Shrēṣṭha (Nepali: श्रेष्ठ) is a Newar surname meaning "most excellent" or " Noble" in Sanskrit. (नेवा:) community in Nepal. Prior to the unification of modern Nepal, Shresthas served as administrators and courtiers in the court of the Malla Newar Kings of Nepal. After the unification of Nepal, Shresthas took up business and trading since the former position as administrators and courtiers were supplanted by the invading Gorkha forces. Shresthas are now one of the most dynamic community in Nepal and have excelled in professional careers such as medicine, civil aviation, science and technology, government service as well as finance and banking. Shresthas are regarded as one of the highest class caste among Newars in Nepal.
Language, culture and religion
Shrestha are a part of the Newar community of Kathmandu. As with all Newars, the mother tongue of Shrestha is Nepal Bhasa. Shrestha are mostly Hindu with some following strict Buddhism. Even the Hindu Shrestha worship Buddhist shrines as part of their own religion.
According to noted historians, the word Shrestha is derived from the Nepal Bhasha word "Sheshya" which means warrior. Sheshyas served as administrators and courtiers during the rule of the Malla Newar Kings that ruled Nepal for six hundred years known as the "Golden Era" of Nepal when much of the cultural and architectural development of Nepal took place. Sheshyas took a prominent role in the governance and administration of the nation and fought valiantly against the Gorkha invasion.
Shrestha stems from Nepali folklore. The family name was common of Newar clans, who originated from the indigenous janajati ethnic group. According to Nepali folklore, this was the surname of the sannyasa, Lal Shweta, who witnessed the birth of the Hindu god Himavat and spent 300 days sculpting his likeness from the snow of Janakpur, Nepal. Lal Shweta survived on the mountain only with Srishti, her clouded leopard. It is rumoured that, upon her completion, the Hindu vaishya blessed her family name to mean ‘greatest’ and released her soul into the Himalayas. The clouded leopard is now held to be a deity by those with the surname Shrestha. The tale of Shweta can be found in the Hindu history.
- Ram Prasad Shrestha - Chief Justice of Nepal, 26 March 2010 - 5 May 2011
- Durga Lal Shrestha - Poet, Lyricist
- Ganesh Lal Shrestha - Poet, Lyricist
- Ganga Lal Shrestha - Politician , One of the four famous Martyr of Nepal
- Jagat Lal Shrestha - Educator, Author
- Madan Krishna Shrestha - Comedian, Actor, Singer
- Marich Man Singh Shrestha - Prime Minister of Nepal, 1986–1990
- Namrata Shrestha - Model, Actress
- Sarita Shrestha - First Ayurvedic physician, OB/GYN of Nepal
- Siddhicharan Shrestha - Poet
- Shristi Shrestha - Miss Nepal
- Ishani Shrestha - Miss Nepal
- Jiban Shrestha - Scientist, Nepal Agricultural Research Council
- Wright, Daniel (1877). "History of Nepal with an Introductory Sketch of the Country and People of Nepal". Cambridge. Retrieved 23 September 2012. Page 86.