Kathmandu, April 15

Buddha Krishna Baga Shrestha today got his tongue pierced for the eighth time in the famous tongue piercing festival at Bode of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, Bhaktapur. This festival is celebrated on Baisakh 2 of the Bikram Sambat calendar as a part of the Biska Jatra.

Shrestha, 48, had worked as a volunteer to get his tongue pierced for four consecutive years from 2005 to 2008 and later for three years in a row from 2017 to 2019. Last year, the festival was only limited to formal offerings by a limited number of priests due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, however, people of Bhaktapur had objected to the authorities' decision to ban public celebration of the festival and a writ petition was filed at the Supreme Court. Later, the apex court had given order to the authorities citing that it was the people's right to celebrate the festival.

A person wishing to pierce his tongue has to be from the Shrestha clan of the Newar community. Before Baga Shrestha, Juju Bhai Basan Shrestha had volunteered to pierce his tongue for eight consecutive years. On the day of the festival, a one-foot long needle soaked in oil for a month is pierced through the tongue of the volunteer amid much fanfare. Before undergoing the tongue piercing ritual, one has to fast for three days.

Bode locals believe that the jatra will bring wealth and prosperity to them, prevent famine and other natural disasters such as earthquakes. The festival has been celebrated from the Licchavi era since around 1,000 years ago.