Six-month long historic Navadurga Naach commences

BHAKTAPUR: The historic Navadurga Naach (Dance), also known as the 'fish killing festival', has kicked off in Suryamadhi of Bhaktapur from Monday, the first day of Magh as per the Nepali calendar.

This historic dance was originated during the Malla period and has tantric origins.

The dance will be performed in 21 places including Dattatraya, Kwathandau and Gachen of the Bhaktapur Municipality alone till January 29.

Thereafter, the festival will be observed in Sankhu for four days before taking it to Changunarayan. It will conclude on the day of Bhalbhal Astami in the month of Shrawan, according to festival organising committee secretary Ratnaman Banmala .

The dance is performed in various places including Tamuadhi, Talako, pottery square, Nasamana, Gahinti, Kwachhe, Tibukche, Sukuldhoka, Durbar Square, Khauma, and Itacche among others in Bhaktapur, the district famous for various festivals and Sanga, Nala, Dhulikhel, Shreekanthapur, and Kharpu among others in its neighbouring district of Kavrepalanchowk.

This dance is performed bare feet by Devganas (special dancers selected for the operation of the festival). They have to collect funds through cash offerings made by devotees.

The culture is forced to depend on donations and offerings made at various temples for its survival following the apathetic responses of the concerned authorities like the government, and Bhaktapur Municipality in this regard, they said. For running the festival that started on Monday this year, Devganas themselves have come out into the streets to collect donations from pedestrians, shops and vehicles.

Out of the 19 members constituting the team, a total of 12 masked devganas will perform the dance.

They will dance manifesting the different forms of Hindu god and goddesses like Bhairav, Mahakali, Barahi, Ganesh, Brahmayani, Kumari, Maheshwori, Bhadrakali, Indrayani, Dhumbha Singh, Mahadev, and Shwet Bhairav.

The audience will tease them with words 'Aa Aa Aa', and they will chase them in return. If a spectator is caught in the process, he or she has to pay money in fine.

The performers are forced to discontinue studies, jobs and may struggle with various health problems during the festival. So the government must set aside budget to conduct the expensive festival, provide free health check-ups for them and jobs to their families, they have demanded.