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Chapter Thirteen The Events of the Lunar Year
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Chapter Thirteen
The Events of the Lunar Year

Introduction

The great majority of the annual events in Bhaktapur's yearly collection of calendrically determined events are determined by the lunar calendar. The sequence of these events constitutes a cycle in the dictionary sense of "a period in which a certain round of events or phenomena is completed, recurring in the same order in equal succeeding periods." So defined, the solar events form a cycle of their own, as their position within the lunar sequence varies from year to year. Do the events of the lunar year form a cycle in the literary sense of a group of poems, myths, tales, and the like with a common theme and, perhaps, some integrated structure? Quests for an overall structure of the events of the lunar year—such as Gaborieau's (1952), which we discussed in the previous chapter—suppose that they do form a cycle in this latter sense. One group of lunar events—which we call the "Devi cycle"—is of major and central importance to Bhaktapur precisely as a clearly integrated annual thematic cycle, taking much of its meaning and tempo from the cycle of rice agriculture, and carrying some of the most powerful "messages" in support (as we shall argue) of the symbolic integration of the city, and we have isolated it for extensive treatment in a later chapter. In the present chapter we will note when the events of the Devi cycle take place, but will defer their discussion. We may expect that some of the residual events of the lunar cycle with their historically determined calendrical position may have relatively isolated signifi-


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cance. Others are related to each other and the larger cycle as smaller thematic groupings or, more significantly, in terms of formal similarities and contrasts, expressing some kind of structure or rhythm within the year.

In the chapters on calendrical events we face the problem of what to present about particular events. Any major calendrical event would in itself require special studies and a volume to describe and interpret it in something like full detail. We will present in this and the following two chapters the details necessary for the purposes of our arguments about Bhaktapur's civic religion, swollen by occasional additional ethnographic description, particularly in those events that are either unique to Bhaktapur or of special importance there.

The numbers given in brackets following the names of individual events in the next three chapters indicate the sequence of the events in the entire annual calendar. The solar events are numbered according to their position within the lunar calendar of 1973/76. Although this chapter discusses only those events of the lunar year aside from the Devi cycle, all lunar and solar events are noted in this chapter to take account of the overall collection of events (see also app. 5).

Swanti and the Lunar New Year [77, 78, 79, 1, 2]

It is the lunar New Year's Day[1] that begins the fundamental year—the sequence of lunar months, the basic calendar within which the solar events are variously located from year to year. As P. V. Kane writes, the lunar New Year "in ancient times . . . began in different months in different countries [in South Asia] and for different purposes" (1968-1977, vol. V, p. 569). At present the lunar year begins in India, for the most part, in Caitra (March/April) or Kartika (October/November). The Indo-Nepalese year begins in Caitra. The Newar lunar year begins in Kartika, a time which, in its contrast to the Indo-Nepalese New Year, is considered in Bhaktapur to be a distinctively Newar practice, and with an event, Mha Puja [1], which is considered to be a uniquely Newar event. The New Year's Day falls on the fourth day of a five-day set of events called "Swanti."

Although "Swanti" refers to the five-day sequence, it is said to be derived from swanhi , "three days," that is, the last three days of the sequence—the day before the new year, the New Year's Day and the


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succeeding day.[2] Alternative scholarly names, such as Pa(n)carata, referring to the entire five days, are much less used. The festival is related to and derived from the South Asian Laksmi festival, Divali or Dipavali (the "Festival of lights"), a festival that is also associated with the lunar New Year in some other parts of South Asia such as Gujarat, where the lunar New Year is "inseparable from and part of the Diva1i celebrations" (Gnanambal 1967, 6).

The five days of Swanti are characterized by a unity of themes and significant forms. They emphasize in both form and in theme the existence and importance of relations within the household. The core reference is to the feminine—sisterly, wifely, maternal—centrality in the emotional and physical life and the economic management of the household. The supportive role of women is related to the benign goddess Laksmi, and placed in opposition to a destruction represented by the personification of death as Yama and his messengers. The Newars begin their month, and thus their new lunar year, with the bright, waxing lunar fortnight. Therefore, Swanti's first three days are at the end of the dark fortnight, ending in the dark, new moon, and the New Year's Day events of Mha Puja come at the first day of the waxing lunar fortnight of Kachalathwa.

During the weeks preceding and following Swanti there are activities in most households which set some of the context for the Swanti ceremonies. Oil lamps are placed on the ka:si , the open porch on an upper floor, which is also the principal site of the worship on the first two days of the Swanti sequence. In some households the pikha lakhu , the deified stone marking the boundary of the house, has also been worshiped during the preceding weeks as it will be in the course of the Swanti ceremonies. Family members go to the ka:si to worship swarga , "heaven." Children are expected to take important parts in this worship. In some houses during this period the individual rooms of the house are worshiped and offerings are made. Oil lamps are placed, often by children, on the pikha lakhu , in the various rooms of the house, and on the ka:si . Children, house, household, and the boundaries of the household with an encircling world are emphasized. The world encircling the household—in contrast, as we will see later, to the Devi cycle's world encircling the city—is a moral world.

These preliminary activities are echoed in the events of Swanti itself. The first two days of the sequence, which are the last two days of the lunar year, are respectively, Kwa (sometimes alternatively spelled Ko ) Puja [77] and Khica Puja [78], namely, "Crow Puja" and "Dog Puja."


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Both of these creatures are understood here as "messengers" or agents of Yama, the ruler of the realm of death, as they are similarly conceived in the course of rituals following death. On the day of Crow Puja an offering is made on the ka:si . Flowers, oil-lamp wicks, incense, uncooked unhusked rice, ceremonial threads, and bits of cooked vegetarian food are placed within a mandala[*] that is drawn on the floor of the ka:si . Crows frequently come to carry off some of the food. There are no worship activities outside of the house. Kwa Puja, like all the events of Swanti, is related to the city in parallel fashion; similar units, households, are doing very much the same things everywhere throughout the city at about the same time.

On this first day of Swanti gambling begins, traditionally by casting cowrie shells and now also with card games.[3] During this period the whole city gambles. Men gamble among groups of friends[4] and fellow phuki members, and men, women, and children gamble in the household. In religious interpretation the gambling of this period is a sort of puja directed to Laksmi, the goddess of household wealth. If a gambler loses money it is an offering to Laksmi, which she will later return. If the gambler wins it is a kind of prasada , an offering to the deity that has been received and returned, a sharing in the deity's substance that affirms a dependent relationship—and a consequent protective responsibility for the now parental deity. This theme is repeated in the offering of money to Laksmi during household worship on the third day of Swanti. The festive gambling is also said to be distracting and pleasing to the messengers of Yama Raja, so that they forbear to carry off any victims, a theme that will surface again during a later day of Swanti. Gambling as a reversal of household economic order is also an "anti-structural" element of a kind that we find in several other annual events.

Khica Puja, "Dog Puja," on the second day of Swanti, is observed like the Crow Puja, except that the mandala[*] and offering are placed in front of the ground or cheli level of the house, and usually eaten by stray dogs.

On the following day, the last, the new-moon day of the waning fortnight of Kaulaga, the old lunar year ends with Laksmi Puja [79].[5] Dipavali elsewhere in South Asia is (as indicated in its name), a festival of lights. Oil lamps and wicks have been important offerings on the earlier days. On this day in Bhaktapur householders place oil lamps at each window (at least two to each side of the window) two at the main door of the house, two lamps at the door of every room, two lamps on


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the ka:si , and one at the pikha lakhu . In addition, lamps are put at the door to the dukhu :, the storeroom for valuable items, which will be the site for the household puja that is performed on this day, during which offerings of light will be made to Laksmi.

The puja on Laksmi Puja, Day is a kind of apasa(n) cwanegu , a relatively simple non-Brahman-assisted household puja (app. 4). Among the offerings made to Laksmi there is a prominent offering of money. This is related to the idea of gambling as an offering. The worship of Laksmi in the dukhu : is associated with the hope of wealth and good fortune for the household in the coming year.

On the day of Laksmi Puja some members of the household will first go, as they do preceding all important household puja s, to the local neighborhood Ganesa[*] temple, to ensure effectiveness for the later worship. Upper-status families send a portion of the offerings of the household puja to their Aga(n) God, and, for those who have Taleju as an auxiliary lineage deity, to Taleju.[6] Aside from these minimal procedures, which are followed in all important household ceremonies, there is not—on this nor the other days of Swanti—any activities outside the boundaries of the household. There may be a special household dinner on this evening; it does not include the women who have married out of the household. They will return for a feast on the fifth day of the Swanti sequence.

Laksmi Puja is the first of the three main days of Swanti. On these three days the area between the pikha lakhu and the main doorway to the house is purified with cow dung. This represents a pathway for benevolent and protective deities to enter the house.

The fourth day of the five-day sequence, and the middle day of the focal final three days, is the lunar New Year's Day itself, the first day of the waxing fortnight Kachalathwa. This is Mha Puja [1], the one unit in the Swanti sequence that the Newars consider to be specific and special to themselves, not shared with other Nepalis. The term "Mha " (Kathmandu Newari, mha ), means "body," here representing the physical "seat" of each of the individuals living in the household. Essentially Mha Puja is the worshiping of each member of the household by the naki(n) , the senior active woman of the household.[7] In preparation for this ceremony, a mandala[*] is first drawn on a purified surface of the floor for each of the attending members of the household, as well as for any temporarily absent members who will be worshiped in absentia . Some households make mandalas[*] for pets living in the house, such as turtles and pet dogs. The mandalas[*] represent the human or animal body. Five


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piles of unhusked rice are placed on each mandala[*] . They represent the five mahabhuta , "great (or major) elements." This refers to the Hindu conception of "the gross elements, earth, water, fire, air, ether; of which the body is supposed to be composed and into which it is dissolved" (Macdonnell 1974, 208). A covering of leaves is placed over these piles, and various offerings are placed on it, such as beaten rice, water, ceremonial threads, flowers, incense, and lamp wicks.[8] The naki(n) worships each member of the household, first males, then females, in order of descending age, in the same way in which the benign deities are worshiped. She repeats the same sequence for each household member. She begins by putting some swaga(n) (a mixture of husked rice, curds, and pigment; see app. 4) on his or her forehead, and then presents offerings of threads, flowers, garlands, sweets, and fruits. Next the naki(n) pours the contents of a rice measuring pot, in which have been placed husked rice, popped rice, flowers, and pieces of fruit, spilling it in three successive portions over the person's head. Next the naki(n) offers the meat and fish containing mixture, samhae . This is striking as a small sacrificial gesture to the body as deity, which is at this phase treated (albeit in a minimal fashion) as a dangerous deity. The mandala[*] , which had been drawn in colored rice powder, is swept up, sometimes before, sometimes after the samhae is given, depending on the family custom. After the puja there is a feast for members of the household. The Mha Puja is interpreted as helping to ensure long life and good fortune for the household members.

