Nepal @ About Country
The Republican of Nepal covers an area of 147, 181 square kilometers, and stretches 145-241 kilometers north to south and 850 kilometers west to east. The country is located between India in the south and China in the north. At latitudes 26 and 30 degrees north and longitudes 80 and 88 degrees east, Nepal is topographically divided into three regions: the Himalaya to the north, the hills consisting of the Mahabharat range and the Churia Hills in the middle, and the Terai to the south. Elevations are varied in the kingdom. The highest point is Mt. Everest (8848m) in the north and the lowest point (70 meters above sea level) is located at Kechana Kalan of Jhapa District. Altitude increases as you travel south to north. To the north temperatures are below-40 degrees Celsius and in the Terai, temperatures rise to 40 degrees Celsius in the summer. During June, July and August, the Republican is influenced by monsoon clouds.
The Himalayan range makes up the northern border of the country and represents 16% of the total land area of Nepal. Peaks like Mt. Everest (8848m), Kanchanjunga (8598m), and Dhaulagiri (8137m) are found here and sparse vegetation is found up to 4,500m. Some of Nepals' most beautiful animal and plant life are also found here. Although rare, the snow leopard and Danphe bird are much talked-about sights among visitors. The people in this region produce and sell cheese besides working as porters and guides. Many also trade with Tibet and travel across the border to sell their goods.
This region covers 65% of the total land area of the country. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal is located here. Elevations range from 500 to 3,000m above sea level. During summer the temperature reaches an average of 32 degrees Celsius. Winters are cold, temperature sometimes, reaches-1 degree Celsius. Areas in the eastern hills receive more rainfall because of the monsoon clouds which come from the south-east. The rivers in the west which do not receive much rainfall are dependent upon the melted snow that flow down the Himalaya. Wild animals to be found here are the spotted leopard, barking deer, and Himalayan black bear. The hilly region is also popular for different kinds of birds. Over four hundred species of birds are found here. The people in this region have gained from the growth in the tourism industry. The people here work as trekking guides and porters and also sell garments and carpets to add to their income.
The Terai covers 17% of the total land area of Nepal. It provides excellent farming land and the average elevation of flatlands is 100 to 300 m above sea-level. In the sub-tropical forest areas of Terai are found, marshes and wildlife which include the Royal Bengal Tiger, one horned rhino, and the gharial crocodile etc. After the eradication of malaria in the 1960s, many people migrated to the Terai in search of farming land. Today, about 48% of the countrys' population occupy this region. Flat farmlands and the regions' flexible topography have given rise to many industries. The main industrial towns are Biratnagar, Butwal, Bhairahawa, Birgunj and Janakpur, Calcutta, a metropolitan city in India is the closest sea-port. It lies 1,000 kilometers away from Birgunj.
The Northern Himalayan People
In the middle hills and valleys, there coexist numerous ethnic groups. Among them are the Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Sunuwars, Newars, Thakalis, Chepangs and majority of Brahmans and Chhetris. The Brahmans and Chhetris have long dominance in the pervading social, religious and political realms. There are also some occupational castes e.g. the Damai (tailor), Sarki(Cobbler), Kami (Blacksmith) and Sunar (Goldsmiths). Though, there exists numerous dialects, the language of unification is the national language, Nepali and Indo-Aryan language.
Ethnic Diversity in the Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley represents a culture cauldron of the country. The people from different stereotypes, come together, presents traveler a unique melting pot of cultures. Kathmandu is predominantly inhabited by the Newars. These people have managed to integrate both Hinduism and Buddhism to such an exceptional extent that their culture has developed into a unique one. Today many Newars are traders. Newar families, who had resided in the valley for centuries, had also traveled across the country to develop trade.
The Terai People
The main ethnic groups in Terai region include the tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi and other populace which have roots in India. They speak different north Indian dialects- Maithili, Bhojpuri etc. The fertile plain to Terai, generally known as "grainary of Nepal" has great agricultural value. Most of the inhabitants live on agriculture. There are, however, some occupational castes e.g. Majhi (Fisherman), Kumhal (Potter) and Danuwar (Cart Driver).
