Oxford, United Kingdom, June 6th, 2012, Dr Bal Gopal Shrestha's latest book 'The Sacred Town of Sankhu: The Anthropology of Newar Ritual, Religion and Society in Nepal' was released jointly by Professor David Gellner and chief guest Nepalese scholar Mr Giridhar Lall Manandhar in an event at the University of Oxford yesterday.
The program started with Dr Shrestha introducing his book to the audience. He explained how he had closely observed the rituals connected to the culture and religion of his hometown Sankhu, which later led him to carry out anthropological research in this field. Following his graduation in political science from T.U. Nepal, he started assisting a Dutch anthropologist late A. W. (Bert) Van den Hoek with whom he produced some remarkable works in the field of South-Asian anthropology focused in the city of Kathmandu. Later Dr Shrestha carried out his research on rituals of Sankhu all that are included in his book. He further explained that several facts like the presence of ancient inscriptions, ancient Buddhist cult that are still continued today as age-old traditions, etc prove that Sankhu is a very ancient settlement with significant contribution to Nepalese culture and history.
Mr Giridhar Manandhar expressed his view that Newar culture is such a strong culture in itself that we can place it well above both the popular religions Buddhism and Hinduism and call Newar a religion on it's own right. Newars have some very distinct socio-cultural qualities that clearly explain their behaviour in every walk of life. He gave several examples including the tradition in which if a woman wants to leave her husband, she can easily do so by leaving two betel nuts under the pillow, which she receives during her marriage.
Prof Dr Gellner highlighted various aspects that are specific to the tradition of Sankhu. He emphasized that Sankhu is the town, which has given the cult of Swasthani written in Nepalbhasha which today is read by Nepalese not only in Nepal but around the world. Also the style of traditional Buddhist cave that can be found in Sankhu proves that the religious history can be traced back to at least 4-7th Century.
More than fifty guests attended the event. The event concluded with a traditional Nepalese dinner and lively interaction among the audience.
Dr Shrestha is currently a research fellow at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, and associate with Wolfson College, in the university of Oxford, UK. The book is published from the Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK. More information about the book can be obtained from:
News Source: Sanyukta Shrestha