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
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.
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.
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.
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 communities are migrated one and found elsewhere in scattered form they
have their own language, customs and cultural identity.
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
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.
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.