Bhaktapur, June 27 :

In order to preserve the popular mask dance of the Newar community, the Culture Heritage Nepal Mandal will organise a first ever, month-long national mask dance conference here. The conference will start

from August (after Ghate Mangal) and will end on September 6 (Indrajatra) this year.

“Owing to financial constraints and lack of interest of the younger generation in organising the mask dance, the dances do not take place as frequently as before,” Ganesh Ram Lachhe, president of Madhyapur Art Council told this daily. “Mask dance is a unique culture and has to be preserved at any cost as it has religious as well as traditional values attached to it.”

Around 60 dance groups will be participating in the conference. The six groups from Bhaktapur alone will showcase Bhairab Dance. Devi dance of Shankhu, Akash Bhairab dance of Halchowk, Kartik dance of Pharping, Nava Durga of Thecho and Nava Durga dance of Kirtipur, too, will be shown in the conference. Some mask dances which are performed only during certain occasions will not be shown. Some mask dances are shown at least 40 times a year, while few dances are shown once in 12 years.

Lachhe said that few districts have already stopped organising such dances due to financial constraints and lack of interest in them.

“The mask dance became popular during the Malla regime as a means of entertainment along with religious faith in the dance,” said Lachhe.

In Tistung of Makwanpur, a mask dance was organised this year after 25 year. Kumari Dance of Dolakha, too, is on the verge of extinction as the dance is shown only once or twice a year while it used to be shown frequently some years ago.

Mask dance is organised in 12 districts namely Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Makwanpur and 8 districts of Bagmati Zone.

“During the Malla regime, there used to be a tough competition among the Kings in the valley for organising such mask dances,” said Lachee.