The Newari community, indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, boasts a rich cultural heritage, replete with fascinating traditions and rituals. Among the many celebrations that mark their calendar, two prominent events stand out: Bell Bibah and Gufa. These sacred rituals hold deep religious and cultural significance, offering a glimpse into the unique practices of the Newari people. In this blog, we will explore the essence of Bell Bibah and Gufa, shedding light on their origins, customs, and importance within the Newari community.

Bell Bibah:

Bell Bibah, also known as Bajrayogini Jatra, is a significant festival observed annually by the Newari community. The festival falls in the month of December or January, corresponding to the Nepali month of Poush. The word “Bihan” translates to “to take out,” symbolizing the act of bringing out the goddess Bajrayogini’s statue for public veneration.


According to legend, during the reign of King Pratap Malla, a priest discovered the divine statue of Bajrayogini in a secret chamber within the ancient city of Kathmandu. To honor this discovery and pay homage to the goddess, Bell Bibah was established as a grand procession featuring elaborate rituals and cultural performances.

Customs and Celebrations:

The festivities begin with a group of Newari priests, clad in traditional attire, performing ancient rituals at the temple of Bajrayogini. The highlight of Bell Bibah is the ceremonial procession, where the statue of the goddess is carefully placed on a palanquin adorned with flowers and carried through the streets of Kathmandu. Accompanied by musicians playing traditional instruments and devotees singing hymns, the procession creates a vibrant spectacle.

Bell Bibah Rituals
Bell Bibah Rituals

Throughout the procession, devotees gather to offer prayers and seek blessings from Bajrayogini. The air resonates with the sounds of bells, conch shells, and traditional Newari music, adding to the festive ambiance. The event concludes with the return of the goddess’s statue to her temple, where special rituals continue for several days.


Bell Bibah holds immense religious and cultural importance for the Newari community. It is believed that participating in the festival purifies the mind, body, and soul, and brings prosperity and good fortune. The festival also serves as a reminder of the rich heritage and artistic skills of the Newari people, with various cultural performances, dances, and music taking center stage during the celebrations.


Gufa, meaning “cave” in the Newari language, is another unique tradition celebrated by the Newari community. This ancient ritual is observed in honor of deceased family members and ancestors, and it is believed to ensure their peaceful journey in the afterlife.


The origin of Gufa can be traced back to ancient Newar myths and legends. The Newaris believe that after death, the soul of an individual lingers near the body for several days. Gufa acts as a ritualistic farewell, allowing the soul to peacefully depart from this world.

Customs and Celebrations:

Gufa is typically performed by the family members of the deceased on the third day after the passing. A special chamber or room, decorated with intricate Newari motifs and religious symbols, is created to represent the cave. The room is adorned with photographs of the deceased, along with offerings of food, flowers, incense, and traditional Newari delicacies.

During the ritual, family members gather to chant prayers and hymns, seeking blessings for the departed soul. The room is illuminated with oil lamps, symbolizing the journey from darkness to light. The atmosphere is filled with a sense of reverence and solemnity as the family members reflect on the life of their loved one and offer their final prayers and wishes for a peaceful afterlife.

Throughout the Gufa ritual, there is a strong emphasis on honoring the deceased and ensuring their spiritual well-being. The offerings of food and symbolic items are believed to provide nourishment to the departed soul on their journey. Family members may also engage in acts of charity and generosity in the name of the deceased, seeking to accumulate positive karma on their behalf. Gufa serves as a time for the family to come together, offering support and comfort to one another during the grieving process. It provides an opportunity for them to share stories, memories, and anecdotes about the departed, keeping their spirit alive in their hearts and minds.


Bell Bibah and Gufa are two captivating rituals that showcase the cultural and religious richness of the Newari community. Bell Bibah, with its grand procession and vibrant celebrations, pays homage to the goddess Bajrayogini and serves as a testament to the artistic talents of the Newari people. Gufa, on the other hand, offers a poignant and introspective moment for families to honor their departed loved ones and find solace in the collective rituals and prayers.

These rituals not only hold significance within the Newari community but also provide a deeper understanding of the broader cultural landscape of Nepal. They exemplify the diversity and depth of religious practices that shape the lives and traditions of different communities within the country.

By preserving and passing down these sacred rituals from one generation to another, the Newari community continues to uphold their cultural heritage and strengthen their sense of identity. Bell Bibah and Gufa serve as a testament to the enduring power of tradition and the profound connections between the past, present, and future in the lives of the Newari people.

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