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Pokhara

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Arts & Culture

People and Cultures: The history of Pokhara city shows that proper settlement in Pokhara was initiated from Bindabasini (Presently Ward No. 2) and Batulechour (Presently Ward No. 16). During that time the settlers of town were Thakuri (the ruling class people), Brahman, Chettri & Occupational caste group such as Kami, Kami, Sarki, Gaine, Newars. The trader caste followed in later on. It was only after eradication of malarial fever from the valley in mid 1960s and subsequent urbanization process such as development of transport and communication, health, education, trade, commerce, industries etc., gave rise to immigration of people from abroad which ultimately converted the homogeneous town into heterogeneous in nature. The people of Nepal are the outcome of successive wave of migration of Mongoloids and Cancasoid from the two major Asiatic civilizations. Therefore, the people of Pokhara represent both of them and Austrolaid & Protogurtofoid stocks in minority as wee. Approximately 95% of the city’s population has its origin in hills, people of Terai mountain are 3% and 2% respectively. The 1991 census has recognized 60 ethnic and caste-groups. Of these, 29 are from Hill, 29 from Terai and 2 from Mountain region whereas the census of 2001 has recorded 70 diverse groups out of which 27 are from Hill, 35 from Terai, 4 from Mountain & 4 from mixed & unidentified categories. However, this classification includes four religious groups i.e. Chaurete, Marwari, Muslim and Sikh as well as Bengali linguistic group. Thus, the population of Pokhara is made up of numerous ethnic and caste groups, a number of classes and creeds as well as linguistic heterogeneity. Hence it is a cultural cradle of different ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. People are of different religious beliefs, but they are mostly Hindus and Buddhists. A marginal number of people follow Christianity, Jainism, Islam, Sikhs etc. The religious secularism, tolerance and co-existence are the unique characteristics of cultural components. Hence, no untoward incident has ever occurred. Nepali is the language of majority as well as its linguafranca. Newari, Gurung, Magar, Chaurete, Maithili, Thakali, Tamang, Bhojpuri etc. are other local dialects of Pokhara. Brahmans form the majority group and it is followed by Gurung, Newar and Chhetri groups. The Kami, Sarki, Damai, Thakali, Chaurete etc. are minority groups. The temples, gombas, churches, mosques are located in different localities of the city. As being a cultural cradle of Western Region, Pokhara is the land of festivals with rich cultural heritage of the people of Indo-Aryan as well as Mongoloid stocks. More than 90 percent cultural ceremonies and activities have religious origin. Out of these, Buddhajayanti, Shrawan Shakranti, Nagpanchami, Janaipurnima, Teej, Bada Dashain etc. are totally religious. During the celebration of Lakhe Nach, Gaijatra, Bhairabjatra, Loshar cultural activities such as dancing and singing, repeating lores and legends are preformed as ceremonial rites and rituals. These are the most fascinating cultural phenomena of this cosmopolitan society. Apart from Hindu and Buddhist festivals, Id, Ramzan, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, Good Friday etc are also observed by minority Muslim and Christian cultural groups. In respects of cultural heritage, Pokhara is one of the richest cultural bowls in the kingdom. It was a meeting point of several tribes, races, ethnos, castes and creeds from the very beginning. Now it has been converted into the homeland of several castes, creeds, tribes, races and cultural groups. Therefore, the different lifestyles of these people in aggregate reflect the cultural significance of the town.

The first-born settlement sites i.e. Batulechour, Bindabasini, Baidam, Simalchour, Kundhar, Chinedanda etc are occupied by high caste Brahmin and Chhetri people. The Bazaar (market) area of Singhnath Tole, Maoharia Tole, Bhairabtole, Ganesh Tole, Terchhapatti Toel, Sangu Ko Mukh are inhabited by Newars. Newly developed settlements such as Bagar, Deep, Rambazaar, Chhorepatan, Bajhapatan etc are dominated by Gurungs. Other diverse groups of people are scattered all over the twon. This is the cultural morphology of Pokhara, which reflects the residential locality of cultural group.