The final day of the Swanti sequence is Kija Puja [2], literally "younger brother puja ." Once again the sequence follows a general Nepalese and South Asian pattern. It is on this day in Swanti that the women who have been married out of the patrilineal household return to their natal homes. The puja is, as in many places, related to a tale about a sister who was able to protect her younger brother from death. She asked death's messenger if he would delay taking her brother until she had finished worshiping him, and until the flowers and fruits that she would present as offerings to her brother had wilted, faded, and spoiled. The messenger accepted her pious request. Through her prolonged puja , and through the presentation of special kinds of flowers and fruits that did not wilt, fade, or spoil, the sister was able to prevent Yama from taking her brother's life. Although the story and the name of the puja specify a sister's relation to a younger brother, and emphasizes her protective, "maternal" behavior, all the sisters in or related to a household worship both their elder and younger brothers.[9] During the


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Kija Puja all men in the household are worshiped by their sisters, if necessary by classificatory "sisters" from the mother's brother's (paju ) family. A mandala[*] is made in front of each man, and on it are placed a number of foods and flowers that resist decay and fading. These are presented to the men by the women present, who worship them in the apasa(n) cwanegu fashion (app. 4). After the puja , brothers give sisters presents of saris and money. There is a movement of married women throughout the city, as they try to return to their natal home during this day. Sometimes, for example, for those women whose husbands live in the Terai, long journeys are necessary. For the majority of women, however, their natal homes are elsewhere in Bhaktapur, and the older women will try to return again from their natal homes to their husbands' homes at some time during the day to intercept and see their own visiting daughters. The day, and thus Swanti as a whole, ends with a feast at each house, with the returned married-out daughters participating.

The old lunar year comes to an end, and the new lunar year and its festival cycle begins with a set of calendrically specified events that center about Bhaktapur's smallest corporate unit, the household. In contrast to the extended patrilineal phuki unit with its dangerous lineage deity worshiped by Tantric and sacrificial rites, the household worship of Swanti, reflecting the focus of almost all household pujas on benign deities, becomes focused on the benign deity Laksmi, the ideal figure of the good housekeeper, and the deified members of the household, who are worshiped as benign deities—with the minor, but interesting exception of a minimal meat offering to the bodies of the household individuals. The unit emphasized throughout is the household and its members. The space is the house. The boundaries of the house and its component units are repeatedly marked during the course of Swanti. Exterior pujas are minimal—worship at the neighborhood Ganesa[*] shrine, necessary before all major household worship, and a gesture to the Aga(n) Deity in upper-status households.

The realm that is emphasized is the moral realm, the ordinary civic world of social relations. The rewards in this world and the ideal conditions for its activities are physical well-being, wealth, and security. The ultimate opposition that is emphasized to this world is here not the outside world of the demonic forces and dangerous deities beyond the borders who are the symbols of the outside in many other events (above


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all, those of the Devi cycle), but death as personified by Yama and his messengers and agents. Yama, the king of the realm of death, is a moral agent. Souls of the dead go first to his realm, where the reckoning is made as to whether they will proceed to heaven, a rebirth, or hell. The emphasis in relation to death here is on the movement of soul, not as it is in the dangers of the Devi cycle on the destruction of the body—quite a different kind of problem and threat. There are other symbols of destruction in Bhaktapur's festivals—they have to do with impersonal forces external to the human moral realm. However, Yama as death is an important part of that realm. He can be resisted by affection and solidarity; he and his agents have human characteristics—they can be fooled, and distracted by gambling. When he does prevail in time, the dead individual must leave the household but continues in his identity in a way that has been determined by his moral and dharmic activities. The temporary overcoming of Yama is through the emotional solidarity of the household, and this solidarity is represented by sororal emotional support and by the exchange of gifts. This is in contrast to the ideas, symbols, and emotions relating to the solidarity of the phuki group, guthis , and larger corporate units where impersonal power in relation to dangerous deities is most central to their representation and protection.

Swanti also illustrates a symbolic movement. There is a flowing into the household of the protective power of the benign deity, and a return of the women the household had generated and who had left it. While the elementary unit of solidarity is the household there is the secondary solidarity of a parallelism of similar units. All households in Bhaktapur are going through the same sequences, and while most of this sequence is known to be Hindu, and more saliently Nepalese, one segment, Mha Puja, the day of the new year, is thought to be uniquely Newar, an event that, typically of Newar specialties, has Tantric and Yogic references added to the interpersonal emphases of Swanti, albeit in very attenuated form.

The Swanti sequence is of major importance in Bhaktapur as a "focal" household festival.

Miscellaneous Events [3-7]

The lunar year contains many individual events of varying importance that are thematically independent units, in contrast, for example, to the


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thematic integration of Swanti. Their patterning and relations with other events in the cycle, if any, involves more abstractly structured relations, which we will consider in the appropriate places.

Jugari Na:Mi [3]

The ninth day of the bright fortnight Kachalathwa is in October/ November. This is an event in commemoration of Visnu-Narayana's[*] victory—in the form of his avatar Vamana—over an Asura king. It is a time for a pilgrimage to shrines of Visnu[*] , ideally to the four major shrines of Visnu[*] in the Kathmandu Valley, although this is now limited to a visit to one of them and often, even more conveniently, to one of the two major Visnu[*] temples within Bhaktapur. The visits may be made by a group of family members or by one person representing the family. This special day is in the context of two fortnights (Kachalaga and Kachalathwa) specially dedicated to Visnu[*] . During this period, people who wish to may worship him daily at one of the Visnu[*] temples.

People who go to the valley shrines of Visnu[*] do this along with non-Newar Nepalese, joining them in a mela . In keeping with the theme of Vamana's outwitting of the Asura, people may pray at the shrine for protection against demons, evil spirits, earthquakes, destructive rains, and the like—the nonmoral dangers that are, in the system most properly centered on and localized to Bhaktapur, the concern of the dangerous deities. From the perspective of Bhaktapur's civic religion this is an event of moderate importance.

Hari Bodhini [4]

This, like Jugari Na:mi, which it follows by two days, is a valley-wide festival dedicated to Visnu[*] , celebrated in visits to his four Kathmandu Valley shrines. This day commemorates Visnu's[*] awakening after his four-month cosmic sleep, and is celebrated throughout South Asia. It is the last day of the four-month Caturmasa Vrata (see section entitled "Ya Marhi Punhi [9]"). The Valley's activities are described in some detail by Mary Anderson (1971, chap. 20). Thousands of people from Bhaktapur usually participate in these pilgrimages, as they participate in mela s in general, for the fair-like excitement of the event. The visit is given a less frivolous justification as a fulfillment of some pledge to Visnu[*] , or in order to gain some religious merit.


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Gaborieau (1982) has, as we have noted, argued that for the Indo-Nepalese, Hari Bodhini and the waking of Visnu[*] marks the end of the four-month inauspicious period in which ordinary time is mythically held in abeyance. We will return to this suggestion in chapter 16, but may note here that, in contrast with other events, it is of no internal significance to Bhaktapur, and does not mark any immediate shift in festival events. (Moderate.)[l0]

Saki Mana Punhi [5]

The day and night of all full-moon days or punhi s, that is, the last day of the bright fortnight, is the regular monthly occasion for special activities in Bhaktapur. Some individual full-moon days are differentiated in some way, as are some other monthly occasions—such as the new-moon day, the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight, and the first day of the solar month.[11] Only some of these specially named punhi s are listed in the written annual calendars; some are specially noted only because they precede an important calendrical event in the following fortnight. It is often arbitrary as to whether such relatively insignificant differentiated days should be considered as a special annual event. We have listed only those specially named full-moon days that seem associated with some activity or symbolism of more than routine differentiated importance. One of these is Saki Mana Punhi. "Saki mana" refers to the edible boiled root of a certain flower. Participation in the associated events of the day is optional. There are groups of men who go on the evening of all punhi s to various temples to play music as a religious offering. On this particular punhi evening they bring mixed grain and uncooked beans to the particular temple where they customarily play and construct an elaborate picture of the temple out of the grain and beans. This is the last day of the two fortnights dedicated to Visnu/Narayana[*] . Many people go from one shrine and temple to another, listening to music and inspecting the pictures, but the two major Narayana[*] temples are particular foci for visits and offerings. As this is a punhi evening, people also worship the moon at home, as they do on all punhi s. After the Visnu[*] and moon puja s many households eat special foods—as they do on many calendrical occasions. On this day it is saki mana , the boiled root that gives the punhi its name, and sweet potatoes. On this day, in which the household is emphasized as well as the benign deity Visnu[*] and the astral deity, the moon, there is a parallel participation of


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households, not only in similar pujas , but in the eating of the same food. The movement out of the household is in a stroll to various nearby temples, which individuals, household groups, and close friends may decide to visit. There is no larger interactional civic form given to the day's events. (Moderate.)

Gopinatha Jatra [6]

This event is the first in the bright fortnight Kachalaga in November. While many calendrical events are associated with movement of people to one or another temple or pilgrimage site in a more or less haphazard manner some calendrical events are characterized by systematic and formalized movements through some unit of space. Sometimes a deity is moved through space, sometimes and more rarely devotees move to a temple or shrine, or to a series of them, in some prescribed order. Both the carrying of the deity and the more formalized movements of worshipers through the city is called, as it is elsewhere in South Asia, a jatra (from the Sanskrit, yatra , "journey, festive train, procession, pilgrimage"). These processions—most typically lead by special jatra images[12] of the focal deity carried in the arms of a priest or in a palanquin, or sometimes in an enormous chariot—move over prescribed routes. The route is often the main festival route of the city, the pradaksinapatha[*] , but for many festivals it is one of the less extensive routes within some other significant unit of the city (chap. 7). The paths by which the image and the major participants move from a temple to join the festival route are themselves conventionally prescribed. It should be noted that the extensiveness of the jatra route is no necessary indication of the importance of the festival. Minor jatras may follow the main pradaksinapatha[*] , while important ones that become foci of interest for the entire city may occasionally move only through a local area.

