“What do you call Saraswati in Newari?”
It’s one of those types of questions that bugs Newari People. What is this called in Newari? or What is the Newari name for that? Well, the truth is, a lot of these – including names for Hindu gods – are things that are rather unknown.
These are those types of Names that quite a few Newari people don’t know either. The reason is that a lot of typical names have been lost as time progresses. Because Newari shares a lot with the Nepali language, it is easier to integrate the Nepali language into Newari and lose the original terms.
Coming back to the topic, people don’t really know the Newari terms or names for a lot of gods and goddesses. However, we do have a collection of some of these names today.
14 Newari Names for Gods
Before we begin, a small note in Newari Language has lost a letter that is an integral part of its vocabulary. That letter is called “aae” and sounds a lot like people saying “hyaaaa” but without the “h”. Along with that, do keep in mind that when you see this symbol : the letter before it is pronounced a bit longer than the rest.
1. Bhailo Dya (भैल: द्यो) (Pronounced as: bhai – la – d- ya/भै – ल – द् – य)
This is the Newari Name for the Bhairav. One thing to be noted is that “Dyo” in Newari means “Dev” or a “god” so this technically means “bhailo God” or “ lord Bhairav”
2. Maa Dyo/ Maha Dya (मा:द्यो /माहा द्यो) (pronounced as: Ma – d- ya, ma- ha- d- ya /मा – द् – य, मा- हा – द् – य)
Regardless of which pronunciation you use, this name is the literal translation of the Nepali name for lord Shiva – Maha Dev.
3. Naasa Dya (नास: द्यो) (pronounced as: naa – sa – d- ya/ ना – स – अ – द् – य)
This is the Newari name for the Hindu Deity Nateshwar or Naath Guru. It is one of the major deities in a Newari culture which is worshipped in a lot of pujas.
4. Chiba Dya (चिबा द्यो) (pronounced as: chi-baa – d- ya / चि – बा- द् – य)
This is a Newari name for a combination of gods arranged in a stupa-like formation. It has 4 deities each representing 4 cardinal directions. It is also called mini stupa.
5. Gane Dya (गने द्यो) (pronounced as: ga-ne – d- ya/ ग- ने – द् – य)
This is the Newari name for the Hindu God – Lord Ganesh. As you may have guessed, this name is a shortened version of Ganesh combined with a Newari term for God/lord.
6. Bunga Dya (बुङ्ग द्यो) (pronounced as: bu-n-ga – d- ya / बु – न् – ग – द् – य)
If you live in Lalitpur or near it, you already know which god this name belongs to. It is the Newari name for the Hindu God Machhindara Nath. This alternatively also means the lord of Bunga as Bunga is the shortened version of the name Bungamati which is a place on the southern side of Lalitpur.
7. Chakhwa Dya (चख्वा द्यो) (pronounced as: cha-kh-wa – d- ya / छ – ख् – वा- द् – य)
Chakhwa Dyo is the Newari name for the Hindu God of Minnath. This lord is said to be the mother of Machhindranath. During Jatras, the chariot of Chakhwa Dyo accompanies the Charriot of Bunga Dyo.
8. Machiko Bhairav (मचिको भैरव) (pronounced as: ma-chi-ko-bhai-ra-v/म – चि – को – भै – र – व)
This is the Newari name for the Hindu God, Batuk Bhairav. If you live anywhere near Lalitpur, you should know that this is not only a name for the god but also a landmark and a temple as well.
9. Diga Dya (दीग द्यो) (pronounced as: di – ga – d- ya / दी – ग – द् – य)
In every Newari community, there is a Mul Dev and it is called Diga Dyo. This is one of the main deities in Newari communities and is one of the first ones to be worshipped in any form of major ritual.
10. Maru Gane Dya (मरु गने द्यो) (pronounced as:ma-ru- ga-ne – d- ya / म- रु ग- ने – द् – य)
This is one of those cases where the name of a place becomes as significant as the lord and is attached to it. This is a term used for the Specific Lord Ganesh located at Maru of Kathmandu.
11. Kunchi Maha Dya (कुंची माहा द्यो) (pronounced as: ku-n-chii-ma- ha- d- ya /कु – न् – ची- मा- हा – द् – य)
Although this name has Maha Dyo attached to it, this lord has very little connection with Lord Shiva. This is the name for the lord who resides in the ponds and lakes.
12. Sasu maaju Dya / Sasmaha Dya ( सस्सु माहा द्यो /सस्मा द्यो) (pronpounced as: sa- s- su- ma- ha – d-ya, sa- s – ma- d- ya/स – स् – सु – मा – हा – द् – य /स – स् – मा – द् – य)
Regardless of which name you call it, this is the Newari name for the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. It is one of the significant Goddesses in the Newari community and the day of Saraswati Puja is celebrated widely with music and picnic.
13. Bhim Dya (भिम द्यो) (pronounced as: Bhi – m – d – ya/ भि- म – द् – य)
This name is just the shortened version of the name for lord Bhimsen. As we have mentioned, Dyo is a Newari term that means Lord of a God.
14. Pinga Dya (पिङ्ग द्यो) (pronounced as: pi – n – ga – d- ya / पी – न् – ग – द् – य
This is the Newari term for the Gurudev Siddha Peeth. There are 12 Pinga Dyo spread across Kathmandu Valley.
Side note* dyo is a shortened version of Dega. While this is the technical part, in practicality, dyo is often used to represent the lord while Dega is often used to mean Temple.
Before we Go,
Before we go, let’s take a few moments of silence for all those Newari names for the Hindu Gods that are lost and are rarely heard.
Jokes apart, the Newari language is a unique language that spans a long time. Any language that spans more than a few generations are bound to come across changes over time and some words are bound to get lost in time. Regardless it is our duty as Nepali citizens to protect as many traditional languages as possible – not just Newari.
Hope this was helpful and educating for you. And as always thank you for reading till the end. If you have any suggestions for us, do let us know in the comments below.