasa” or commonly known as the Newari language. Newari language belongs to Sino-Tibetan languages but it is mostly influenced by Indo-Aryan languages like Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Maithali.

Many Newar communities within Nepal also speak their own dialects of Nepal Bhasa. They have their own script called Nepal Bhasa script which was developed from Brahmi script. Among different scripts, Ranjana, Bhujinmol, and prachalit are the most common. Nepal script is also called as Nepal Lipi and Nepal Akhala.


Newari damsel

Trade, Industry, and Agriculture are the main occupations of Newari peoples. Initially, Newars were primarily farmers and traders as the Kathmandu valley had fertile land suitable for cultivation and trade between India and Nepal was good.

Their professions are mostly the heredity profession which is being passed down from generation to generation. Merchants, craftsmen, artists, potters, weavers, dyers, jewelry makers, and shopkeepers are some of their hereditary professions. But now due to modernization, they are involved in modern industry, business, and service sectors.


Newars follow both Hinduism and Buddhism. Since the original cultures were a mix of Indo-Aryan (predominantly Hindu) and Tibeto-Burman (predominantly Buddhist), both religions survived and present-day culture was formed.

According to the 2001 Nepal Census, 84.13% of Newars were Hindus and 15.31% Buddhist. Patan has the most number of Buddhist Newars and we can see lots of stupas built by Ashoka the Indian Emperor.

Bhaktapur has Primarily Hindu Newars and Kathmandu is the mix of both Buddhist and Hindu Newars. Generally, both Hindu and Buddhist deities are worshiped by them and festivals of both religions are celebrated by both groups. However, they have their cultural difference.

The most important shrines in the Valley are Swayambhunath for Buddhist Newars and Pashupatinath for Hindu Newars. Different castes have different deities and worship in different occasions.

Culture and traditions

Indra Jatra (living goddess Kumari being carried away)

Their cultures and traditions are what attracts tourists the most. Newar is very rich in culture and traditions and they have unique living styles. They have many customs that are to be performed from birth to death. They have their distinct way of celebrating festivals, conducting marriage ceremony and performing funerals.

They have a marriage ritual called Bel bibaha (Ihi) in which pre-adolescent girls are married to the Bel fruit (wood apple), which is the symbol of the Lord Vishnu to ensure that the girl becomes and remains fertile.

It’s their one unique ceremony. Mha puja, Shree Panchami, Sakimela Punhi, Swati, and Gunhi Punhi are some of their important festivals.

They celebrate different festivals, customs, and Jatras with joy. Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra, Bisket Jatra are some of their major fair which attracts lots of tourist in the country.

Newari Cuisine

Newari cuisine-Yomari
Newari cuisine-Yomari

Newari Cuisine is another thing for which tourists die for. There are lots of Newari delicacies that are popular not only in Nepal but throughout the world.

Newari foods have been must try things while in Nepal. It includes a variety of foods. Yomari made during Yomari Punhi is loved by all.

Newari food
Newari food

Alu Tama (curry made of potatoes and bamboo shoots), Hakuchoila (spiced ground meat), Juju Dhau (Delicious curd made in Bhaktapur), Momo (Meat dumplings), Chatamari (rice pancake), Dheedo (a porridge-like substance made from maize and wheat), Gundruk (dried leafy green vegetables), Sinki (pickle of fermented root parts of carrot), etc are some of the Newari delicacies liked by most of the tourists.

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