Ethnic Structure The Sherpas
The most famous among the Himalayan people are the Sherpas. Because of their impeccable mountaineering skills, they are and dispensable part of mountain expeditions as leaders, guides and porters. As an individual or in groups, they have set records of many firsts in the mountaineering world. Due to their close affinity to Tibet, in trade, tradition and tongue, the Tibetan influence in their living style is quite distinct. They come, however, from Solu and Khumbu region of eastern Nepal, in the vicinity of Mt. Everest, along the Arun Valley, the Dudh Koshi river and its tributary areas.
Economy and trade
The economy of the Sherpas, is related directly to the mountain environment. They primarily live on field agriculture, animal husbandry, trade and mountaineering. The people of Solu (relatively in the lower and warmer region compared to Khumbu) grow potato, barley, Wheat, maize and others and trade them in the nearby areas. The Khumbu Sherpas have limited pasture of arable land and they primarily depend upon animal husbandry, yak and sheep breeding. They produce different Yak derivatives; including butter, cheese etc. Yak butter is used in making the traditional slated Tibetan tea. Khumbu lies in an important trade route to Tibet through Nangpa La (Nangpa pass). Namche bazaar is the main trading center in this region. This gateway to Mt. Everest is prosperous and it bustles with activities in the mountaineering and trekking seasons. Its numerous hotels provide modern facilities including various Satellite TV channels, public telephone services and different culinary delicacies; the traditional and continental. As the number of tourists and expedition increases, the scope of these highlanders for the employment as guides, and high altitude porters gradually increases. This has helped quite a lot in their living standards.
Traditions and Culture
There are two distinct castes in the Sherpa society, teh Khadev and Khamedu, the former having a higher social status. There are several clans eg Chhussherwa, Chiawa Gardza, Gole, Goparma, Hirgoma, Lakshindu, Lama, Mende, Mipa, Ngawa, Paldorje, Pankarma, Pinasa, Salaka, Shargup, Sherwa, Shine, Thaktu and others. Sherpa society is exogamous. i.e. a person must marry outside his or her clan. Fraternal polyandry is found among the Sherpas, that is two brothers may marry one common wife, however, if there are three brothers in a Sherpas family, the middle brother has to serve the monastery as a monk and for a family with four brothers, the group of two may marry two common wives. The polyandry which is also found in the in the most of the northern Himalayan ethnic groups, could have a common reasoning of the limited arable land available to them. This may restrain the family land being sub-divided into smaller units. The attitude towards is also relaxed in general. Polygamy, i,e, marrying more than one wife is rare.Sherpas observe a number of festivals during the year. The important ones are losar and dumze. Losar is the new years' celebration according to the Tibetan calendar. It occurs sometimes in the end of February. This singing dancing, feasting time is rejoiced by all families. Dumze is interesting festival observed in the village gomba or the monastery for seven days, sometimes during the month of July. The village lama conducts the rituals by worshipping Guru Rimpoche, Phawa Cheresi, Tsanba and other deities. While the villagers gather in the evenings at the gomba and enjoy eateries and drinks. Singing, dancing, and merry making being always the part of the occasion, Khumbu-hyulla, a local deity is always worshiped on every occasion. There is one occasion, Nungne, when people take solemn fasting or partial fasting for three days by laymen and for a fortnight by the nuns and lamas. People gather in gomba and recite the sacred texts. Those who can not recite the texts, they chant; "Om Mani padme hum". This is marked as a kind of penitence.The famous highlanders of Nepal are always on the move; sometimes to the greener and warmer pastures southwards; sometimes to trade and sometimes to climb the mountain as a guide, a leader or simply a porter. There are many of Sherpas who have set records in the mountaineering world. Tenzing Norgay Sherpa with Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first to climb the highest mountain of the world in 1953. Ang Rita Sherpa, nicknamed the snow leopard climbed the highest mountains for the 10th time in 1996, an astonishing feat for any human being that too without oxygen mask. Even collectively, this ethnic group has the most climbers and record holders atop the highest mountain.
