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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Gathemangle a festival to celebrate

Gathemangle is a traditional festival of the newars. On the day a special dish – Samaya- of garlic, onion, flattened, meat, and beans is served at homes. Dummies of the demons 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 dummy is dragged to the nearby river bank for disposal with the painted man sitting on it. !" People offer the dummy food and meat.
On this day, houses are cleaned and dirt is dumped outside in the night, symbolic of throwing evils away from the residences. After cleaning the houses, Bou, a special set of food, is offered to the spirits, followed by hammering three-legged iron nails at the main entrance of the houses to keep evil spirits away.
People wear iron rings to prevent them from the devil Ghanta Karna who devours humans, especially children.

This festival celebrates the exorcism of the mythical demon Ghantakarna that haunted the villages and city. According to a local legend  Ghantakarna was a Demon that terrorized  the public by stealing their children and womenfolk. The demon was marked with  painted body in red, blue, and black and had bells on his ears. due to these bells, he was called Ghanta (bell) Karna (ears).

The festival is celebrated by acting out the legendary drama in the streets. To begin with, children from every neighborhood collect money from passerby, which is then used to make an effigy of the demon. While this effigy remains in the center of a rough tent-like structure erected from bamboo poles, one man impersonates Ghantakarna by smearing himself with paint and roaming the streets with a begging bowl asking for donations. At the end of the day, the person imitating Ghantakarna is placed on the bamboo poles, now taken down, and is dragged to a nearby river. This colorful festival, though celebrated mostly only in the Newar community, is especially fun-filled for children. They run around the effigy laughing gaily and enjoying them thoroughly.

During this festival people worship and offer sacrifices to demons, serpents and other supernatural and natural elements like wind, water and fire since time of inceptions to get rid of evil powers and the legendary demons.


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