Gopinatha Jatra is an example of a minor jatra that follows the main city route. "Gopinatha" is an appellation of Krsna[*] . The organization of the procession is the responsibility of the temple priest, the pujari , of the Krsna[*] temple in Laeku Square. Some men of the Jyapu Rajcal (also called "Kala") thar , members of families that had been granted tenancy of land in exchange for this service, accompany the image playing flutes, drums, and cymbals. Observers are usually casual bypassers who often must ask who the deity being carried is. Bypassers often give coins as offerings to the deity, and the members of the procession give them flowers as prasada in return. (Minor.)


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Bala, Ca:Re [7]

Ca:re , the fourteenth day of the dark lunar fortnight, is always special to the Dangerous Goddess. On this particular ca:re members of families who have lost someone through death during the year join other Nepalese at the great Valley shrine and temple complex of Pasupatinatha (Anderson 1971, chap. 24). The various procedures on the day—bathing, visits to temples of Siva, Bhairava, and the goddess (at her Devi pitha as Guhyesvari), all associated with various traditional and local tales—are interpreted as protecting the dead person from trouble in the afterlife of the first year, and as aiding his or her entrance into heaven.[13] Most people in Bhaktapur who have had a bereavement during the previous year try to join in this pilgrimage, which is a kind of mela . Those people who are unable to go to Pasupatinatha on that day may go to the equivalent temples and shrines of the "royal center" (see chap. 8, section entitled "Pilgrimage Gods of the Royal Center") on Bhaktapur's Laeku Square. This is one of the days within the lunar year with a central or secondary reference to "normal" death.

On Bala Ca:re a member of the Jugi thar begins to perform in Bhaktapur as Mahadeva, Siva as the "great god," performances that will continue until the beginning of the solar New Year sequence [20].

The day's major event concerns only some of Bhaktapur's people in any given year, but through their lifetimes as they become bereaved most people will take part in it. (Moderate.)

Sukhu(n) Bhisi(n)dya: Jatra [8]

This jatra begins on the fourteenth day of the waning lunar fortnight Kaulaga and ends on the last day, the fifteenth, the day of the new moon. It is special to Bhaktapur, and honors Bhimasena (in Newari, Bhisi[n] God), the special protective deity of Bhaktapur's tradesmen and shopkeepers. An image of the deity taken from the main Bhimasena temple in Dattatreya Square is carried part way around the city on the main festival route, the pradaksinapatha[*] . During the jatra procession straw mats—sukhu(n )—and piles of straw are burned along the route "to keep Bhisi(n)dya: warm." There are various legends about Bhimasena, one of the heroes of the Mahabharata epic, which are used to explain this and other details of the festival. The image is left in a protected shrine along the side of the festival route during the first night, and the procession proceeds around the remainder of the route the fol-


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lowing morning. Shopkeepers and tradesmen perform sacrifices (most often of a male goat) to Bhimasena on these days and have bhwae , formal feasts, at their homes. These are nakha cakha , which include phuki members in addition to the household members, and the phuki ’s married-out women are invited. This jatra , then, is special to Bhaktapur, uses the main festival route, and involves all of Bhaktapur as a spatial unit, but concerns only one of its social components, the "sahu ," tradesmen and shopkeepers. It is the first of the year's important annual festivals taking place within the city to focus on a dangerous deity, and to entail blood sacrifice. It is the first important festival of the year to make use of—in its jatra aspect—the public civic space. (Moderate.)

Ya: Marhi Punhi [9]

Calendrical events are distributed throughout the year in clumps. The first two fortnights of the lunar year has a relatively high density of festivals. Now commencing with Thi(n)lathwa in November/December Bhaktapur has four lunar fortnights with only two very slightly differentiated full-moon days and a minor solar festival—a specially differentiated first day of a solar month. With the third fortnight of this period a month-long vrata , a period of special devotion important to all the Valley women, begins.

Ya: Marhi Punhi [9] is one of the differentiated punhi , or full-moon days. This particular one is related to the agricultural cycle, and is the first of a number of such festivals. Most of the other festivals connected with the agricultural cycle (this one being a significant exception) are tied together in the stories and actions of the "Devi cycle," which we will consider as a unit below. Ya: Marhi Punhi takes place at the end of the rice harvest (whose beginning was signaled in the major autumnal festival of Mohani [67-77]). At this time the rice harvest is usually entirely completed. During this day in most households a mixture of husked and unhusked rice is worshiped in the room used for storing grain. The purpose of the prayer is said to be that as the grain is used up the worshipers hope that the storeroom will be filled up again. The rice mixture is taken to represent Laksmi. A specially kind of sweetcake, ya: marhi , is presented as an offering to the deified rice, and after being left in the store room for four days, is eaten as prasada from Laksmi. Three of the cakes had been formed into images of Ganesa[*] , Laksmi, and Kubera, a quasi-deity who has little other reference in Bhaktapur and is


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never worshiped at any other time, and who has as one of his legends the custodianship of wealth (Mani 1975, 435).[14] This is the traditional day for the giving by a tenant farmer of a share of the rice harvest to the owner of the land—although the share may now, in fact, be paid before or after this time. In the evening of this festival there is a nakhatya , and married-out women are invited to their natal homes for a feast in which various kinds of food special to the occasion are added to the ordinary feast menu. This is a household centered feast, and the household is reconstructed in the invitation to the married-out daughters. The deities are benign ones. The emphasis here—in contrast to the agricultural meanings of the Devi cycle—is not on the growth of the grain but in its location in the household as part of the household's prosperity. This is a significant illustration of the difference between the relations of the Dangerous Goddess (and her Devi cycle) to fertility and the benign one, Laksmi, to household management and well-being. Ya: Marhi Punhi is considered to be an exclusively Newar festival. (Moderate.)

Miscellaneous Events [10-11]

Ghya: Caku Sa(n)lhu [10] is a festival in the solar cycle that fell on the thirteenth day of Pohelathwa—late December in 1974/75. It always falls within a few days of this lunar date, and is noteworthy in that it is associated with the winter solstice and the beginning of the "ascending half" of the solar year, the six-month period during which the days progressively lengthen. It will be discussed in the next chapter. (Moderate.)

Chyala Punhi [11] is an ordinary punhi , with the addition that it is customary on this day to discard clay kitchen pots that are unusable on the neighborhood chwasa . Chyala is "a curry made from bamboo shoots, potatoes, peas and other vegetables" (Manandhar 1976, 136) which it was presumably customary to prepare on this punhi . It is an arbitrary decision as to whether to include such minimally differentiated monthly occasions in a list of annual events. (Minor.)

The Month of the Swasthani Vrata

As we have noted in the last chapter, the term "vrata " is often used in South Asia for any calendrically prescribed religious activity, but it has a stronger sense of "religious or ascetic observance taken upon oneself, austerity, vow, rule, holy work, such as fasting and continence" (Mac-


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donnell 1974, 304). Noting that Nepalese calendrical events can be sorted into jatra s, mela s, and vrata s in this stronger sense, Bouillier (1982) has noted that among upper-caste Indo-Nepalese while participation m jatra s and mela s is "collective," vrata s may be individual, and done at home. She notes that those calendrical events special to women are vrata s "performed for the most part discretely within the family group" (1982, 91). Traditionally in South Asia vrata s, in contrast to many other forms of worship, were proper to persons of all caste levels as well as to women (Kane 1968-1977, vol. V, p. 51), but Kane notes that the Puranas[*] and digests of ritual procedures prescribe several vrata s that were specifically to be performed by women. Although there are differences in the participation of Newar and Indo-Nepalese women in festivals, Bouillier's remarks have some relevance for Bhaktapur. Thus, while men do participate in vrata s in Bhaktapur, the city's major special annual event special to women is a vrata , the Swasthani (Sanskrit, svasthani ) Vrata.

Pohelathwa and Sillathwa, the two lunar fortnights in January and February that begin on the day following Chyala Punhi, constitute one of a number of two-fortnight periods in Bhaktapur's annual calendar devoted as a whole to some special theme and activities. Within such periods some specific calendrical events may be connected to the theme, but others that occur may be independent of it. These four weeks are the period of the Swasthani Vrata. This is an important festival month for the women of the Kathmandu Valley of various ethnic groups. It has been studied at length by Linda Iltis with a focus on participation by Newar women (1985) and by Lynn Bennett as an aspect of her study of Chetri women in the Valley (1977, 1983). The vrata is based on a group of legends (Swasthani Vrata Katha : See B. M. P. Sharma [1955]),[15] which combines various traditional stories about Siva, Sati, and Parvati. The oldest known manuscript of this collection is in Newari (Iltis 1985, 8):

The Sri Swasthani Vrata Katha text is a compilation of 29-33 stones, some of which are unique versions of Puranic[*] stones popular in Hindu communities throughout South Asia, as well as others which are unique local legends which concern people and places m the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, and explain the origins and benefits in rituals honoring the Goddess Swasthani.

Rooted in Newar language and culture, the worship of Swasthani has spread to other ethnic groups and cultures in Nepal via the trade networks of the Newars, and primarily through Newar scribes. . . . The Sri Swasthani


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Vrata Katha text has been translated into Nepali, Hindi and perhaps Maithili.

The text is read aloud in successive portions, one each evening, in households in Bhaktapur in its Newari version. It is read traditionally by men, but its message, as Lynn Bennett emphasizes for the Chetris, is directed to women. Before turning to the actions of the Swasthani Vrata, something should be said of the text which is summarized in Bennett (1983, 274-306). The text deals with themes and especially conflicts of romantic love and arranged marriage; of sexuality and marriage; of sexual passion, jealousy, faithfulness, and duty; and of the transformation of a man, in this case Siva, from self-absorption to social usefulness through marriage. In the course of the stories, Parvati, the central human-like protagonist, must deal with these conflicts. She is able to get Siva, the man she loves, as husband through devotion and works (vrata ) dedicated to Swasthani (an appellation of the transcendent form of the Goddess), but it is her proper social behaviour, "her attention to the details of the ritual, her distribution of alms, and above all, her religious devotion [which are] stressed along with her asceticism" (Bennett 1983, 224). Bennett sums up the significance of Parvati in the Swasthani stories and their associated rituals (and in general) (ibid., 272f.):

The many contradictory elements which go into the Devi's role as perfect wife and mother are [now] apparent: she must be both sensual and ascetic: flirtatious and faithful; fertile and yet utterly pure. In the myths about her gentle aspects—most notably as Parvati—the goddess is all these things. She represents an ideal, a blending of opposing qualities which actual village women can never fully achieve. . . . In Hindu mythology [Parvati] . . . is the impossibly perfect model, embodying the contradictory values of Hinduism particularly as they affect women in Hindu patrilineal social structure. This, I maintain, is why the gentle side of the goddess is especially important to village women.