In the middle hills and valleys along the southern slope of the Annapurna Himalaya in the mid-western Nepal; the Gurungs live together with other ethnic groups. Majority of them, the Magars and their Khasa counterparts, have formed the bulk of the famous Gorkha regiment of British and Indian Army, Royal Nepalese Army and the police. These sturdy, hardworking people are Mongoloid Physionomically. They extend their living territories from Gorkha in the east through Lamjung and Kaski to Syangja district. Almost every Gurung village or a family boasts many young men in the Gorkha regiment, their pensions and salaries being one of the main resources of their living.
Economy and trade
The economy of the Gurungs are mainly based on agriculture, animal husbandry and services in the army. They grow rice, wheat, maize, millet and potatoes. The terraced farming is the norms. They also derive their subsistence from sheep breeding for meat and wool. While sheep herding they use fierce mastiffs (sheepdogs).Most of the Gurung families have, however, an important source of income; the pensions and salaries of the family members who are in the army. Among them, there still exist the legendary fighters of British Gorkha Regiment, who were honored with Victoria Crosses for their bravery.
Tradition and Culture
The Gurungs are very colorful, happy and flirtatious people. A caste hierarchy divides the Gurung community into char jat and sor jat, group of four and sixteen clans respectively. They are distinctly endogamous groups. Traditionally they prefer cross-cousins marriage. Among some Gurungs, a small amount of compensation may be necessary if one wishes to avoid cross-cousins marriage. The parallel cousins marriage is, however, strictly prohibited.They also have a tradition of Rodi, a club of boys and girls of similar age group where dancing and singing is performed. This institution gives them ample opportunities to know, understand each other and develop love and affection. The environment in the Rodi is very flirtatious. The whole function is guided and held in the supervision of an adult.The Gurungs have very interesting dance tradition. They perform Sorathi, Ghado, Ghatu and others on one or many occasions. The dancing season generally starts on Shri Panchami day (On the fifth day of bright lunar fortnight some day in January or February) till the day of Chandi purnima (some day in May or April).Traditional dress of Gurungs includes a short blouse tied across the front and a short skirt of several yards of white cotton material wrapped around the waist and held like a wide belt. The Gurung women wear a cotton or velveteen blouse tied at the front, and a sari of printed material usually a dark reddish color. Their ornaments include gold and coral necklaces, gold earrings and nose rings and bangles.
Physionomically Mongoloid featured Thakalis are believed to have originated from Thak Khola, the valley of the Kali Gandaki River in western Nepal. These People are famous for their neatly tended kitchens and derive their subsistence from hotels, inns, trekking, one of the most famous trekking routes in the country.Thak Khola lies in Mustang district of Dhaulagiri zone of Nepal. Thak-sat-se is the traditional area of the Thakali community, which lies in the salt trading zone on the south of Tukuche mountain.
Economy and Trade
The Thakalis, with exceptional businessman ship are one of the most successful ethnic groups in the country. They derive profitably from trade and tourism through their investments in hotels, motels and trading of salt.The Thak-sat-se and Tukuche are the traditional areas of salt trading with Tibet. As middlemen, the Thakali get their salt from Tibet either directly or through neighboring border people of Lo, Bar gaun and Panch gaun. They barter it with rice, wheat, buck wheat from lower hills. Among the Thakalis, there persists an interesting system of financial co-operative scheme, known as Dhigur which is used to maintain the relative financial security for the Thakalis. dhigur, the lump sum contributed by many Thakali families and persons, is lent to the one who is needy for his/her trading activities.
Tradition and Culture
In contrast to the Gurungs, the Thakalis form a strictly endogamous group which is distinctly divided into four exogamous clans. A Thakali thus has to marry none other than Thakali, but the marriage has to be outside his or her own particular clan. The four clans are equal in status socially or ritually. However, on the basis of precedence in the worship, Gauchan clan comes first, followed by Tulachan, Sherchan, and Bhattachan. They have their particular clan gods as animal representative of dragon, elephant, lion and yak for Gauchan, Tulachan, Sherchan and Bhattachan respectively.A Thakali practices cross-cousin marriage. Marriage is usually by capture. Usually friends and relatives of the to-be- bridegroom, capture the girl in the evening and retain her confined in one of the relatives house until they get the approval from the girls parents. Polygamy i.e. marrying more than one wife is occasionally found but polyandry are not found among the Thakalis. The religion of the Thakali is a mixture of Buddhism, jhankrism, Bonpo and Hinduism, but they are close to Jhankrism, a kind of Shamanistic cult as their original religion.Lha Feva is the most significant festival for the Thakalis. it is observed some day in the month of November of every monkey year of the twelve year cycle according to the Tibetan calendar. Lha Feva is observed as the coming of God. The Sanskritic name of the festival is Kumbha Mela. Another festival Shyoben lava, its Sanskritic name for the festival is Kumbha mela. Another festival Shyoben lava, its Sanskritic name kumar Jatra, is a ceremony for boys.The Thakali society is undergoing rapid cultural change. They are constantly reforming their society with the changing times. Although they represent a small ethnic group, they have a strong contribution in the national economy on the whole.
