The indigenous Kirat community of Nepal came together on Saturday to celebrate their new year and perform the Sakela Dance in person.
Hundreds of Kirati community members gathered on the ground just next to the Army Pavilion, commonly known as Tundikhel dancing and praying to the god with the onset of the harvest festival which is also known as Ubhauli.
Kirat men and women clad in traditional attire are observing the festival by beating the drums, cymbals and imitating the activities of birds and other animals and exchanging greetings with each other. This festival is celebrated by worshipping the land and ancestors in hopes of getting better crops, health and property.
"Ubhauli festival signifies the start of plantation of crops, it means pushing upward we set up our main god for worship and it is the worship of our community's main god. We come together in traditional attire bringing our homemade liquors and coming to worship the god. The time to sow or plant the crops is celebrated as Ubhauli, and then comes the Mangsir Purnima (around November), when we harvest our crops which is celebrated as Udhauli. Now we are praying for better harvest, better future of our children and their progress," Ambika Rai, one of the revellers present in the mass celebration of the festival told ANI.
Ubhauli is celebrated every year on Baishak Sulka Purnima, on the same day as Buddha Purnima/ Buddha Jayanti in the Nepali month of Baishak (April-May). Traditionally the Kirat people used to climb up to the mountains in summer to avoid the heat and malaria (epidemic) after performing the Ubhauli rituals. During these traditional rituals, they worship their ancestors and nature, seeking better wealth and crops.
"Sakela has high significance and importance, it has been danced and followed for the ages but inside the Rai community itself, the tradition of Sakela dance is slowly facing the threat of extinction. In the previous years, in Kathmandu, we didn't use to celebrate the Sakela as we celebrate it now. When I was first here in Kathmandu, we were not allowed to observe it here on this ground but now the restriction has been removed and we are celebrating it with fervour and gaiety," Nir Bahadur Rai, another reveller told ANI.
The Kirat have a strong belief in dead ancestors and nature. They believe that ancestors would get angry if they are not properly worshipped. These rituals are practised in the same way as in the old time. However, the practice or trend of climbing up and down during summer and winter has been stopped these days.
A large mass of people of different ages wear traditional dresses and perform a dance together in the circle. (ANI)