Like Durga, of course, Parvati is worshiped and greatly revered by both men and women. But, lust as men are largely responsible for the worship of Durga and more conversant than women with the texts about her, women are more involved with the rituals and texts concerning Parvati and the other gentle forms of the goddess.

Although Swasthani is the Goddess as full creative deity, in accordance with the emphasis on Parvati as the ideal woman centrally located in the social and moral world the festival is devoted to the ordinary deities, and in the stories and in the symbolic enactments, it is Parvati's


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conventional relations to the benign male deities Siva and Visnu[*] that are emphasized. The events of this month are not part of the Devi cycle. We may note here that among other valley Hindu groups there is another very important women's festival connected with the Swasthani stories, Tij, which is not observed by the women of Bhaktapur (see section on miscellaneous minor events [52-58], below).

During this month the general Valley pattern is followed. Successive sections of the Swasthani Vrata Katha are read in the household each evening during the month. Girls and women past the Ihi ceremony, and, for those who had had a "social marriage" whose husbands are still living,[16] will take part in the other ceremonies, the vrata s themselves. These "married" girls and women (in some, but not all thar s) may wear red sari s, the color of marriage sari s, during this period. Some of them fast by not eating meat. They worship Siva, usually as a linga[*] ,[17] both at home and at various designated tirthas at the riverside. While a majority, perhaps, of women remain in Bhaktapur and do not participate in the major valley pilgrimages of the period, many women do participate in the valley-wide mela (described in detail in Iltis [1985]). The motives for womens' religious activities during the period are said to be ones similar to those Bennett (1983, 276) has noted for valley Chetri women—for example, for married women, to protect their households and their husbands; for unmarried girls, to help ensure a good husband in the future.[18]

Men in Bhaktapur also participate in the festival, but what was reported as having previously been daily participation had diminished greatly by the time of this study. The foci of the men's worship were Visnu[*] and Siva, important actors in the Swasthani story. On each day of the month men would go in groups, following a leader, to bathe in the river and then on to the city's main Visnu[*] and Siva temples to do puja . The leader of the group would call out the names of Visnu[*] and his avatar s and the various names of Siva, and the men in the group, carrying banners, would chant "Hari Madya:" ("Hari" is one of the appellations of Visnu/Narayana[*] and "Madya:," that is, Mahadya:, the Great God, a major appellation of Siva.) The activities of the Swastani month end on the full-moon day, with the Madya: Jatra [14], which we will discuss below.

Sarasvati Festivals [12, 13]

Sarasvati Jatra [12] takes place on the night of the fourth day of the fortnight, and is part of a unit or sequence that includes the events of


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the following day ([13], below). On the day of Sarasvati Jatra students, for whom Sarasvati is a patron deity, go to her main temple, and massage the legs of her jatra image. It is said that she has just returned from a long journey from Lhasa in Tibet, and her legs are tired.[19] In the course of the day the image, on this day referred to as "Sarasvati who has returned from Lhasa" is carried around the main festival route, in a small procession, or jatra . (Minor.)

Sri Pa(n)chami [13], which occurs the next day, continues the special worship of Sarasvati or (an alternate appellation) Sri, in common with other Nepalese Hindus. This is again primarily a festival for students and their households. The students fast by not eating meat on this day. They go to the main Sarasvati temple to pray for success in their studies. Prasada from the deity is brought back to the household to be shared. Men and women Jyapus also go on this day to the temple and pray to Sarasvati for aid in the weaving of cloth and in farmwork. People from other groups may worship her at her temple on that day, particularly those who, like the students, have or wish to have skills that require study and memory.

Jyapu bhajana groups play music at the Sarasvati temple on this day. They play special music called "Basanta" or "spring music"—although Basanta, starting in Caitra (Caulathwa), is still two months away, for this day is the traditional lunar event associated with the early part of the "ascending half" of the year, which had begun some three weeks earlier.

Sri Pa(n)chami is important to essential members of the city's society and is thus in our scale of "moderate" importance for the city.

Madya: Jatra [14] End of Swasthani Vrata

This jatra comes on the final day, the full-moon day, of Sillathwa. This day is also the last day of the four weeks of the Swasthani Vrata. This full-moon day is called "Swasthani Punhi" or "Si Punhi." The day is said to be an important event—but many of the activities previously associated with it have been discontinued. A procession honoring Siva begins at the riverside at the Khware ghat[*] and proceeds to the nearby Ga:hiti Square, where it joins the main festival route, and then proceeds around it. The procession stops temporarily at the two main Narayana[*] temples, one in the upper half of the city and the other in the lower half, then continuing its circumambulation of the festival route returns to


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Ga:hiti Square, and then to the river, where it disbands.[20] This jatra takes place during the day. Previously in the evening children and adults dressed as Siva and Parvati were carried around the city in palanquins, accompanied by torches and music. Still now on this day people often perform special puja s to Siva as "Madya:" (Mahadya:, the "Great God") in their homes and to his representations as linga[*] s at the riverside. These activities are an extension of the worship of Siva lingas[*] during the course of the Svasthani month. In the evening there are household suppers in which various sweets, including special forms of sweetcakes dedicated to Mahadya:, are eaten. Traditionally 108 of these tiny cakes were presented to wives, who would then eat one hundred of them, and present the remaining eight to her husband.[21]

The themes of the previous month are summed up with this act of wifely household devotion in the context of worship of the benign deities. What is added here is a jatra that emphasizes the integration of the city through its visits to the two Visnu[*] temples, and the circumambulation of the main festival route.

The procession is a relatively small one now. Most people do not join it but go about their ordinary activities during the day. (Moderate.)

Sila Ca:re (Sivaratri) [15]

The following waning fortnight, Sillaga (in February) has only one festival event, of moderate importance for Bhaktapur as a city—although of major importance for all Shaivite Hindus.

This ca:re , the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight, is—like all ca:re —special to the Goddess, and there are as on other ca:re s special ceremonies for the Aga(n) Gods and at the temples of the Tantric deities. This particular ca:re is also devoted to Siva.[22] On this day the major valley shrine complex of Pasupatinatha becomes a center for Shaivite pilgrims from India and Nepal. Bhaktapur's Dattatreya temple is a secondary pilgrimage center at this time. Many Shaivite pilgrims from India and elsewhere in Nepal—both "householders" and sadhu s—come to Bhaktapur at this time. Some of the sadhu s are housed at one or another of the city's matha[*] s, "monasteries," for wandering Hindu renouncers, built as acts of piety by Malla kings. As we have noted, neither Dattatreya temple nor the matha s have "Newar" priests. These pilgrims (and others during the course of the year) come to Bhaktapur in a sort of benign invasion of interest to its citizens, but they are not, as such, part of the Newars' own city-centered symbolic life.

People in Bhaktapur may go themselves to the Dattatreya temple,


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and, as pilgrims themselves, to the fair-like mela at Pasupatinatha. Within Bhaktapur in the evening fires are made along the roadside and in the main neighborhood squares. Many men—from thar s throughout Bhaktapur's social structure (except the untouchables)—sit by the fires all night chanting the name of Siva, some of them smoking cannabis, which is commonly smoked by Shaivite pilgrims during the festival, and which was, at the time of this study, sold by stall keepers at Pasupatinatha during the mela . The legends told to explain the fires are variants of a widespread Hindu tale associated with the day (cf. Kane 1968-1977, vol. V, p. 255). In summary, the legends recount that once upon a time a hunter caught in the woods at night sat shivering under the particular kind of tree whose wood is supposed to be burnt for the fires made that night. Siva, hearing the sounds "sh, sh" made by the shivering man, thought that the man was calling his name, and manifested himself to offer the hunter a boon. The hunter requested that he be able to stay forever with Siva in his heaven, and Siva granted his wish. The salvation of the shivering hunter under his tree, is said by some to be associated with the approach of spring when trees are beginning to bud again and that Siva who periodically destroys and recreates the world is bringing it to life again in its annual cycle of death and rebirth. There are no feasts or special household activities on this day.

This is one of the calendrical events in which the borders of the domestic moral realm is represented by means of the ideas and images associated with the benign deities. Siva responds, in his absentminded but recognizably human way, to the needs of the hunter. That response is produced by a misunderstanding, a kind of trickery, for the hunter[23] has done nothing in the dharmic moral realm to earn it. The legend, the fires in the public spaces in whose warmth some men spend the night, the smoking of cannabis, the references to and mimicking of the absent-minded and yogic Siva probes at the human outer boundaries of the moral realm.

In the day's explorations of the "benign margins" of the moral realm, neither the household nor the integrated city are directly referred to but are present as that which is being, for the moment, escaped. (Moderate.)

The Minor Festivals of Krsna[*] (Holi) [16, 17]

Cillathwa, the bright fortnight of the following month (February/ March) includes a period—from the eighth day until the full-moon


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day—which in the other Newar cities of the Valley as in South Asia in general is a time for major activities devoted to Krsna[*] . In Bhaktapur the activities of the period are comparatively quite minor. The first day, the eighth, is called "Cir Swaegu" [16], which means "to erect a cir ," that is, a bamboo pole to which a banner of varicolored cloths has been attached. The practice, which gives its name to the day is, significantly, not done in Bhaktapur now (although it was, on the evidence of the name, probably done sometime in the past), although it is still done in Kathmandu (Anderson 1971, 250). In Bhaktapur the day simply introduces the week, but has no special activities of its own. In both Kathmandu and, even more so, in Patan Krsna[*] is associated with major festivals. In Bhaktapur some of these are ignored, others given only minor importance. This is an example of the selection of deities and emphases that are open to each community.

In the period between the Cir Swaegu day and the full-moon day, called "Holi Punhi," some people go in processions around the city, and throw abhir , a red powder (app. 4). The men in these processions, few in number compared to the numbers participating in the city's major jatra s, are mostly from the Jyapu thar s. Their throwing of the powder is restrained in that they are, it is said, "afraid" to throw the abhir at men of superior thar status. This is in contrast to Anderson's account for elsewhere in the Valley that "the erection of the cir pole gives eight-day license to one and all to drench almost anyone he meets, including cows and dogs, with powder of the most brilliant vermilion" (1971, 251). She reports that the traditional license of the period was being brought under control in Kathmandu because it was becoming a public nuisance.