The Tamangs live mainly in the high hills in the east, north and west of Kathmandu Valley in the central part of Nepal. These Tibeto-Burman speaking ethnic group derive their subsistence mainly as porters for the traders and trekking expeditions. While trekking in the Helambu or Langtang, we come across many of these people. Despite being so close to the capital city of Kathmandu, they are still backward and impoverished.
Economy and Trade
Most Tamangs, living in compact traditional settlements, are self-sufficient as far as food is concerned. Tamangs living outside such settlements are generally very poor and they mainly work as porters, coolies for the trekkers and traders in the hill areas. They can not sustain on the cultivation on their marginal strip of land. Tamangs are very skillful in making woolen garments from sheep wool. Some of them are also trained to paint beautiful thankas.
Tradition and Culture
The Tamang community is divided into several exogamous clans. A Tamang may marry any other except from his or her own clan. Cross- cousin marriage is preferred. Polyandry is not found but polygamy is common.The Tamangs are Buddhists. The religious activities are based on Jhankrism. There are several ghyangs (Buddhist temples) in every Tamang settlement. all their festivals and ceremonies are performed in buddhist fashion. On the first day of Magh (some day in January and February), they celebrate Chho in these ghyangs.Another feasting ceremony, nara is observed on the full moon day. Altogether, the Tamangs represent a community greatly exploited and poor in general.
RAIS AND LIMBUS
The Rais come from surrounding hills in the north-eastern Nepal; mainly near Dhankuta, Terhathum, Bhojpur and Arun and Dudh valleys. Likewise, the Limbus come from the extreme east of Nepal; mainly from the region of taplejung, Khotang and Arun Valley.The Rais are neither purely Hindu nor Buddhist. They have their own deities and beliefs. Tibetan lamaism has, however, great influence in their rites and rituals. The Limbus follow a mixture of Shivaism, Buddhism and Animism. The Rais and Limbus altogether form 4.4%of total population.
Economy and Trade
The Rais mainly derive their subsistence from agriculture. They cultivate paddy, millet, wheat, corn and even cotton. They also form a strong group in the Gorkha regiment, Royal Nepalese Army and the Police. The Limbus are mostly farmers. An ancient strange tradition prohibits them from working in the fields on the full moon and new moon days. There is no apparent and logical reason for the tradition.
Tradition and Culture
Among the Rais, marriages are monogamous. The marriages are held by arrangements, captures and elopements. The Limbus follows the same marriage tradition. Both the Rais and Limbus bury the deceased and place a tombstone on the grave, bearing the name and date.
The Tharus are the indigenous ethnic group who live in the northern part of Terai and inner Terai with a concentrated population in the middle and west of the country. They approximately form 6.4% of total population.Most of the Tharus have Mongoloid features with dark and semi-dark colors. They are aboriginal Terai settlers. Some also believe that Tharus came to Nepal from India during the Muslim invasion in the 12th and 13the century.The Tharus have their indigenous dialect, known as Naja. But they speak a mixture of local dialects, such as Prakriti, Bhojpuri, Mughali, Nepali, Urdu and Maithili.
