Aug 12, 2017-The age-old cultural practice of the Nil Barahi Dance, which has been continually observed for the past 1500 years, kicked off in Bode, from Wednesday night. The ritual is observed every day at midnight for four days a year.
Starting from Dyochhen, which literally translates into the “God’s Abode”, the dancers travel through Devgan Layaku Tole, to Lachhi Tole, Layaku, Bishnughat, Mahalaxmi Sthan, and Bhangu Tole, before coming to a close at Khaansi Tole. The dancers take the same route back and the performance culminates in a climactic joint ceremony. During the ritual, the participants stride through the gallis donned in masks, and accompanied by a band of traditional musical instruments.
The custom, as jovial as it is, is notorious for the grueling physical toil the dancers have to undergo through the three-days-and-four-nights of the festival. Participating dancers have to perform continually for 12 to 18 hours daily, with little rest. “Dancers are not allowed to sit during the proceeding, neither are they allowed to eat or to touch anybody,” Kanchha Ghole, the principal guru, informed about the ritual’s stringent rules.
This year, the ritual witnesses a total of 89 participants—which makes the Nil Barahi Dance a ritual with the highest number of active participants among the Valley’s traditional masked dances.
The fest commences two days after the Gai Jatra which is celebrated every year on Bhadra Shukla Pratipada. As myths have it, the ritual is observed in commemoration of the teaching that Lord Nil Barahi imparted to the denizens of Bode.
Text and Photos: Saurav Thapa Shrestha
Published: 12-08-2017 08:59