Monday, August 23, 2010

Gunhi Punhi (Janai Purnima)

Monday, August 23, 2010
Most of the Newar festivals have special foods to offer. Looking back at the festivals they celebrate, it is not so hard to find out that they celebrate every festival according the foods they produce. All the friends and families gathered around together and offer servings of the foods provided in different season in and they have different festivals for different foods they have. Likewise, the special menu for Gunhi Punhi is Kwati. Hence the day is also called Kwati Punhi, where Kwati is a soup of different beans and Punhi means the full moon day. Lots of Newars do put the yellow sacred threads around the wrists which are to be taken off on the day of Laxmi Puja, another festival in Tihar, about two months after this festival.

Composition of Kwati ( Traditional Soup )

Today, thousands of devotees worship Lord Shiva at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu and at Kumbheswor in Lalitpur and take holy dips in ponds and lakes. Religious fairs are held at Gosaikunda, an Alpine area in Rasuwa district, and at Dansangu Triveni in Jumla district to observe the festival with offerings of worship to Lord Shiva.


A big religious fair takes place at Gosaikund Lake. On the occasion, worshippers come from far places to take a ritual holy dip in the Gosaikund Lake and other nearby lakes.
According to time honoured tradition, people receive the "Rakshya Bandhan" thread tied around the wrist. The yellow thread is purified by the chanting of Mantras by Brahmins as a symbol of protection from fear and disease.

Raksha bandhan

On Janai Purnima, a full moon day, Bramhan ( High cast ) chant the powerful Gayatri Mantra and change their Sacred thread (janai), while a rakshya bandhan, a red or yellow protection cord, is tied around the wrists of other Hindus and Buddhists. Pilgrims journey to the mountains north of Kathmandu.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gathe Mangal Chaturdashi

Saturday, August 7, 2010
Gathe Mangal (or Ghanta Karna Chaturdashi)
This fun filled festival of the Newar of Kathmandu Valley falls during the month of July/August. It is associated with the exorcism of the devil Ghanta Karna or Gathan-Muga demon. Effigies of the demon are erected at street crossroads. People place pots of cooked rice at such intersections for him. A man wearing black and blue paint all over his body goes about begging for money. At the end of the day, the effigy is dragged to the nearby river bank for disposal with the painted man sitting on it. To get rid of evil powers and the legendry demons people have been worshipping and offering sacrifices to demons, serpents and other supernatural and natural elements like wind, water and fire since ancient times. Ghanta Karna was a legendry demon who spread havoc among the people. This festival is held to commemorate the death of that demon.

On this day, people also wear metal rings called gathemangalko aunthi. The ring is believed to have the power to safeguard people from all ills and evil spirits. Before nightfall, the locals hammer three legged nails onto the door lintels to scare away the ghosts. There are various legends and myths attached to the Ghanta Karna devil that is revered as well as feared.
Gathe Mangal is one of those typical Newar festivals of the Kathmandu Valley. The valley is a kind of melting pot where people from different regions following various customs and traditions have come together and settled down since ancient days. Kathmandu was an urban town and commercial center even in the medieval days. This could be the reason why people are found observing one or the other kind of festivals throughout the year in the Valley.
On the day children erect effigies of the demon- Ghanta Karna- at cross roads. The effigy is called Gathe Mangal and it is made of bamboo, branches of plants and dry maze plant. When somebody passes by the side of the effigy the children collect fax, called, Jagaat, from him in the name of Ghanta Karna. If anybody hesitates to give the tax the children being to shout calling him the grandson of the demon -"see the grandson of Gathe Mangal coming!" People offer the effigy food and meat. Girls offer their thresholds to get rid of the evil powers.

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