Culture and Tradition
The Tharus believe in Animism. They also celebrate Hindu Festivals. There ate normally two clans; Pradhan and Apradhan. The former is considered superior. Each of the Tharu family venerate its personal tutelary deity which is represented by a lump of earth mixes with multicolored cotton threads, crude sugarcane and a gold coin in the center. Each village has its own local gods and goddesses protecting the people.Marriages among the Tharus, are monogamous. It is, however, strictly endogamous. Polyandry and polygamy are practiced sometimes. Rites and rituals linked with Tharu marriages are elaborate and complex. Most of the Tharu cremate their deceased. Others, however, bury them. There is a strange custom of keeping men face down and women face up during the burial. There is no apparent reason for it.
BRAHMANS, CHHETRIS AND THAKURIS
They are predominant ethnic groups in Nepal and altogether they form approximately 31.5% of total population. They are speakers of Nepali, the national language of Nepal. Originally, it is believed that they migrated from different parts of India and settled in across the country.
Brahmans are the members of the highest social caste. Two different categories of Brahmans viz. Kumai Brahmans and Purbiya Brahmans are present. They only differ in their derived homeland. The Kumai Brahmans are supposed to have come from the mountainous regions of Kumaon in the northern India west of Nepal. They are mainly confined in the western and central Nepal and the capital city of Kathmandu. The Purbiya Brahmand derive from the eastern part of Nepal and are found scattered across the country with the greater concentration in the eastern part of Nepal and Kathmandu. Brahmans and Chhetris form a major in Kathmandu and large number of them occupy key posts in the government services and in business.The Brahmans and Chhetries are orthodox followers of Hinduism and its rites and rituals mentioned in the Vedas, Purans and other scriptures. Their marriages and other rituals are very complex and elaborate. Sometimes the parents hold marriages for their 11 or 12 years old daughters. Child marriages, however, tend to slow down among the city dwellers and educated families. Inter-caste marriages are looked down upon and cross-cousin marriages are strictly prohibited. The body of deceased is always cremated. Women never attend the cremation. The pyre is lit by the son of the deceased. It is believed that doing so will set the soul in eternal peace after the death.
Chhetris and Thakuris
In the caste hierarchy, the Chhetris and Thakuris come second to Brahmins. They are rulers, leaders and warriors. The Brahmans are their teachers and family priests. Like Brahmins, they are orthodox Hindus. Thakuries are believed to have originally come from the northern part of India mainly form Rajasthan. They could have migrated to Nepal in the 12th and 13th centuries.In Nepal, Chhetris and Thakuris are among the most influential and well-to-do social classes. They are mostly in the government services, in high ranked positions in the army and the police. Some of them have remained farmers and are relatively poor and live like any other ethnic group.The Thakuris resemble the Chhetris in most of the cultural aspects and social status. The cross-cousins marriages are forbidden among the Chhetris. The Thakuris, however, commonly practice it among themselves.
The natives of Kathmandu, the Newars, are mainly traders. With a purpose to trade, they are scattered across the country; with greater concentration in the Kathmandu Valley, Banepa, Dhulikhel, Bhojpur, Bandipur and Tansen. In Kathmandu Valley, they make 44% of total population. Nationally, however, they make about 5.6% of total population. Despite the small percentage numerically, they contribute significantly in the history, art, architecture and business activities in the country.They are in to the business and government services; business being their main profession. They have negligible representations in the army and police services. Quite a few of them also have agriculture as their main occupation. These agrarian population are known as jyapus.Newars speak their own language, Newari better known as Nepal Bhasa which belongs to Tibeto-Burman family of languages. It has its own scripts and has no linguistic connection to Nepali, Hindi or Sanskrit. The Newari script, the Ranjana lipi is exceptional. The Newari literature is also very rich.There are both Buddhist and Hindu Newars. Like elsewhere in the country, religious syncretism is blended into the culture and tradition.They celebrate numerous feasts and festivals throughout the year.Newars have a well defined occupational caste system among themselves. Though some Newars have Mongoloid features, they rather represent a community of different elements mixed together.Besides their rich cultural heritage, festivals, the Newars are impeccable artists and architects.To quote Prakash A. Raj, the Kathmandu Valley with all its temples and places compares no less to florence in Italy. The Newars, of course, remained pivotal in the arts and architecture found in the Valley.Among the Newar community, an interesting ancient tradition, known as lhi of Bel Biha, requires that a young girl often 7 or 8 years old, be married to a certain tree called Bel tree or to its green fruit called Bel. The tree and the fruit symbolize a deity called Hiranya Garbha. Among the deities, Hiranya Garbha is one of the immortals. Thus marriage with Hiranya Garba is considered to be everlasting.To put it in a nutshell, the newars, though small in numbers, have a very strong and dominating influence in Nepals economy, politics and society in general.
