Gathan-Muga 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Amongst a hundreds of festivals in the valley, Gathan-muga festival too carries lots of details and its own importance. The Gathan-muga festival (known variously as Gathemuangal and Ghantakarna) actually represents a ritual detoxification of the city, when evil spirits are banished outside the urban limits. Lots of the street intersections on the day of the festival can be found with effigies erected of the Gathan-muga (as a symbol of demon). In the evening time, a man wearing war-paint type of color all over his body goes out begging for money in his area of the city throughout the different shops and houses. Lots of other children will follow him with some kind of rhyming song used to beg money in the name of god. At the end of the day, the effigy is taken down. The painted man is made to sit on the effigy and the neighborhood kids drag it away to the river near them, mostly Bishnumati River being closet to the valley. In Bhaktapur, the effigy is burnt in the middle of the street.

Being the native of the valley, mostly Newars celebrate this festival. Householders place pots of cooked rice at the crossroads as food for the demons. Another happening ritual is before locking up the house for the night, nails are hammered into the door lintel because it is believed that the spooks and the demons are supposed to be terrified of iron. People also put iron mixed rings into their fingers to keep the spooks and demons away this day.

This festival can be considered as the beginning of all the other ones, as after this festival lots of others will follow. Newars will have lots of festival going on after Gathan-muga festival. Within a week there will be at least 1-2 feasts going on after this festival and each having their own meaning and a different god to be remembered and worshipped. This year Gathan-muga was on the 11th of August.

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