Kathmandu, April 15
Buddha Krishna Baga Shrestha pierced his tongue today for the seventh time during the famous Jibro Chhedne Jatra (tongue piercing festival) at Bode, Madhyapur Thimi.
The tongue piercing festival is part of Bisket Jatra that is celebrated by people of Newar community in Bhaktapur district. Bisket Jatra is celebrated on the day of the Nepali New Year. Baga Shrestha got his tongue pierced after the lingo (wooden pole) erected at Bhelukhel, Bhaktapur, was taken down. Shrestha, 47, had volunteered to get his tongue pierced for four consecutive years from 2005 to 2008 and then he volunteered to do so in the year 2017 and 2018 also.
According to cultural expert Lochan Shrestha, only people from the Shrestha clan of Bode can pierce the tongue. The needle which is used for piercing the tongue is almost a foot long and is soaked in oil for one month before the ritual is carried out. The person who volunteers to get his tongue pierced will have to fast for three days before the event.
It is believed that the festival started in ancient times when a demon that roamed around the Nil Barahi temple started giving trouble to the locals of Bode. The priests and tantriks then caught the demon and pierced his tongue and made him promise before Nil Barahi that he would never hurt people again. Though there is no concrete evidence, many people believe that the festival first started in the Licchavi era.
The festival has been celebrated from ancient time in the town, but the locals only have the record of volunteers of the last 100 years.
Harka Narsingh Shrestha was the first man who volunteered to get his tongue pierced. He got his tongue pierced during the festival for 22 consecutive years.
Before Buddhi Krishna, Juju Bhai Basan Shrestha had volunteered to pierce his tongue for eight consecutive years.
A version of this article appears in print on April 16, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.