People of Pokhara
Pokhara is rich in cultural diversity. The population of the valley comprises Brahmins, Kshetris, Newars, Gurung, Magar, Thakalis and other occupational castes like Damai (tailor), Kami (blacksmith), Sunar (goldsmith) and Pode (sweeper). There is a small Muslim community as well.
• Brahmin and Kshetri Community • Magar Community
• Gurung Community • Muslim Community
• Thakali Community • Gaine Community
• Newar Community • Tibetan Community
Occupation
The traditional community of Pokhara comprises mainly peasants. The traditional occupation and role of different castes and communities remain more or less the same. In the military profession most of the recruits are from Gurung, Magar and Kshetri. Gurung and magar prefer the Indian and British Gorkha army. Thakali and Newar are traditional business community. Thakalis prefer hotel business whereas Newars are involved in various commercial activites. Muslims of Pokhara are also involved in business.
Brahmin and Kshetri Community
These are dominant communities elsewhere in Nepal. They are strict followers of Hinduism. The general cultural and traditional practices in Nepal reflect that of Brahmin and Kshetri communities.
Gurung Community
Gurungs are hard working mongolian hill people inhabiting southern part of Annapurna region in between 5,000 to 7,000 feet. Their main villages around Pokhara include Ghandruk, Dhampus, Ghachok, Armala, Tanting, Chhomorng and Sikles. Gurung people are considered honest, brave and laborious. Most of the Gurungs prefer to join the British and Indian army. They have their own language and their cultural practices are still existing. The Gurungs live in small round, oval or rectangular houses which are clustered to form a single village. The upper section of their house is white washed and the lower part is red plastered. The traditional costume for the women is maroon velvet blouse and large cloth which is fastened over their one shoulder, a wrap-round skirt and many yards of narrower cloth wrapped around their waist. Their ornaments include gold and coral necklaces which represent the prosperity of their family. Gold ear and nose rings are given to woman at the time of marriage. Money, keys and various useful things are wrapped into the waist cloth. A cotton cloth is usually tied round the head. Males wear a short tied across the front and a short skirt of several yards of white cotton material wrapped around the waist and held by a broad belt. Gurungs are broadly classified into two groups, viz. four clans and sixteen clans. Four clans are considered superior to the sixteen clans. In Gurung community, boys and girls are free to make self choice of marriage partners. However, traditionally, cross-counsin marriage both of paternal and maternal lineage is widely practiced. The Gurungs have a very interesting dance tradtion. Two dances namely Ghatu and Shorathi are most popular. Rodi is another interesting Gurung institution. This is a club for boys and girls, of more or less of the same age-usually ten or eleven, under the supervision of an adult. Rodi also serves as a work association where various activities are planned for co-operative working. The most important festival of Gurung is Lhosar which is observed in the end of December. Both cremation and burial practice of disposing dead bodies are prevalent in Gurung communities. Sometimes in the memory of dead person resting places (Chautara) are constructed.
Thakali Community
Thakalis are the original inhabitant of Thak Khola, a high valley of Kali Gandaki in Mustang district northeast of Pokhara. The traditional areas of the true Thakali is known as Thak-Satsaya or seven hundred Thak but nowadays they have increased in number and have spread much further. Thakalis have regular feature of Mongolian with round face,  flat nose, high cheekbones, narrow eyes and yellow skin pigments. They speak their own language which belongs to the Tibeto-Burmese family. Previously the profession of the Thakali was salt trade form tibet. But nowadays they are involved in different business in the major cities of Nepal and have proved themselves to be successful entrepreneurs. Thakali marriage custom is distinctive. They practice cross-cousin marriage of both maternal and parental lineage. The traditional marriage system is very interesting. The friends and close relatives of the boy set out for evening walk and capture the girl to be married. Then she is kept under the strict guardianship until her parents agree. But their traditions are rapidly changing and many Thakalis do not prefer traditional marriage. The most significant festival is "Ihafeva" which is observed in November of every monkey year of the twelve year cycle according the Tibetan calendar.  Many Thak people are attracted By Pokhara but Thak Khola is still considered the homeland of Thakalis. There are fewer Thakalis in Pokhara in comparison to others but their influence in trade and business is high.
Newar Community
Newars are the indigenous habitants of Kathmandu Valley. They have come to Pokhara for their traditional business and their main concentration is in Ramkrishna Tole and in the area around Mahendra Pool. One can observe their community in Ramkrishna Tole properly. They still follow the joint family system and every member is involved in the family business. They have their own language and very rich tradtion. Their caste group ranges from lowest group of sweepers to the highest group of priests. They follow Buddhism as well as Hinduism.
Magar Community
Magar communities are migrated one and found elsewhere in scattered form they have their own language, customs and cultural identity.
Muslim Community
This community is regarded as one of the oldest community residing the valley. They are very conservative and are strict followers of Muslim laws. They are very few in number and their main business is selling bangles. They are mainly concentrated at Kundahar.
Gaine Community
One can see persons begging on roads by singing in accompaniment with a typical musical instrument. These people represent the Gaine community. They are concentrated in the Batulechowr which lies on the northern part of the valley. They are very poor and play the same role in social life as "minstrels". The instrument they carry along with them are known as "Sarangi" which is a locally made violin. They sing songs of valor, gallantry or of some tragic incident.
Tibetan Community
Actually they are the refugees from Tibet but they have settled here and kept their tradition and culture alive. So you can observe their traditions and cultures almost unchanged. There are three Tibetan settlements in the valley. namely-Prithvi Chowk, Hyangja and Davis fall.
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