As we have argued previously in our discussion of Krsna[*] and Rama as objects of bhakti , personal devotion, bhakti religion is antithetical to the traditional community organization that Bhaktapur's Hinduism helps constitute and support. Gopal Singh Nepali found some evidence in the phrasing of a folk song about it, that Holi (as the week-long period is called elsewhere) is a "culture trait introduced from outside [Nepal]" (1965, 338). Its popularity in Kathmandu and Patan, along with that of other Krsna[*] festivals, may attest to a relative breaking away from traditional priestly Hindu civic organization at the time of its introduction in contrast to the more conservative and traditional Bhaktapur.

On the last day of the period, Holi Punhi, [17], or, as it is also called, Krsna[*] Jatra, in Bhaktapur an image of Krsna[*] that is kept in the Taleju


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temple[24] is carried around the city's main festival route. Not many people go out of their way to watch the procession. There are no other special activities on that day. (Both [16] and [17] are comparatively minor events in Bhaktapur.)

The Approach of the Season of Anxiety [18, 19]

The waning fortnight Sillaga (March) has no special events, with the exception of Pasa Ca:re [18], the fourteenth day, one of the ca:re s with special features. "Pasa " means "friend." In Bhaktapur the day is also called Pisac Ca:re, a pisaca being a ghoul-like evil spirit. In Kathmandu, where the day was traditionally the occasion for more elaborate celebrations than in Bhaktapur, the day is called "Paha(n) Ca:re," that is, "Guest Ca:re." In Bhaktapur there are special emphases on the day in the Tantric worship of tutelary goddesses required on all ca:re . Thus, in the Taleju temple it is necessary to offer an animal sacrifice to Taleju, while on most other ca:re the meat-containing mixture, samhae , is sufficient. In Aga(n) puja s people add references to the pisaca and ask for protection. Many farmers' guthis perform blood sacrifices to dangerous deities. Those people who have protective pollution-consuming deified stones, "Luku Mahadya:," in their courtyards (chap. 8), clean them on this day. The main idea on this day, is protection from vague evil forces. Anderson remarks that this ca:re comes at a time "when typhoid, dysentery, cholera and smallpox flourish with the advent of hot weather, prior to cleansing monsoon rains. It is a time of uneasiness" (1971, 264). The anxieties symbolized by spirits and the special worship of the dangerous tutelary gods, are thematically balanced by feasts in households, to which married-out women and friends are invited—hence the names "Pasa" and "Paha(n)." As Anderson puts it, "traditionally on this day homes and courtyards are thoroughly cleaned and decorated to welcome relatives and acquaintances in the hope that such a display of goodwill, generosity and mutual love will dispel evil thoughts and harmful spirits. Especially it is important to invite married daughters back to paternal homes for family feasts, that sisters may meet in good fellowship" (1971, 265).[25] (Moderate.)

Two days later, on the first day of the following fortnight, the bright fortnight Caulathwa (March/April), is the day of Cika(n) Buyegu [19], the "oil-rubbing" day. For the upper thar s, the Chathariya and above, there are no special activities on this day, but the farming thar s and


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some thar s below them in Bhaktapur and in other Newar communities rub mustard-seed oil, cika(n) , on their own and their children's bodies. It is thought that this will protect them from sickness during the following year.[26] This is followed by a special household supper. (Minor.)

The themes of dangerous spirits and illness and of protection against them, which are introduced here, are the first anticipatory references in the lunar cycle to a time of the year in which a long season of disease and the critical early stages of the main agricultural cycle, the rice cycle, bringing major risks for individual and civic well-being, are approaching. These anxious themes become represented in later calendrical events (mostly within the Devi cycle) with increasing density and interrelation.

Biska:, The Solar New Year [20-29]

In 1975/76 the solar New Year sequence began on the eleventh day of the waxing lunar fortnight Caulathwa, during April. This sequence lasts for nine days, and includes several component events. We will present these in the following chapter in conjunction with the other events of the solar calendar. The sequence as a whole is of focal importance for Bhaktapur, in ways that we will specify. It centers around the dangerous deities, and is concerned with the integration of city units in the face of the passions that can destroy that unity.

The Dewali Period, the Worship of the Digu Lineage Deities [30]

The period starting on the first day of the dark fortnight, Caulaga (April) and ending some fifty days later on the day before Sithi Nakha [36], is the span during which the worship of each phuki ’s externally situated lineage deity, the Digu Dya:, must take place. Each phuki has a particular day within the Dewali period when it customarily does its Dewali puja . We have discussed the events of this period in chapter 9. The Dewali worship is to a dangerous deity through meat and alcoholic offerings. It is the most important ritual marker of the phuki (Major.)

The Minor Dasai(n) of Rama [31, 32]

In our consideration of the Krsna[*] ceremonies of Holi we had examples of ceremonial days in Bhaktapur's calendar which are of interest be-


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cause they are unimportant in comparison with the way they are treated in other South Asian or Nepalese communities. While such comparative emphases may be due to factors that are tangential to the concerns of our study, certain examples of relative neglect or emphasis may be related to Bhaktapur's particular kind of symbolic organization. This seems to be the case in celebrations of Visnu's[*] avatar s, whose cult elsewhere in South Asia is a response to special needs and conditions that have not characterized traditional Bhaktapur. This is true not only of Krsna[*] but also of Rama, whose cult is important elsewhere throughout South Asia. Two calendrical events in the fortnight of Caulaga associated with Rama are of considerable importance elsewhere but of relatively minor importance in Bhaktapur's calendar of festivals.

The eighth day of the fortnight is called "Cait Dasai(n)" [31]. The name refers to a nine-day period observed elsewhere in South Asia, beginning on the first day of the fortnight and ending the following day, Rama Navami, a period during which portions of the Ramayana epic are read. The worship of this spring festival lasts m Bhaktapur for only one day. In Bhaktapur's Devi-centered interpretation, the importance of this day is said to be that on it Rama worshiped the Goddess for help in his battle against Ravana[*] . This gives it a thematic connection with Bhaktapur's major Dasai(n), Mohani [67-77], the autumn harvest festival. In accord with its reference to the Dangerous Goddess, many households sacrifice animals and have feasts, and there are sacrifices to the Aga(n) deities, to Taleju, and to other Tantric deities at temples. In contrast to the autumnal Mohani, animal sacrifice is optional. Although the Dangerous Goddess is a focus of worship, this festival is not integrated into the Devi cycle. (Moderate.)

The following day, the ninth day of the fortnight, is Rama Navami [32]. This, the birthday of Rama, was traditionally a very minor day in Bhaktapur, only commemorated by the temple priests of the Rama temples in their own worship at the temples. In recent years some followers of a new bhakti cult of Rama go in groups to pray at his temples on this day. (Minor.)

Honoring Mothers [33]

The last day of the dark fortnight, the new-moon day, is called Ma(n) ya khwa: swaegu [33], literally "looking at mother's face." This, like a


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later parallel day for fathers [51], involves all Kathmandu Valley Hindus and Buddhists. People whose mother has died more than one year previously and who are thus beyond the first year's period of mourning and commemorative ceremonies go, if at all possible, to join other Nepalese at a pilgrimage site, Mata Tirtha, which is two adjoining ponds about six miles to the southwest of Kathmandu.[27] They do a commemorative ceremony, a sofa sraddha[*] , with, for well-to-do farming and upper-level thar s, assistance from their family priest. An offering of food is given to their family Brahman as a special offering, a dana , for the mother. If unable to go to Mata Tirtha, people will bathe and make their offerings at a tirtha at the river in Bhaktapur itself.

Those whose mothers are living return to their mother's home,[28] to "see their mother's face." The mother is worshiped as a deity. Men and women, boys and girls, bow their heads to their mother's feet, then wash them, and place offerings of small coins on them. In some thar s the worshipers take some of the water that has been used to wash the feet and drink it as prasada , which, as we have noted in our discussion of cipa , polluted food (chap. 11), dramatically symbolizes the worshiper's dependent and incorporated relationship to the mother and thus her continuing responsibility to them. Children who have left home try to return on this day, bringing with them offerings of sweet-cakes, curds, eggs, and swaga(n) . The mother returns some of these offerings to her children as prasada . If their mother is not living people on this day may offer beaten rice and sweetcakes to the wife of their family purohita . After a series of festivals devoted to dangerous deities this day returns to the household, with its benign deity—here the deified mother. The emphasis again is on the inside of the household, and the reaffirmation of its internal relations against an opposing theme of loss and death. (Moderate.)

Aksaya[*] Trtiya[*] [34]

The third day, the Trtiya[*] of the waxing fortnight Bachalathwa (April/ May), is a very minor holiday in Bhaktapur, but is of interest in at least one other Newar community. In Hindu tradition it is an ancient vrata , "one of the 3 and 1/2 days popularly believed to be most auspicious in the year" (Kane 1968-1977, vol. V, p. 89). In Bhaktapur on this day Siva is worshiped in many homes with a special offering of a sugar and water syrup. The day has the peculiarity—a residual of its traditional auspiciousness—that marriages and other rites of passages can be done


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on it without the necessity of determining astrologically the proper sait , the exact propitious day and time for the ceremony, which would otherwise be necessary.

According to Toffin, in the Newar town of Panauti, Aksaya[*] Trtiya[*] is the day on which the Ihi , the mock-marriage of young girls, is annually performed (1984, 403). (Minor.)

Candesvari[*] Jatra [35]

On the last day of the fortnight there occurs one of the year's several local twa: jatras . Although they center in one particular neighborhood or twa :, they are listed in the annual calendar and are often of general city-wide interest. This one takes place in the Tibukche(n) twa : and is devoted to Candesvari[*] , a form of the Goddess, who has no other civic significance in Bhaktapur. The jatra image is carried around the twa : on that day, and there are, characteristically of such twa: jatra s, feasts, nakhatya , in many houses in the festival area in which not only relations but friends from other parts of the city are invited. (In comparison with certain other of the twa: jatra s, it is a minor event.)

