BHAKTAPUR, Aug 10: The birth anniversary of Lord Shree Krishna, believed to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and hero of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, falls on the 25th of Shrawan this year. Devotees visit Krishna temples all over the country and receive blessings.
The day is also known as Krishna Jayanti or Janmashtami. According to Hindu mythology, Krishna was born at midnight inside a jail, where an evil maternal uncle Kansa held his parents captive.
Devotees solemnize the festival with lots of joy and enthusiasm. The celebration of this day is quite unique in the ancient city of Bhaktapur, variously renowned as ´City of Culture´, a ´Living Heritage´ and ´Nepal´s cultural capital´. In Bhaktapur, where jatras very likely equal the number of days in the calendar, the day marks the end of Gaijatra.
Devotees at Krishna Mandir, Patan. (Photo: Prajwol Sijapati)
On this auspicious day people not only go around all the holy temples of Lord Krishna, they also walk the streets and alleys with lighted sukunda diyo (lights) in their hands and on their heads and shoulders.
According to culture expert Om Dhaubhadel, girls wear the hakuparasi - a traditional Newari costume - with sukunda diyo in their hands and males in ´daura and kasacha´ also carry the diyo, either on the head or shoulder or on the palm of the hand, as they make the rounds in a very self-conscious manner. Some four people accompany the diyo carrier to safeguard the precious diyo.
Dhaubhadel cites a saying that people believe their wishes will come true if they do this on the great occasion of Krishna Janmastami.
Adding a lighter touch to a somber occasion, different groups go around clashing together sticks they hold in their hands. Visitors can watch and enjoy masked dances and items of slapstick and satire held at different public spaces and squares.
During the eight days of the Gaijatra celebrations people deal with the realities of life and death with a touch of humour. There is Ghintanghising-Dandikhel, a stick dance performed to the music of dhimebaja (a drum-like instrument) and there are men dressed up as women or whatever. Political satire and parody is in the air, and tons of traditional dances and music are matched by the eating and drinking. Basically the whole city just lets itself go.
This year Bhaktapur Municipality has organized the ´Gaijatra Festival 2069´ to encourage music and dance. In the words of Damodar Suwal, the municipality is evaluating all the cultural performances during the eight days and the three best will be given attractive cash prizes under different categories.
The competing dances included LakhePyakhan, MakkaaPyakhan, GainchaPyakhan, Devi Pyakhan, Radha Krishna Pyakhan, khyala, BhailaPyakhan, LuciPyakhan, FakandaliPyakhan, NagachaPyakhan, NatuwachaPyakhan,KalaliPyakhan, JangaliPyakhan, BhaluPyakhan, KhichaPyakhan, Kyapyakhan, KawachaPyakhan, Hanuman Pyakhan, MhekhaPyakhan and KijapujaPyakhan. These were evaluated for costumes, acting, music, discipline, etc.