The Sacred Town of Sankhu, a book by Shrestha launched in Oxford

Oxford – ‘The Sacred Town of Sankhu: The Anthropology of Newar Ritual, Religion and Society in Nepal” the latest book by Dr Bal Gopal Shrestha was launched jointly by Professor David Gellner and chief guest, Nepalese scholar Giridhar Lall Manandhar, at an event at the University of Oxford on Tuesday.

Dr. Shrestha, a research fellow at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, and associate with Wolfson College, in the university of Oxford, UK, introducing the book, 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. He also informed the audience 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.

The chief guest 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 of Buddhism and Hinduism and call Newar a religion on its own right. Newars have some very distinct socio-cultural qualities that clearly explain their behaviour in every walk of life.

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 Nepalbhasa and recited today 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.

The released book was a publication of the Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The event concluded with a traditional Nepalese dinner and lively interaction among the audience.

Dr. Shrestha was elected president of the World Newah Organization at the 1st World Newah Conference held in London in October 2011.

Click here for the audeo version.

Audeo courtesy: Sanyukta Shrestha, London