Buddha Jaya(n)ti and a Note on "Buddhist" Festivals in Bhaktapur

In previous chapters we discussed the relations between the Hindu and Buddhist aspects of the Newar society and religion of Bhaktapur. For some purposes, as we emphasized, they can be considered separate components, while for others they blend or overlap. The case is similar with festivals. There are some that can be said to be Hindu, some Buddhist,[30] some (the great majority) common to both, although in the latter case the interpretations may vary. These differentiations are, in any detail, beyond the scope of this study. There are a few festivals in Bhaktapur that are mostly of concern to the city's "Buddhists" (as we have defined them in chap. 5). In other festivals the same festival image will be defined differently by Buddhists and Hindus so that the jatra is relevant to both groups. An example is the predominantly Buddhist festival centering on images of the Five Dhyani Buddhas, which are identified by Hindus as the Five Pandava Brothers (see section on Gunhi Punhi, below).

This day, Buddha Jaya(n)ti, takes place on the full-moon day of Bachalathwa, the same day as the Candesvari[*] Jatra. It commemorates


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the day that the historic Buddha was born, received enlightenment, and died—all having occurred on the same day of the year. An image of the Buddha is carried around the city's main festival route. While high-status Hindus say that this jatra has no significance for them, other Bhaktapur Hindus may view the jatra , make small offerings to the deity, and receive prasada .[31] This is typical of all such "Buddhist" festivals in Bhaktapur.

Sithi Nakha [36]

The festival calendar has no events in the waning fortnight of Bachalaga in May. However, the following fortnight, the bright fortnight Tachalathwa, includes on its sixth day an event, Sithi Nakha, which signals the preparation for the ending of the year's relatively uneventful phase and introduces an anticipatory period of about one month until Bhagasti [40], when with the annual death of Bhaktapur's major protective goddesses, the Nine Durgas, a new phase of Bhaktapur's festival year will begin.

The seven-week Dewali period, the period within which the phuki lineage gods, the Digu Gods, are worshiped, is terminated on the evening of the day before Sithi Nakha.

Sithi Nakha [36] is the first occurrence within the lunar year of the Devi cycle, a set of closely interrelated annual events ([36], [40], [45], [67-76] and the Nine Durgas' performances) during a nine-month period, which reflect important stages of the rice agricultural cycle and whose imagery centers on the forms and activities of the dangerous goddess. We will devote a chapter to that cycle, but in this chapter will simply list and briefly characterize those events to indicate their position in the overall cycle. Sithi Nakha is the day by which the annual performances of the Nine Durgas must be completed. It is the day on which wells and ponds are traditionally to be cleaned in anticipation of the coming rains which will make that annual activity impossible. It is the day which anticipates the last weeks of the dry season and the time at which the planting of seed rice must begin. (Moderate.)

Candi[*] Bhagavati Jatra [37]

On the same day as Sithi Nakha Day, a local twa: jatra , that of Candi[*] Bhagavati, an appellation of Bhagavati, is held in the Kwache(n) twa :. A locally housed image of the goddesses is carried around the twa : fes-


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tival route. This is a typical local twa: jatra of minor civic importance (compare Candesvari[*] Jatra [35]).

Dasa Hara [38]

This calendrical event of minor importance for Bhaktapur is common to all Hindus. It is on the tenth day, dasa (Sanskrit dasa ), of the month. In its traditional Indian version it was a day for removing "sins," through bathing in the Ganges, and later in other large rivers (Kane 1968-1977, vol. V, p. 90f.). In Bhaktapur the custom persists with, it would seem, an emphasis rather on protection from external misfortunes. People in Bhaktapur go to bathe in the river at the Kware ghat[*] , considering their ritual bath as worship to the river Ganges, and present certain vegetables—cucumber, red pepper, and an edible root, phakha(n) , to the river. This bathing and presentation is supposed to remove "bad luck" from the bathers. On this day there may be small family dinners in special commemoration of the day. Otherwise there are no special activities. (Minor.)

Panauti Jatra [39]

This annual event on the last, the full-moon day of Tachalathwa, is listed in Bhaktapur's annual lunar calendar. This is an occasion for a mela , starting with a pilgrimage out of the city to Panauti, a town to the east of Bhaktapur, which had been part of the hinterland state of Bhaktapur in the Malla period. Thousands of people from Bhaktapur join throngs of people from elsewhere in the valley to bathe in the river at Panauti and to worship at a hill-top shrine there.[32] There are no ritual events in Bhaktapur on this day (apart from the regular full-moon worship). (Moderate.)

Bhagasti [40], the Death of the nine Durgas (Devi Cycle)

The eighth day, the astami[*] , of the following month, the waning month Tachalaga (June), is Bhagavati's astami[*] , or Bhagasti. In the weeks following this day as the rains start the young rice plants are transplanted into the muddy paddy fields. On this day the masks of the Nine Durgas are "cremated" and those deities die, to be reborn in the course of the Mohani festival, some three-and-one-half months later. (Moderate.)


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Minor Festivals of Visnu[*] [41-43] and the Beginning of the Caturmasa Vrata

The bright fortnight Dillathwa (June/July) includes three events related to Visnu[*] . On the second day of the month is the Jagana God Jatra [41]. Jagana (Jagannatha) is an avatar of Visnu[*] , usually thought of as a form of Krsna[*] . For Bhaktapur this is a very minor city jatra The jatra image of Jagana God from the temple of Jagannatha near the Durbar Square is carried around the city by a small group of people, and the pujari of the temple must perform special worship on that day. (Minor.)

The eleventh day of Dillathwa, the ekadasi —which is in all fortnights special to Visnu[*] —is of differentiated importance in this fortnight. it is called, as everywhere in South Asia, "Hari Sayani [42]," Visnu's[*] sleeping." It is on this day that Visnu[*] begins his four-month cosmic sleep, from which he will awaken on the ekadasi of Kachalathwa four months later, on the day of Hari Bodhini [4], "Visnu's[*] awakening," in the following lunar year. This ekadasi marks the beginning of a four-month vrata called "Caturmasa," the "four months." Gaborieau (1982), who gives this period critical importance in his account of the structure of the Indo-Nepalese calendar, remarks that for Hindus the Caturmasa is considered an inauspicious period within which, for example, initiation and marriages, and worship for the protection of the village and lineage cannot take place.

For Bhaktapur the special status of this period of Visnu's[*] sleep is not salient in the annual festival cycle. Other major deities in Hindu tradition leave the world to sleep at various times, also typically for four months. For Bhaktapur the annual departure of the Nine Durgas at Bhagasti seems to be a more critical marker of transition, as are the events in the autumnal harvest festival that lead to their rebirth. The Caturmasa period is, however, of Sanskritic importance to people of the upper thar s. Individuals may decide to perform a vrata during the period, as is the case in all vrata s in fulfillment of a vow or in hope of some good result. Typically people may alter their diets—renouncing meat or salt, eating once a day, or eating from special leaves rather than dishes for the period of the vrata . They may do special worship, including elaborate puja s, to Visnu[*] during the period. During Caturmasa Brahman storytellers tell stories about Visnu[*] in the public squares.[33]

The twelfth day of the fortnight, also devoted to Visnu/Narayana[*] , is Tulasi Piye Day [43], the day of the planting (piyegu ) of the tulasi plant. Tulasi , a variety of basil, is a plant that has various mythic meanings in Hindu tradition, but which here has its major meaning as representing


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Visnu[*] . On this day people everywhere in the city plant tulasi seedlings in small clay pots, using one pot for each person in the household. If the plant dies during the next month, that is a sign that the individual whom it represents may experience some misfortune. During this period people pray to the plant as Visnu/Narayana[*] , and after watering it take back a bit of water from one of the leaves and drink it as prasada . Some upper-status people put a bit of gold in the holes in which the seedlings are placed as part of the offering. Although it is only the duration of the first month that is significant as an omen, the plants are kept alive as long as possible. After they die, the leaves are kept for use in death ceremonies, where the leaves represent Visnu[*] as "Tulasi Narayana[*] ." They are joined with pindas[*] , representations of deceased ancestors, during the ceremonies. The day in itself is a minor event.

Guru Puja [44]

The last day in this fortnight, the full-moon day, is the day of Guru Puja, when people are supposed to worship their gurus . Although the day is included in local calendrical lists, it is observed—otherwise than as an ordinary full-moon day—by only a relatively few families in Bhaktapur. It is considered to be generally a Partya, a non-Newar Nepalese Hindu tradition. (Minor.)

Gatha Muga: Ca:re [45] (Devi Cycle)

This is the only festival in the waning fortnight of Dillaga, in July. It takes place on the fourteenth, the ca:re , and it is a major event in the phase of the Devi cycle characterized by the absence from Bhaktapur of the protective Nine[*] Durgas. Gatha Muga: Ca:re takes place when the rice plants have, ideally, been transplanted into the paddy fields. It is the culmination of a period of conventional shouting of obscenities, culminating in the chasing of effigies of demons out of the city where they are cremated. It is the last event in the Devi cycle before the focal Mohani harvest festival [67-76]. (Major.)

Naga Pa(n)cami [46]

The entire duration of the tenth lunar month, Gu(n)la (July/August), is of special importance to Newar Buddhists throughout the valley (Lewis 1984, 349ff.; Anderson 1971, chap. 7), and there are daily processions and other special events involving the Buddhist population of the city.


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But in Bhaktapur's Hindu calendar the first half of the month, the bright fortnight Gu(n)lathwa, contains only two annual events: Naga Pa(n)cami, of moderate importance; and Gunhi Punhi [47], on the last day of the fortnight, introducting a sequence of focal importance. The fifth day, the pa(n)cami of the waxing fortnight Gu(n)lathwa, is Naga Pa(n)cami [46]. On this day the supernatural serpent, the naga , is worshipped, as it is in various ways on this day throughout South Asia. In Bhaktapur, drawings on paper of naga s are placed at the main doorway of each house, and at the entrance of each room of the house. The paintings are worshiped and offered a special mixture of grasses, rice, beans, and cow dung. This is said to help protect people from poisonous snakes, which have become more numerous at this season, and from the equivocally malevolent naga itself, who is often asked to refrain from troubling the house. (Moderate.)

Gunhi Punhi [47], Beginning of the Densest Festival Season

The four lunar fortnights starting with the last day of Gu(n)lathwa in August and ending with the last day of the elaborate autumn harvest festival, Mohani, on the tenth day of Kachalathwa (September/ October) contain thirty-one of the year's seventy-nine annual calendrical events, and thus constitute the year's densest season of such events. This is the quiet segment of the agricultural rice cycle. The rice planting has been completed at its beginning, and major harvesting will begin only at its end. The great farming segment of Bhaktapur's community has only routine maintenance work to do during this season, and is not fully engaged in the fields.

