The Nepalese People
Perched high atop the Himalayas, Nepal claims 8 of the world's 10 highest peaks. It borders China and India, and is on UN's list of "least-developed countries" (marked by poverty, human resource weakness, and economic vulnerability). Nepal has recently transitioned from a monarchy to a republic after a civil war and is currently in political deadlock, stating that "one of the main obstacles has been disagreement over whether the states which will be created will be based on ethnicity" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepal). Nepal was the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Pop. ~28 million; Capital city: Katmandu;
LANGUAGE: Nepali (44.6%); Maithili (11.7%); 123 different dialects from Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, and indigenous roots!
FAITH/RELIGION: Hindu (80.6%); Buddhist (11%) *many followers of Hinduism and Buddhism practice syncretism with various forms of animism; Islam, Kirant, and Christianity practiced minimally.
CULTURE/ART: Autumn festival of Dashain, where victory over demons is celebrated; dancing and music both popular as well as special food and drink; see below for some Nepalese specialties:
"Paubha is a traditional
religious painting made by the Newar people of Nepal. Paubhas depict
deities, mandalas or monuments,
and are used to help the practitioner meditate. The Tibetan equivalent is known as Thangka.
"Most paubhas show Buddhist subjects, but a few have Hindu themes. The paintings are made to earn
religious merit both for the artist and the patron. Newar Buddhists commission
artists to paint paubhas which are displayed during festivals and other special
occasions. The traditional painters of paubhas are the Chitrakar caste who are known as Pun in Nepal Bhasa." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paubha)
"The Newars are the creators of most examples of art and
architecture in Nepal. Traditional Newar art is basically
religious art. From as early as the seventh century, visitors have noted the
skill of Newar artists and craftsmen who left their influence on the art of
Tibet and China.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newar_people)
"Sitala Maju" is a traditional Nepalese song based on
an historical event, and recounts the expulsion of children from the Kathmandu Valley by the king who feared they would
spread smallpox. Written by an anonymous composer, the
lament in Nepal Bhasa dates from the
early 19th century.
Look at the plight of the people, Mother Sitala.
It has never been heard of nor seen, but
children cannot be kept in the country, The king has ordered it.
With drummers beating drums and soldiers surrounding them, The
children were expelled.
Carrying pounded rice under their arms
and their children on their backs, The people had to go across the Tama Koshi
They went away carrying one child on their back, one on their
hips, And dragging another one behind them.
They departed from Kathmandu, spent the night at Bhaktapur, And visited the shrine of Mother
They departed from Bhaktapur, spent the night at Banepa, And visited the shrine of Chandeshwari.
They departed from Banepa, spent the
night at Palanchok, And visited the shrine of Bhagavati.
They departed from Palanchok, spent the night at Dolaghat, And visited the shrine of Bhimsen.
They departed from Dolaghat, spent the
night at Tama Koshi, They had to go across the Tama Koshi River.
They departed from Dolakha, reached the other side of the Tama
Koshi River, And visited the shrine of Mahadev.
There is no food to eat, there are no
clothes to wear, And there is no place for me to stay.
It was not a whip, it was not a cane, they were beaten with
stinging nettles, By soldiers who surrounded them and drove them forward.
We beg Mother Kachhala who gives smallpox
blisters, Mother Sitala who fills them with water, Mother Bachhala who takes
If this child lives, we will release a pair of pigeons, We will
offer jasmine flowers of gold and silver.
At a place where no sunlight fell, the
child died of cold, The mother and father beat their breasts and cried.
It is not allowed to cremate the dead child or to bury him, What
great suffering of the people.
The father held half of the child's body,
the mother held half of the child's body, And they threw it into the Tama Koshi
The king had no compassion and ordered the children to be
expelled, They had to go across the Tama Koshi River.
King of Nepal, Rana Bahadur, The people
Don't, don't, Mother Sitala, I beg you a thousand times, Please
deliver the people.