Bania (Newar caste)

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Itum Bahal, Kathmandu. The surrounding area is a traditional Bania neighborhood.

Bania (Devanagari: बनिया) is a Nepalese caste from the Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The name Bania is derived from the Sanskrit word vanijya (merchant); by preference, Bania (caste).

Banias belong to the Urāy group which includes Tuladhar, Kansakar, Tamrakar, Sthapit, Sindurakar, Selalik and other castes. They speak Nepal Bhasa as a mother tongue and follow Newar Buddhism.

Traditional occupation[edit]

According to the division of labour laid down from the past, Banias are herbalists and wholesalers of raw materials for Newar, Tibetan and Āyurvedic traditional medicines.[1] Traditional Bania neighborhoods in Kathmandu are Itum Bahal and Bania Chuka where the streets are lined with herbal shops.[2][3]

Cultural life[edit]

Banias participate in the performance of Gunla Bajan religious music. Samyak is the greatest Newar Buddhist festival held every 12 years in Kathmandu where statues of Dipankara Buddha are displayed. During this festival, each Urāy caste has been assigned a duty from ancient times, and Banias have the task of preparing and serving "sākhahti", a soft drink made by mixing brown sugar and water.[4]

Notable Banias[edit]

  • Dharmachari Guruma (1898-1978), Buddhist nun who helped to restore Theravada Buddhism and built the first nunnery in Nepal, formerly Laxmi Nani Bania (née Tuladhar)[5][6]
  • Iswarananda Shresthacharya, author and linguist


  1. ^ Lewis, Todd T. (January 1996). "Notes on the Uray and the Modernization of Newar Buddhism" (PDF). Contributions to Nepalese Studies. Retrieved 15 April 2012.  Page 110.
  2. ^ Tuladhar, Suman Kamal (coordinator) (2012) Udaaya Research. Kathmandu: Udaaya Samaj. Pages 29-30.
  3. ^ Shilakar, Uttam Raj (2007) in Newah Samaj. Kathmandu: Newah Dey Daboo. ISBN 978-99946-2-534-5. Page 9.
  4. ^ Lewis, Todd T. (1995). "Buddhist Merchants in Kathmandu: The Asan Twah Market and Uray Social Organization" (PDF). Contested Hierarchies. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Retrieved 15 April 2012.  Page 47.
  5. ^ LeVine, Sarah and Gellner, David N. (2005) Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674019089. Page 47. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  6. ^ Gellner, David N. & LeVine, Sarah. "All in the Family: Money, Kinship, and Theravada Monasticism in Nepal". Occasional Papers, Vol 10. Retrieved 15 April 2012.  Page 152.