The full-moon day of Gu(n)lathwa, Gunhi (or, sometimes Guni)[34] Punhi [47], is the time for a group of events m Bhaktapur. Two among them are of special interest. One of these is a variation of a pan-Hindu set of procedures customary on the day (Kane 1968-1977, vol. V, p. 127) that in Bhaktapur emphasizes the purification and rededication of Rajopadhyaya Brahmans. The other is the introduction of an annual carnival and festival of the dead, a festival that is specially elaborated in Bhaktapur. On the day before the full-moon day, that is, on the fourteenth day of the fortnight, Brahmans and some "orthodox" Chathariya shave their heads (as always, with the exception of the queue),[35] and supervise the purification of their houses with cow dung. On the morning of the full-moon day the Chathariyas go to the river at Kware to


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bathe and change their jona s, or sacred threads. Then, at a later time, all the Rajopadhyaya Brahman males who had their initiations as Brahmans go to the river at the same spot for a ritual bath. No one else is supposed to enter or cross the river when the Brahmans are in it. After bathing the Brahmans replace their jona s, while passages from the Vedas are being recited. They mark their foreheads with vertical and then horizontal triple parallel lines, and put small pieces of cow dung above their eyes, all of which is said to represent the Trisul and other symbols of Siva, and marks their vocation as Shaivite priests. The seven eldest Brahmans present represent the seven Rsis[*] , and the other Brahmans pray to them and to their pitr[*] s, their patrilineal ancestors, and make offerings. These proceedings are considered by the Brahmans as a reestablishment of their sacred authority through purification and rededication to the seven Rsis[*] from one or another of whom all Brahmans claim descent.

There are also symbolic actions of exchange and solidarity at this time. Each Brahman brings with him many yellow threads and small cloth bags containing a mixture of dried white flowers and two kinds of seeds. These represent the household from which the Brahman, or most often a group of Brahmans, come. The threads and bags are put in the purified area in which the Rsi[*]puja is to take place. Then, at the end of the puja , one of the Brahman leaders, fastens bags from all households on each of the Brahmans, tying them to their left wrists by means of the yellow threads. Then each Brahman takes threads and bags from his household, and ties one in turn onto the wrists of each of the other Brahmans.[36]

There are a miscellany of other customary activities during the day of Gunhi Punhi. Many people from Bhaktapur, including Hindus, go to the important valley Buddhist religious center, the great stupa Svayambhunatha, on this day. There are special ceremonies among farmers in Bhaktapur, including the worship of frogs (whom farmers inadvertently kill while working in the fields), who help protect those fields from malevolent spirits. On this day people traditionally eat a kind of soup prepared from nine varieties of beans, which is said to protect them from intestinal ailments.

On the late afternoon of the day there is an event that acts as a preamble to the focal festival, which will begin the following day. On the night of Gunhi Punhi there is a minor procession that is supported by funds from the Guthi Samsthan, the Central Government Committee which now provides the centralized and bureaucratically controlled


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support of many cultural events. The participants, who receive funds from the committee for their costume and incidental expenses, are members of one of the Jyapu thar s, from a group of families living near Laeku Square. Some six or eight men from these families, wearing traditional Jyapu costumes and taking the roles of both men and women, perform traditional farmers' dances accompanied by thar musicians. This small group dances around the pradaksinapatha[*] in the late afternoon. Masses of people go to watch them. The procession is a preamble to the events of the next day, when similar but greatly more elaborate dances are elements in that day's festival. (Moderate.)

Saparu [48], the Cow Festivalof the Dead of the Previous Year, and the Annual Carnival

The first day of the waning fortnight Gu(n)laga (August) is the time for a major festival (see fig. 22) commemorating those who have died in Bhaktapur during the previous year. The festival includes two elements in an intimate mixture, commemorations of death and carnival. The day's events and the inaugural procession of the previous afternoon introduce a period of related activities lasting until the eighth day of the fortnight. The day is called "Saparu" (sometimes "Saparu") or "Saya" in Newari, and Gai Jatra in Nepali. "Sa " means cow, and paru (according to Manandhar [1975, 577]) may derive from parewa , the name of the first day of the lunar fortnight. In local speculation the word derives from sapa , "cow mask," with the ya of Saya supposedly deriving from jatra or yatra , "procession." All these terms refer more specifically to one of the day's elements (which gives the day its name) a procession of real and symbolic cows. The carnival that is mixed with this procession, but which is a distinguishable aspect, will be discussed below.

There are various stories that relate the cow, death and this particular day (Anderson 1971, chap. 10; Nepali 1965, 353ff.).[37] The consensus is vague and the details vary but it is on this day that the "Cow Goddess" can help the wandering spirits of the dead who had died during the previous year to cross the river Vaitarani into death's realm.[38] Once the spirit enters death's kingdom, Yama's realm, it can, in traditional doctrine, be "judged" and then transformed into its proper next stage. Much more usual in Bhaktapur seems to be the idea that it is on this day with the help of the Cow Goddess that the wandering spirits will enter "heaven," the idea of judgment in Yama's realm being ignored or suppressed.


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Figure 22.
The Saparu festival. An image in the form of the Cow Goddess
Vaitarani representing someone who has died during the previous year.


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Some of the other annual calendrical commemorative ceremonies for the dead, namely, those devoted to mothers [33] and fathers [51] apply only to those who have been dead for more than one year, that is, after the first year's period of mourning has been completed. However, the Saparu festival, as its legend indicates, concerns those who have died within the past year, with the exception of the period just prior to the festivals, in which case the first sequence of death rites is still being performed and the members of the household and the phuki are still impure. Members of all thar s except the untouchables take part.

Although the cow jatra , thought to be a specifically Newar festival, exists in other Newar communities, in Bhaktapur it is highly elaborated, and many Newars and other Nepalese come to Bhaktapur from other places to watch it.

The procession is made up of constructions in the form of the Cow Goddess and, rarely, actual cows representing her, each of which represents a particular dead person. Each cow figure is preceded by a carnival group made up of friends or phuki of the household to which the dead person belonged.[39] The groups vary in number, but in the case of important or particularly popular people they may include hundreds of participants. The symbolic cows may be either "long" or "short" ones, the long ones representing adults, the short ones children.[40] Other aspects of their decoration indicate whether they were male or female. It is commonly said that in the Malla period officials standing at the palace—which the procession must pass on the festival route—could, by counting the figures, tell how many men, women, boys, and girls had died in Bhaktapur during the previous year. In the few cases now where living cows are used, they are not differentially marked. The long images have a mask of a cow mounted toward the top end of an elaborately decorated long pole. The pole, which requires four men to carry it, is carried in the procession by representatives of the family. The short cow is simply a basket with a mask on it, which is worn over the head of the family representative. Traditionally for the upper thar s these representations were carried or worn by farmers who farmed portions of the deceased person's family's land and performed various services for the family. Those of the middle and lower thar s were carried by phuki members.

Each family supervises the production of the figure that will represent them in the jatra . They are assisted by phuki members, friends, and neighbors. The day before the jatra the household members undergo a major purification. On the day of the festival the cow figure is wor-


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shiped by all family members, male and female, as the Cow Goddess, in a puja that is referred to as tarae yagu , literally "crossing a bridge or river," in keeping with the legend explaining the day's events. The cow figure is asked to help the dead person get into Vaikunta[*] , Visnu/Narayana's[*] special heaven. Participation in the Saparu procession and the related worship is considered a necessary part of the long sequence of rituals done after the death of any individual (app. 6). In keeping with the legend associated with the festival, it is believed that the dead person will remain as a preta if this participation is neglected, as would also be the case if the various other essential death rituals were neglected.[41] Most upper-status participating households have also on this day and prior to the procession, a gau dan , a special memorial ritual requiring a Brahman purohita ’s assistance, with the main ritual mourner, the kriya putra (ideally the eldest son) as the central worshiper. The Brahmans themselves, will—in contrast—have their gau dan following the termination of the procession.

The cow jatra procession moves around the city's main festival route. Each symbolic cow, preceded by revelers, enters the festival procession at a point on the pradaksinapatha[*] jatra route near each family's home. The group makes a circuit of the route, which takes roughly two hours, and then leaves the procession when they are back at the same point at which they entered it. Family members, consisting of the chief mourner, his brothers, and some pbuki members, close affinal relatives and friends, will walk as mourners behind the cow. This group consists of men and children of both sexes. Women watch from the sidelines of the procession. Each group enters the procession at its end as it passes their entrance point, but the result, because of the mixed social constitution of most twa :s, is that the various twa :s are represented in the line of the procession in more or less random social order.

When people from all other neighborhoods have entered the procession the people from the large Lakulache(n) sub-twa : in the Ta:marhi main twa : enter it. They then arrange themselves differently than the participants of the previous twa :s, in a way that makes an impressive visual climax to the procession. For this group all the carnival dancers and maskers representing all the participating households in that neighborhood enter the procession as one group. This group of carnival dancers is joined by anyone in Bhaktapur who wishes to join in the carnival whether or not they are connected to any bereaved household. The dancers are followed, in turn, by a large group of musicians playing the special dance and processional music associated with the jatra .


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Behind the musicians men carry a tall image constructed of bamboo and rice straw in shape resembling the long cow images but painted and dressed to represent Bhairava rather than the Cow Goddess. Behind the Bhairava image all the cow images from the Lakulache(n) Twa: households are carried one after the other in a dense mass of images and followed by the household mourners. This large group constitutes the end of the procession. When it gets to Laeku Square, it circumambulates the statue of the Newar King Bhupatindra[*] Malla, which is located there, three times and then disbands.

Except for the Brahmans, who still have to do their gau dan puja , the day's religious activities are finished. People return to their houses, and the cow images are taken to the river and thrown into it. Household feasts are held m the bereaved households for all who have worked with the household on the image and/or accompanied it in the procession. The married-out household women are expected to return to the household for this feast.

Although the aspect of the Saparu jatra to which we have referred as "carnival" is, as we have seen, an integral part of the day's events, it is convenient to discuss it separately. It is often terminologically distinguished from the remainder of the jatra by referring to it as "Ghe(n)ta(n) Ghesi(n)[42] Mhetegu." The term "Ghe(n)ta(n) Ghesi(n)" is said to refer onomatopoeically to the sound of a particular kind of drum beat. Mhetegu means to play, as to play at a game. The activities referred to by the term take place only at this time, beginning with the preliminary performances on Gunhi Punhi evening, which we have noted above. Traditionally only farmer thar s and above (including, it may be noted, young Brahmans) participated, but now people from lower groups, with the exception of the untouchables, do. Traditionally, and still, only men take part. This is an "antistructural" festival, but as always in Bhaktapur within strict limits.

