Retiring Jujubhai seeks successor

  • bode tongue piercing
- Anup Ojha, Bhaktapur
Retiring Jujubhai seeks successor

Apr 17, 2015-

For the last seven years, Jujubhai Basan Shrestha has been the central figure of the annual tongue piercing festival celebrated at Bode, Bhaktapur, on the occasion of Bisket Jatra.

Now, the 36-year-old wishes to hand over his role to a new generation. But finding a volunteer willing to have a 10-inch long skewer pierced through his tongue will be difficult. Jujubhai knows this very well. He himself had agreed to volunteer as none of the young men in Bode were up for it.

“Someone had to give continuity to this century-old tradition of ours,” Jujubhai said.

The tongue piercing festival of Bode, which is believed to have started 101 years ago, is observed to ward off evil spirits and calamities. Cultural expert Om Dhaubhadel said the festival re-enacts the story of a demon who was captured by a sorcerer named Ashaju and paraded around the town with a long needle piercing its tongue.

“The festival is only observed in Bode, and the person piercing his tongue must be a native,” Dhaubhadel said.

Jujubhai is the twelfth person to volunteer in the festival. He succeeded Buddhi Krishna Baga who pierced his tongue for four times.

For Jujubhai, piercing his tongue for the festival was also a matter of honouring his family legacy; his grandfather Harka Narsingh Basan had pierced his tongue for an astounding 22 times.

Jujubhai said he would have followed his grandfather’s footsteps had he not bled from his tongue this year. “It’s considered a bad omen to bleed,” he said. “My tongue never troubled me in the past.”

He was left with a lingering pain in his tongue after volunteering for this year’s festival. Worried about his condition, Jujubhai’s family has also advised him to hand down the tradition to someone else.

But Jujubhai doubts there is anyone willing to fill in his shoes. Many residents in Bode do not differ. “I’ve seen people cringing at the sight of Jujubhai with a needle running right through his tongue during the festival,” a Bode local said. “We are worried that the tradition will end with Jujubhai deciding to opt out after seven years.”

Published: 18-04-2015 08:30

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