Culture and heritage is crucial factor in teaching the offspring of their belongings and essence. From the historical age, our ancestors seemed very aware of what we refer as culture today. Magnificent temples, intricately carved artifacts and monuments of aged old reveal how conscious and spiritual artists we had in the past, proving this stood thousands of them in this magical country ‘Nepal’. Vigilantly stored/ restored and gradually diminishing/stolen, two keys are the happenings of today for most of them. However, such jewels are enough to designate the unique citizen of unique country, making the entire Nepalese being proud and thus should be preserved.
Present is the fruit of past, once we understand this, the task will be much easier. Ironically, only few people have understood the values of such arts provided by the rich ancestors of Nepal and have spared their valued time to revere and preserve them through their continuous efforts.
Nepal is the culturally richest country in Asia and a home to many different tribes who contribute to the rich cultural heritage. Explore the temples, shrines and monasteries, get in touch with the people and religion and celebrate the festivals with them. Everyone can find different kinds of art and cultures in any corner of the whole country.
Nepalese expressions of art, classical and modern, are imbedded in the daily practice of religion. While on the subject of painting, miniature oil paintings and batik art have become very popular over the last few years. Batik paintings usually depict everyday village scenes such as a girl carrying a baby on her back, porters carrying their loads etc. Most souvenir shops have a number of different sizes and designs, mostly unframed; it is also possible to order one’s own design. Oil paintings have a charm of their own and are especially successful in depicting landscapes and mountain sceneries. An interesting variation is found in oil paintings painted on the reverse side of the ‘nanglos’ – circular hand-woven trays used by Nepalese women to sort rice. Mithila Paintings (Janakpur) Bihar boasts of an enviable wealth of rural handicrafts comprising of hand – painted wall hangings, wooden stools, miniatures in paper and leaves, stone pottery, bamboo and leather goods, and applique work. But Bihar’s most famous and fascinating indigenous art forms, by far, are its Madhubani Paintings. This art is a strict monopoly of the women of Mithila. Done in primary colors of natural origin on paper and cloth, they narrate mythological and religious events.
North of the river Ganges, in the state of Bihar lies a land called Mithila, shaded by old mango groves and watered by melt water rivers of Nepal and the Himalayas. The men of the community have been famous as priests and scholars. The women largely illiterate find cultural expression through exquisite paintings created for ritual occasions. They cover their courtyard walls in abstract images in brilliant color, resembling in form and function the sand paintings of the Navahos. In the 1960s some local officials realized that if the women would only put some of their paintings on paper there might be a worldwide market for their creations. They proved to be correct and it is a mild irony in Mithila that the fame of the women has surpassed that of the men, because Mithila Art, otherwise known as Madhubani Paintings also, is now recognized throughout the world.
The art of Mithila is linked to religious ceremonies, particularly marriage and its consequence, procreation. Interspersed with the Vedic marital rites, with the Sanskrit chanting by the Brahmins, is a tradition controlled by the women and devoted to female deities Durga, Kali and Gauri. The bride and groom are pulled away by the women for their own ceremonies devoted to Gauri in which men other than the groom are forbidden. Gauri is the goddess to whom the bride has prayed since childhood to bring her a good husband. These ceremonies are performed in courtyards before painted images of the goddesses. The function of the paintings being ritualistic the art is very symbolic.
The primordial energy of the universe is embodied in various female forms, both living women and Goddesses. Some common themes include one of the Snake goddess, a form in which snakes are worshipped at Nag Panchmi during the monsoons, a time when snakes abound. Durga astride her tiger is another common representation. Probably the most powerful symbolism is the one associated with Duragoman Puren. A single seed that is dropped in the pond produces many lotus flowers, an appropriate thought for the bride and the groom at the time of their wedding. Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth, is a newer and common addition to the repertoire of Mithila symbolism. Among the male deities Ganesh, Krishna and Shiva are more commonly depicted. Trees, birds and animals are extensively used in combination with other ritual and religious paintings. Sometimes, rarely, one will see these alone without religious implication.
The paintings on wall have deeper themes, also narratives, for they are the stories being told sometimes in a series of panels. Apart from their decorative purpose, they also constitute a form of visual education like picture books, from which ones learns of ones heritage. Some outstanding ones are done in the Madhubani area. They have a naivete and simplicity which perhaps is their attraction, that both soothes and pleases the eyes.
The multi armed DURGA riding the lion flanked by serpents, with their upraised hoods, is awesome. The subject matter varies according to the occasions. The Gods and Goddess are normally there to bless. Their most elaborate picture is in the nuptial chamber the “Kohbar Ghar” designed to bless the couple. Here there will be divine couples like SHIV-PARVATI, RADHA-KRISHNA, then the signs of fertility and prosperity for good luck like elephants, fishes, parrot, turtoil, the Sun, the Moon, bamboo, shrubs in bloom and trees laden with giant flower. The women with very limited resources use indigenous colors that they can make themselves and find bamboo sticks wrapped in cotton for painting. Painting on the wall is communal act done by all the women of a family or group.