Chepang and Kusundas
These backward ethnic communities belong to a well defined traditional area in the south of Dhading, the west of Makawanpur and east of Chitwan along the steeper slopes of Mahabharat range of the mid-Nepal. Very few of these hunting tribal people started deriving subsistence from agriculture. Otherwise, hunting, wood collection etc. have been their foremost living subsistence. Though, they are economically backward, they have a rich and unique cultural tradition. With the increasing encroachment of the forest (their main living recourse) by themselves and other communities alike, these people lately started working in the development projects in the areas as hard labors.Physionomically Mongoloid featured Chepangs (& Kusundsa) resemble the Kirantis (the Rais and Limbus) but their lineage to them is yet to be confirmed. Their totems are dog (Che is dog in their dialect) and arrow (pang is arrow). Their dialect belong to the Tibeto-Burman group of languages. It however, differs significantly from the Tamang dialect. The Tamangs live higher in the mountains than the Chepangs and the Brahmins and Chhetris live in the lower dales.They call themselves Sunpraja and Praja. They consider themselves as progeny of Lava (Lohari in Chepang dialect) the son of lord Rama in the great Hindu epic Ramayana. According to the legends, the goddess Sita, the consort of Lord Rama gave birth to a son Lava while she was in exile in a hermitage of sage Balmiki near Narayani river in Nepal. One day, she went with her son to take a bath in the Narayani river. The sage saw the cradle empty and created another living likeness of the baby out of Kusha grass, fearing that Sita would be shocked at not finding her son and blame the sage for not watching the baby properly. On her return from bath, Sita was startled to find another baby in the cradle. The sage, later on, explained her the details and advised her to raise both of them as her own sons. The other was brought up as Kusha.Chepangs believe themselves as the progeny of Lava and Kusundas as the descendants of Kusha. (or Kushari in Chepang dialect). Chepangs and Kusundas are natural enemies. Chepangs fear that Kusundas kill them on sight. Kusundas are still in the primitave stage and live in the forests and caves in the forests of southern part of Gorkha. It is believed that only few dozens of Kusundas exist in the forest. Chyuri (an indigenous fruit) is their favorite looked down upon. Chepang form and strict exogamous clan. Offspring from a Chepang woman and a non-Chepang man becomes a Chepang as they are not accepted by other orthodox castes.They observe all the Hindu festivals of Dashain, Tihar and Sakrantis besides their own tribal festival Nwagi, which is performed on a Tuesday during third week of Bhadra (some day in August and September). Chepangs do not possess other artistic skill of any kind except weaving of baskets and leaf umbrellas which they use for protection against rain. Very few Chepangs are literate. There still persist a tendency among the Chepangs to avoid schooling even if the government and other organization are trying to uplift their living standard.
Along the Gurung and Khas counterparts, the magars form an integral constituent of British and Indian Gurkha regiments and the Royal Nepal Army. They approximately make 7.2% of total population. They speak a dialect derived from Tibeto-Burman group of languages. Their religion is Buddhism. However, there are also some Hindu Magars.The Magars celebrate the festival dedicated to the goddess Kali in great pomp (a Hindu festival). Especially in Gorkha, they sacrifice a lot of goats during the occasion. Those who live in the vicinity of Brahmans and Chhetris have their cultural rituals similar to theirs. Magar villages are typical with their round and over houses. One comes across many of these settlements in the Annapurana round trekking.
