The Sacred Town of Sankhu: The Anthropology of Newar Ritual, Religion and Society in Nepal
Author: Bal Gopal Shrestha
Date Of Publication: May 2012
This book presents a detailed view of Newar society and culture, and its socio-economic, socio-religious and ritual aspects, concentrating on the Newar town of Sankhu in the Valley of Nepal. The foundation of the town of Sankhu is attributed to the goddess Vajrayoginī, venerated by both Buddhists and Hindus in Nepal and beyond. Myths, history, and topographical details of the town and the sanctuary of the goddess Vajrayoginī and her cult are discussed on the basis of published sources, unpublished chronicles, and inscriptions.
The book deals with the relation between Hinduism and Buddhism, with the interrelations between the Newar castes (jāt), caste-bound associations (sī guthi), and above all with the numerous socio-religious associations (guthi) that uphold ritual life of the Newars. All major and minor Newar feasts, festivals, dances, fasts and processions of gods and goddesses are discussed.
Dr Bal Gopal Shrestha is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA), and Associate with Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK. He has been Visiting Fellow at the Department of History, University of Leiden, The Netherlands (2007–8). He was Researcher and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Leiden University, and taught Politics of South and Southeast Asia (2006–07). He was Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Fondazione Centro Incontri Umani, Ascona, Switzerland (2004–6). The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK awarded him a Frederick Williamson Memorial Fund (2003). The University of Leiden awarded him a PhD fellowship (1996–2002). He made the award-winning ethnographic documentary Sacrifice of Serpents: The Festival of Indrayani, Kathmandu 1992/94 (Leiden, 1997) together with the late Van den Hoek and Dirk J. Nijland. In 1993 he joined the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University, Nepal as a lecturer. He has conducted fieldwork in Nepal and India, and has published widely on Nepalese religious rituals, Hinduism, Buddhism, ethnic nationalism, the Maoist movement, and political development in Nepal.
''Bal Gopal Shrestha's rigorously researched work on Sankhu is an invaluable anthropological contribution to Nepali and South Asian studies, and I wholeheartedly recommend that libraries specialising in these subject areas hold copies of it.'' Ajaya Mali, The Kathmandu Post, 19/01/13
“We have this unique, rich, marvelously complete and balanced book . . . This book is the first complete systematic description of the religious year of any town in Nepal, and it may well serve as an example for more similar studies.”
– Dr D. H. A. Kolff, Professor of South Asian History, Emeritus, University of Leiden, The Netherlands
“It is a very valuable book, full of very interesting ethnographic data, based on a long fieldwork in this Newar town located in the Valley of Kathmandu, Nepal. This piece of work is in my opinion one of the best theses submitted by a Nepalese student in anthropology in Europe these last decades.”
– Prof Dr Gérard Toffin, Director of Research, CNRS, France
“The whole history and culture of the town of Sankhu are covered with encyclopedic thoroughness, detail, and local knowledge. The book will be an indispensable reference for all those who study the Newars and who are interested in the social organization, culture, and history of the Kathmandu Valley.”
– Prof Dr David N. Gellner, University of Oxford, UK
“The book is a perceptive ethnography of Sankhu focused on its social structure, religion and culture, lately in the throes of change. Dr Shrestha has done extensive fieldwork to collect data, which are supplemented by a close and critical assessment of available textual material relating to the local myths, legends and historical traditions. This book is exemplary ethnography of the social, cultural and religious practices of the Newars written by an insider who is a promising scholar well-versed in the social sciences.”
– Dr Kamal P. Malla, Professor of English, Emeritus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Price Uk Gbp: 64.99
Price Us Usd: 97.99
Sample pdf (including Table of Contents)