Yet another form of painting is found in greeting cards and consists of oil or water colors painted on leaves of pipal tree. The most common design shows Buddha in meditation; bird and flower designs are also available. Leaf greeting cards are attractively presented and usually contain a brief description of the making process.
Unique craftsmanship is most easily found in temples, architecture, shrines, fountains and the design of religious objects. Understanding the various religious creeds as well as the representations of gods and goddesses enhances the appreciation of Nepalese art. In the other hand arts of Nepal can be explored in multi-roofed pagodas, stupas and stone sculptures, and into rooms cluttered with horror-eyed masks, spinning prayer wheels, trippy thangka scrolls and Tibetan carpets.
Speckled with numerous exemplary works of art and architecture, Kathmandu Valley stands a testimony to ancient Nepal’s inclination toward the aesthetics. Architecture and most artworks of Nepal are based on religion. Artworks range from the famous Buddhist Thanka and Newari Paubha paintings to the traditional crafts of woodwork and metal. There are so many art galleries under the government control and private sector in Kathmandu. Some of them are; National Art Gallery is located in the famous place complex of Bhaktapur Durbar Square consists of some of the rarest paintings of Nepal and wide array of manuscripts with painted covers and illustrations. Although this museum is primarily a Museum of paintings from early to late Malla period, the Gallery also contains bronze, brass stone and wooden images. Birendra (NAFA) Art Gallery is the Nepal Association of Fine Arts (NAFA) at Naxal has a collection of about 150 art pieces by prominent Nepalese artists. Art exhibitions are held regularly, and there are also studios where artists can be seen at work. Housed in a fine old un-restored Rana palace, named Bal Mandir. Siddhartha Art Gallery is the works of eminent and amateur artists in varying styles make up individual and group exhibits at this gallery. Located in Babar Mahal revisited, a restored rana palace, the gallery is minimalist, yet has a touch of the grandiose from the past.
Nepalese culture can be defined in many ways. Some traditions are since hundreds of years. When you visit a Nepali home, you are offered a cup of tea. Offering whatever one has to a guest is considered a moral duty and is taken seriously by Nepalese. Meeting and talking with Nepali people will be a deep remembrance for visitors. Nepalese wear a smile and rich, traditional social values where love and affection comes before anything else. Travelers count Nepalese among the best friends in the world. Nepalese respect Guests as God and hospitable by nature. A part of the reasons why people revisit Nepal is because of the friendliness and warmth of Nepali people.
One of the interesting ways to understand the beauty and richness of Nepali culture is through its festivals. Nepal is a village of Ethnic groups. Ethnic groups each of them have a different language, culture, customs and traditions yet they live in a perfect harmony. During festivals in Nepal, cultural dances, songs and performances are practiced. These cultural treasures make the festivals interesting and entertaining. People find more joy participating in performances and watching others perform and so, no festivals are idle gatherings. Instead, they are lively and purposeful.
Esoteric tantric hymns and Nepalese music hang in the air, whether it is the twang of a four-stringed saringhi or the plaintive notes of a flute. Traditional folk musicians (Gaine) gather for an evening of singing and socializing; classical dancing and trance-like masked dances enliven the Kathmandu Valley and Bhaktapur regions; Weeding Procession is also one of the major parts of culture in Nepal. Sometimes the parents hold marriages for their 11 or 12 years old daughters. Though this is punishable by law; one hardly gets persecuted against such crime. Child marriages, however, tend to slow down among the city dwellers and educated families. While no wedding would be complete without the raucous Damais (Nepal’s modern ensembles) there are so many ceremonies during the lifetime from birth till the die date.
The diverse geography of Nepal ranging from Himalayas in the north to the southern Terai region renders it home to a wide range of culture. Customs and traditions differ from one part of Nepal to another. A conglomeration lies in capital city Kathmandu where cultures are blending to form a national identity. Festivals in Nepal begin with religion, ending as social event. There are more then 50 major festivals in a year celebrated by Nepalese. Although most of these festivals are religious some have historical significance while other is seasonal celebrations.
Equally breathtaking is Nepal’s cultural heritage. The temples, shrines and monuments packed into its nook and cranny, as well as its arts and crafts, architecture and the year round celebrations that mark numerous festivals, is the cultural hub of the nation. The practices and beliefs of the diverse
Communities living elsewhere in the religion have added extra colour and flavour to vibrant culture.
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