Gods, Men and Territory – Society and Culture in Kathmandu Valley

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    Manohar CSH
The Newars who live in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal are well known for their urban civilization as well as for the social organisation of their territory, which they have conserved for centuries. The author shows that for the Newars there exists a complex relationship between gods and men and also that their notion of territory is inextricably linked with the sanctuaries and temples, where gods have precise sites. Even though political power has always been in the hands of the Hindus, the co-existence of Hinduism and Buddhism since the fifth century and the influence of Tantrism later on has given rise to a complex pantheon. The sanctuaries and temples are not merely decorative, they are functional as well. Each festival takes place around a temple and these mark out the territory the Newars inhabit.The Newar town not only has a religious centre but a political centre as well. For instance, at Bhaktapur the royal goddess Taleju is the political figure head and the goddess Tripurasundari the religious figure head and the goddess. The royal goddess Taleju being the sovereign deity of the town, it is obvious that the political centre has primacy over the religious centre. The seats of the deities within a territory are situated in concentric circles.

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