Manangi resemble physionomically and religiously to the Tibetans but they take pride to believe themselves belonging to the Gurungs who live in the lower hills and valleys. These people inhabit the pleasant valley of Nanang in the upper reaches of the Marsyangdi river northwards in the central Nepal. The Managing distinct encloses three distinct areas of Neshyang, Nar and Gyasumdo; all of them culturally interrelated. They have agriculture as their foremost recourse of subsistence of living. The harsh and cold climate limits the cultivation to buck wheat, barley, wheat, maize, potatoes and radishes. They also breed sheep and other cattles. Now a days, they are also into trading and other professions. They have developed considerably in living style since they got special consideration from His Majestys Government of Nepal to trade in the South East Asian countries till 1963/1964.They are divided into different exogamus clans.Like the Gurungs in the lower hills, they are divided into char jat and sor jat (group of four and sixteen clans respectively). They practice polyandry ie. a tradition of two or more brothers marrying one common wife. This tradition, similar to that of other northern Himalayan people, is however common among the Gurungs. They arrange for feast, singing and dancing in the wedding.After death, they either cremate the body; throw it in the river or cut the flesh into pieces and feed them to the vultures. The funeral proceeds as the Lama directs the rituals. Losar, the new years celebration is their main festival in the month of February. Similarly, archery is arranged in a grand way during the month of April-May.
The Dolpa of Dolpo-pa settlements are concentrated in the remote and fascinating region which is confined by the Dhaulagiri Himalaya in the south and east, the Sisne and Kanjiroba mountain in the west and Tibet on the north. They generally settle at altitudes of 3,660m (Approx. 12,000ft.) to 4,070m (14,000 ft. approx.) They are probably the highest settlements in the world. These mongoloid featured people are Tibetan speaking. Most of them are illiterate, but they are not very poor. They derive their subsistence from agriculture and cattle breeding. The transactions are still done on barter basis.Dolpa society is divided into a number of exogamous clans has a totem animal which they worship. The particular totem animal is never slaughtered by the clan member. Marriages are very relaxed in general. Pre-marital and extra-matrial Marriages can be of any type; by arrangement, capture or elopement.They wear bakhhu (a heavy warm outer covering to knee-high). Dolpa women wear colorful aprons with a pair of trousers underneath. The ornaments include brass headdress of rectangular shape and other brass ornaments.The Dolpa people are Buddhist, but the Bon-po sect of Buddism also co-exists. They dispose off the dead in different ways. Some throw the corpse into the river while others cut the flesh into pieces and feed them to the vultures.
Flora and Fauna
Nepal is a land of geographical extremes, ranging from near sea-level elevations in the southern Terai to the worlds highest mountains. The country contains a variety of ecosystems; treeless sub-alpine pastures and dense fir forests of the high valleys, oak and rhododendron woods of the middle hills, and tall sal forests of the south. Along the southern borders of Nepal are preserved much of the lowland jungles and grasslands that once covered this part of the sub-continent. Here once can see birds and mammals found nowhere else. Although animal habitat has been somewhat depleted as a result of agriculture, deforestation and other causes, through Nepals extensive and effective park and reserve system, the country still has more varied flora and fauna than any other places in Asia.
1. Tropical Deciduous Monsoon Forest
This includes the Terai plains and the broad flat valleys or Duns found between hill ranges. The dominant tree species of this area are Sal (Shorea robusta), sometimes associated with Semal (Bombax malabricum), Asna (Terminalia termentosa), associated with Semal (Bombax malabricum), Asna (Terminalia termentosa), Dalbergia spp. and other species, and Pinus roxburghi occurring on the higher ridges of the Churia hills, which in places reach an altitude of 1,800 meters. Tall coarse two meter-high elephant grass originally covered much of the dun valleys but has now been largely replaced by agricultural settlement. This tropical zone is Nepals richest area for wildlife, with gaurs, wild buffalo Four species of deer, tiger, leopard and other animals, Rhinoceros, swamp deer and hog deer are found on the grasslands and two species of crocodile and the Gangetic dolphin inhabit the rivers.
2.Subtropical Mixed Evergreen Forest
This includes the Mahabharat Lekh which rises to a height of about 2,400 meters and comprises the outer wall of the Himalayan range. Great rivers such as the Karnali, Narayani, and Sapta Koshi flow through this area into the plains of the Terai. This zone also includes the so called "middle hills", which extend northward in a somewhat confused maze or ridges and valleys to the foot of the foot of the great Himalaya. Among the tree species characteristic of this region are Castenopsis indicia in association with Schima wallichi, and other species such as Alnus nepalensis, Acer oblongum and various species of oak and rhododendron, which cover the higher slopes where deforestation has not yet taken place. This zone is generally poor in wildlife. The only mammals which are at all widely distributed are wild boar, barking deer, serow, ghoral and bear. Different varieties of birds are also found in this zone.
