Mask dance heralds Dashain celebrations

Kathmandu, September 23 :

As part of celebrating the ten-day Dashain festival and worshipping goddesses, the Newar communities today took out masked dancers masquerading as goddesses and danced on the streets and traditional pedestal.

Marking the first night of Navaratra, a nine-day long Gan Pyakhan, the dance of 13 Hindu deities that includes Astamartika- eight goddesses, Ganesh and Kumar started today from Nakabahil late in the evening. The performers of Gan Pyakhan after a special puja, danced all the way to Mulchowk at the Patan Durbar square.

“The dance will continue for nine days. A special dance will be performed at Nakabahil on Dashami to mark its conclusion,” said Satya Mohan Joshi, a cultural expert.

History has it that King Sriniwas Malla in his dream had seen Astramatrika on the premises

of the Patan Durbar square and thereby began the tradition.

The residents of Khokana, worship the goddess Rudrayani, temple located at the centre of the town, known as Shikali Ajima. “A ten-day festival of Rudrayan is the biggest festival they celebrate so far during which they carry out masked dances, different religious practices,” said Madan Maharjan, a local of Khokana.

Maharjan said the eldest resident from Khokana, performs special rituals to the goddess for four consecutive days and takes out masked dancers of Goddess Rudrayyani from the temple.

“From the fifth day, a dozen of masked dancers, in guises of different Hindu deities, walk along the streets and perform dance. The jatra is concluded by placing the idols and their belonging in their respective places, which is done on the eighth and ninth day,” he added.

The residents of Kirtipur also witness the masked dances of goddess Indrayani on the tenth day at Ta Natole neighbourhood in Kirtipur, said a seventy-year-old Tika Ram Maharjan, local of Kirtipur. Dagini, a male masked dancer masquerading in a female get-up and two comedians, accompanies the goddess, said Maharjan.