Lalitpur, October 3
The 350-year-old traditional dance; Gaan: Pyakhan of Lalitpur also known as Asta Matrika Naach commenced from the day of Ghatasthapana and will continue for 11 days in accordance with the centuries’ old Dashain rituals.
Gaan: Pyakhan is a traditional dance of Patan locals in which the Shakyas and Bajracharyas from the Newari community engaging actively. Rajendra Shakya, rajguru (dance teacher), said the eight gods, namely, Kumari, Indirayeni, Bhramayani, Maheswor, Barahi, Ganesh, Chamunda and Mahalaxmi perform their traditional dance rituals. He said, “Today, the dance involves eight gods and goddesses and is named asta, but originally, there were altogether 13 gods, including, Bhairav, Kumar, Simhini, Vhyagrihi, Vaishanavi.”
The naach was introduced during the Malla Regime by Malla king Nivash Malla some 350 years ago.
According to a well-documented myth, Nivash Malla dreamt of the mother goddess dancing in his royal court, Mulchowk. The very next morning upon awakening, he decreed that the auspicious dance was to be performed for the country. In this Pyakhan, 13 Dev Gad (dancers) and 13 Pancha Tal (dance teachers and traditional musicians) are involved. Each of the 13 Dev Gad represents a character of the related gods and goddesses and is differentiated through colours such as Simhini – white, Bhairav – blue, Ganesh – white, Kumara – red, Brahmayani – ash Colour, Barahi – red, Indrayani – yellow, Mahalaxmi – yellow, Kaumari – red, Vaishanavi – green, Mahakali/Chamunda – red, and Rudrayani – white and Vhyagrihi – yellow. “To maintain purity and honour the deities, all dancers have to cut their hair and fast for a day before the dances begin,” said Sailendra Shakya, one of the performers. “Performing the naach decked up heavily in traditional attire and mask can prove to be very challenging,” said Sailendra Shakya. He said, “We are not allowed to take off the mask until we finish the performance, which will last for 11 days.” From the beginning to the second last day, all the dancers perform solo and on the last day, they merge performance.
A version of this article appears in print on October 04, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.