3. Temperate Evergreen Forest
Northward on the lower slopes and spurs of the Great Himalaya, oaks and pines are the dominant species up to an altitude of about 2,400 meters. Above these are found dense conifer forest of Picea, Tsuga, Larix and Betula spp. Abies and Betula are usually confined to higher elevations, with Betula typically marking the upper limit of the tree line. At about 3,600 to 3,900 meters rhododendron, bamboo and maples commonly mingle with the conifers. The compositions of the forest varies considerably, with coniferous predominating in the west and eracaceous in the east. The wildlife of this region includes the Himalayan bear, serow, ghoral, barking deer and wild boar, with the Himalayan tahr sometimes being seen on steep rocky faces above 2,400 meters. The red panda is among the more interesting of the smaller mammals found in this zone; it appears to be fairly well distributed in suitable areas of the forest above 1,800 meters. The rich and varied avifauna of this region includes several spectacular and beautiful pheasants, including the Danphe Pheasant, Nepals national bird.
4. Subalpine and Alpine Zone
Above the tree line, rhododendron, juniper scrub and other procumbent woody vegetation may extend to about 4,200 meters were they are then succeeded by a tundra-like association of short grasses, sedge mosses and alpine plants wherever there is sufficient soil. This continues up to the lower limit of perpetual snow and ice at about 5,100 meters. The mammalian fauna is sparse and unlikely to include any species other than the Himalayan marmot, mouse hare, tahr, musk deer, snow leopard and occasionally blue sheep. In former times, the wild yak and great. Tibetan sheep could aso be sighted in this region and it is possible that a few may still be surviving in areas such as Dolpa and Himla. The bird life at these altitudes includes chough and bunting, with redstarts and dippers often seen along the streams and rivulet.
Arts and Architecture
Speckled with numerous exemplary works of art and architecture, Kathmandu Valley stands a testimony to ancient Nepals inclination toward the aesthetics. Several monuments in the Valley have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is the only World Heritage Site outside the Valley in South Nepal.
Like architecture, most artwork of Nepal is based on religion. Artworks range from the famous Buddhist Thanka and Newari Paubha paintings to the traditional crafts of woodwork and metal. Other art include literature, theater, music and dance, mirroring the different stages of Nepali society.
Nepali art has been deeply influenced by religion since very early times. Early art of Nepal can be seen as stone sculpture and temple architecture. Other art include Newari Paubha and Tibetan Thanka paintings, wood and metal crafts, ceramics and clay pots, textiles, paper, Tibetan carpet, music and literature. Contemporary Nepali art represents two distinct segments, traditional idealistic paintings and the contemporary western style works. The contemporary painting is specially noted for either nature based compositions or compositions based on Tantric elements or social themes. Nepali painters have also earned international reputation for abstract works based on these themes.
Kathmandu Valley houses a number of museums and art galleries displaying art work of the past and present. Some are: The National Museum at Chhauni, Museums at Kathmandu Durbar Square, Museum of Natural History at Swayambhu, National Library at Puchowk, Kaiser Library at Thamel, National Birendra Art Gallery at Naxal, Asa Archives at Tangal, National Art Gallery at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, National Woodworking Museum at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Bronze and Brass Museum at Bhaktapur, Nepal National Ehnographic Museum at Bhrikuti Mandap. Museums outside the Kathmandu Valley are such: Dhakuta Museum, Hattisar Museum in Bhimphedi, Mustang Eco Museum in Jomsom, Tharu Cultural Museum in Thakurdwara and International Mountain Museum in Pokhara.
Most festivals honor a deity with worshippers crowding around a shrine to perform puja. Temple courtyards are filled with long lines of people waiting to teast. Great processions wind through thestreets of the three old cities. Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, accompained by bands of Newar musicians and masked dancers. Sometimes idols of gods are paraded in gigantic wooden chariot shrines unique to Nepal.