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Sikali Jatra, an alternative for Dashain for people of Khokana in Nepal


Sikali Jatra celebrations in Lalitpur, Nepal

Lalitpur [Nepal], October 23 (ANI): Known for its cultural identity and mustard oil, Khokana, a medieval Newari heritage village in the Southern part of Kathmandu Valley celebrates the Sikali Jatra instead of the Dashain Festival.
Observed for a period of five days, the Sikali Jatrais are dedicated to goddess “Shikali” who also is known as “Ajima” or Mother Goddess. It is believed that Gods and Goddesses in human form take flights as they tour around the Sikali temple which is located at a grassy hill just outside the village.
“Jatrastarts from the day of Ghatasthapana, we don’t have a tradition of wearing the Jamara or tika,” Bekhanar Maharjan, one of the priests around Newar village of Khokana in Lalitpur District of Kathmandu Valley told ANI.
The ritual starts with Goddess Rudrayani or Sikali being carried in a wooden chariot throughout the village and rested in front of the temple in Khokana along with various religious copper vessels.
The Jatrawitnesses “Tantric” rituals along with masked dances garbed in colorful attires during the festival represent 14 gods and goddesses of the Hindu Pantheon. Priests clad in white robes along with 14 masked deities come together to perform the dance.
It is believed that goddesses protect their town from misfortunes and prevent calamities and also, it is regarded as the occasion for the farmers to rejoice in the post-harvest season. The dances shown in due course of Jatra is based on various religious beliefs and perception.
“There are two practices of dance that are performed during the Jatra. One depicts the search for a monster and end of it and the other is based on Swosthani. In dance based on Swosthani, it has a major showcase about Mahadev, Parbati, Kumar, Ganesh and other deities. Mahadev and Parbati hold a competition between Kumar and Ganesh about reaching the Sumeru Parbat and whosoever reaches there would get an incentive. Kumar gets ready to go there stating he has wings to fly. He gets injured on his way to the jungle as his wings were all hurt, for not being able to get through, he cries a lot,” Maharjan said.
“A Lakhe comes out from the Jungle to prey on him. Meanwhile, Hanuman gets to know about it and reaches out to Kumar and a big fight ensues in between them with no one winning at the end. They both get tried and stop the fight. On the other hand, Ganesh also gets worried about his brother who had disappeared long ago and introspecting about his brother’s whereabout reaches there. The Lakhe then realizes that they are not real humans, they are Gods and claps for them,” Maharjan added.
A dance is performed on the last day of the five-day celebrations as it is believed to be linked with the origin of the city of Khokana and it is also believed to have been founded by King Amar Malla during the 15th Century of the Medieval Malla Era.
King Amar Mallaback in the time migrated the Maharjan and Dangol family residing in PachaliBhairav to Khokana for catering and maintaining the temple. During the foundation of the Kingdom, the city was known to be as Jitapur.
Malla during their reign established various temples dedicated to the Matrika’s(Mother Goddesses), to protect their individual temples from various epidemics, illness and protect their kingdom. Malla kings back in the time are said to have built eight AstaMatrika’s temple in eight cardinal directions on the border of each kingdom.
It is believed that the town of Khokana came into existence after the establishment of Sikali Temple or the Goddess Rudrayani in the Newar Pantheon, worshipped as one of the Matrika’s. (ANI)

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