On the Saparu day people are free to choose their costumes and their dance performances. Sometimes a subgroup of those preceding a cow image may work together as a thematic unit, but often individuals have their own individual theme. The "free choices," however, usually are among a conventional set of forms, which can be illustrated from the examples we have seen:

1. A popular group of costumes and performances portrays Jyapu activities, and is done both by Jyapus themselves and by upper-level


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participants. Many of these are derived from traditional Jyapu dances. People may mimic breaking the soil with a hoe, or cutting grain stalks. Frequently the dance represents a Jyapu couple, with one man taking the man's part, and another the woman's.[43] It is important to remark that these dances are not lampoons but serious and graceful dance forms.

2. A variant portrayal of Jyapu life shows a Jyapu and Jyapuni, represented by either dancers or puppets carried on the tops of poles by masked dancers. The farmer and his wife often carry sticks, and the couple performs a burlesque fight something like a Western Punch and Judy performance.

3. In addition to dancing Jyapunis, men may sometimes dress and dance as pretty girls of undetermined social status (see fig. 23). Sometimes they perform as a mother, cradling a doll baby (see fig. 24). Such dances, like the Jyapu-Jyapuni dances, are not done satirically but, often, with considerable grace, beauty, and seriousness.

4. There are gross and obscene sexual references in some portrayals, of a kind that would be publicly unacceptable otherwise except during the Devi cycle's Gatha Muga: Ca:re [45] celebrations. In these dances, for example, two men will dance as a heterosexual couple, embracing and moving their hips in coital movements. Others may construct a large model penis and vagina, banging them together in mimicry of sexual intercourse in time to the music of the festival musicians who accompany each group of mourner-revelers. Other men may add mock genitalia, such as a banana and two globular fruits or vegetables to their costumes.[44]

5. Some dances mimic drunkenness, the performer pretending to drink from a container, and staggering.

6. Another popular group is animals and supernatural forest creatures—bears, tigers, monkeys, Yetis, demons of various types, and so forth.c:\t

7. Participants frequently dress as sadhu s and other types of holy "renouncers."

8. Men dress as various deities, both male and female. These include most prominently Siva (who is perhaps the most frequent deity chosen) and Parvati, Krsna[*] and Radha, and Rama and Sita.

9. Performers often dress as Moghul Rajas, with turbans and robes.


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Figure 23.
Saparu carnival. Man dancing as a woman.


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Figure 24.
Saparu carnival. Young man dancing as a mother and carrying a doll child.


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10. Sometimes the costumes and decorations are purely abstract and decorative, such as a face painted half black and half white.

There is another category of role-taking that we have saved until last because it has been emphasized in some of the literature on this festival[45] but seems, at least in Bhaktapur in the period of this study and the years preceding it, to be a minor and muted one. This is the category of satire with some possible political implication. There are some examples of this. People may carry a placard with a caricature of some unpopular figure in the government, sometimes as part of a mock-funeral procession. Most often the satire is more veiled. In one procession, for example, a man danced as a particular rhesus monkey that lived near (and often on) the Bhaktapur royal palace, which now houses some central government administrative offices. It was clear to the onlookers with a little coaching that this represented the chief administrative officer of the district at the time. But the political satire is carefully guarded, and really important figures would be represented, if at all, in most veiled, ambiguous, and—it is hoped—safe forms. Other upper-status figures are represented, but gently—Brahmans dressed in dhotis , public storytellers (who are traditionally Brahmans) represented as telling obscene stories, tourists complete with Western garb (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and mock cameras hung over their shoulders. Although these representations are both muted and rare at present, one can imagine conditions in which they might become dominant.

The carnival performances of Saparu play with the constraints of Bhaktapur's social structure. Satire is only one small component of this. On this day the participants can express things that are usually difficult to express in ordinary civic life. Constraints of gender, role, decent behavior, and (more carefully) respect for hierarchy are overcome, within the usual limits that Bhaktapur imposes on such Dionysian behavior. It is said by older people that on Saparu anyone can be king; anyone can be anything he wants. In fact, however, social criticism and political criticism, is limited; women and the lowest-level thar s cannot take part; among those who do take part, upper thar s usually represent lower ones, and the reverse is less frequent. This latter constraint, however, indicates perhaps something more than some limit on lower-status people escaping the system even in fantasy. The lower-level thar s represent for the upper thar s not only the negative aspects of lower status but also a greater freedom from constraints, including the sexual constraints


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whose fantasized overcoming is represented in many of the carnival performances. Upper thar s in Bhaktapur, conversely, represent greater constraints of propriety and self-control for people in the lower thar s looking up. Motives of satire and resentment aside, it would be contrary to the spirit of escape symbolized by the carnival to change ones role for what is, in a certain sense, a still more socially constrained one.

In its involvement of the entire city in public space, the procession on the pradaksinapatha[*] ; in its concern with the deaths that took place in the city during the preceding year; in its differentiated representation of those deaths by age, sex, and area; and in its carnival expression of the kind of fantasy that reveals something of the structure of the city's life through the freedom and constraints of its "antistructural" play, Saparu is a major festival of focal importance for Bhaktapur. However, its concern with ritual assistance for the preta s of its recently dead to enter heaven—based essentially on the individual work of each bereaved household and reflecting no social differentiation of any significance to the city beyond maturity and gender—as well as the antistructural play of its carnival, puts Saparu in marked contrast to the greatly more elaborate focal festivals of structure , Biska: and Mohani, that we will consider in later chapters. Saparu may be labeled as an "anti-structural focal festival."

The week following Saparu, coming to an end on the eighth day of the fortnight, is a period in which many pyakha(n) s, or "dance dramas," are presented throughout the city. These are of different kinds. One group is of particular interest in that the unmarried girls in a household may join in it, this being the only time in which women in Bhaktapur dance publicly now, although, as we have noted above, women and girls in some thar s must have danced at some time in the past. These particular dances, often called for some reason "Ramayana," usually danced to the music of the Indian instruments, tabla (small drums) and harmonium, accompany songs written by family members to commemorate a person in their family who has died during the year. Family groups, with their singers, dancers, and musicians, walk around the city festival route. Friends and relatives intercept them at various points and invite them to their houses where the group performs their pyakha(n) in the public space in front of the friend or relative's house watched by neighborhoods and bypassers.

Other pyakha(n) s are performed by various groups during this week.


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Some of these are traditional stories, some newly created ones, some serious and sentimental, others comic, satirical, or farcical. This is one of the two periods during the year when such pyakha(n) s, are presented. The other is during the eight days of the Indra Jatra sequence [59-65] in the following lunar fortnight. Many of the pyakha(n) s done during the Indra Jatra period are the same or similar to those done following Saparu, but comic dances are done only in the Saparu period, extending the carnival emphasis as the "Ramayana" pyakha(n) s extend the commemoration of the year's deaths.

Miscellaneous Events: Krsna[*] Janmastami [49] and Sitala Puja [50]

On the eighth day of the month there is a small festival of Krsna[*] . A Krsna[*] image is taken from its god-house and carried around the festival route, and there is worship of Krsna[*] in some homes and by some devotees at the city's Krsna[*] shrines, which the devotees visit in turn in a procession. This jatra had, reportedly, been introduced into Bhaktapur only some eight to ten years before the study. The devotees were said to be the same people who had become bhakti devotees of Rama (compare Rama Navami [32] above). As is always the case with Bhaktapur's festivals for these avatars of Visnu[*] , the contrast with other parts of India is striking. Thus Janmastami is "probably the most important vrata and utsava celebrated throughout the whole of India" (Kane 1968-1977, vol. V, p. 128). (Minor.)

On the ninth day of the fortnight, the day of Sitala Puja [50], people, women for the most part, used to go to the statue at Hanuman Ghat[*] of Sitala, the goddess who represents and protects against smallpox, to ask for protection for the family. This calendrical event is thought to he specific to Bhaktapur. In recent years with the disappearance of smallpox these visits are rare. (Minor.)

On the fourteenth day of the fortnight, Pa(n)cara(n) Ca:re, there is an important Buddhist festival, that of the five Dipankara Buddhas. Five giant and dramatic images of these Buddhas (supported by and enclosing the body of a dancer) march through the city, each coming from a different direction to a central point. These images are associated by local Newar Hindus with the Five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata epic. Hindus make respect gestures to the images as they are moved through the streets and take prasada from their attendants.


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Gokarna[*] Au(n)si [51], Honoring Fathers

Exactly four months after the new-moon day on which mothers are honored and commemorated [33], on the new-moon day[46] closing the waning fortnight of Gu(n)laga there is an equivalent symmetrical event honoring and commemorating fathers. People whose fathers have died more than one year previously try to join other Nepalis in a mela at the village of Gokarna[*] about five miles northeast of Kathmandu, at a spot on the Gokarna[*] River adjacent to a Siva linga[*] shrine.[47] The pilgrims bathe in the river and perform a commemorative puja for their fathers and all their male deceased ancestors. People who cannot go to Gokarna[*] nevertheless bathe and make the offerings at one of the tirtha s at the river in Bhaktapur.

Those people whose father is living worship him at home, married-out daughters and sons separated from the household returning for this purpose if possible. In the evening there is a feast in the house. (Moderate.)

Miscellaneous Minor Events [52-58]: a Note on Tij, a Festival Which the Newars do not Have

The waxing fortnight of Ya(n)lathwa (August/September) contains eleven festival events, in some cases two different festivals taking place in the same day. In the latter part of the fortnight the complex festival set of events, Indra Jatra [59-65] begins. We will note here first those miscellaneous festivals that precede the beginning of the Indra Jatra. On the second day of the fortnight is the Surya Vinayaka Jatra [52]. The jatra image of the Surya Vinayaka Ganesa[*] (chap. 8) is carried around the city's main processional route, followed by its devotees. Most of these participants are people from the village, just outside of the city, where the god's shrine is located, but others, as is the case in all minor jatra s, but particularly for those of Narayana[*] and Ganesa[*] , are people who have taken the god as a "private god" for some period of time. The festival is held only in Bhaktapur. (Minor.)

On the same day is the Varahi Jatra [53], commemorating Varahi as the mandalic[*] goddess of her particular section of the city. Local people take the jatra image from the god-house and, accompanied by musicians, carry it around the city's main festival route. This is one of the few jatra s in which both married and unmarried women, dressed in


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their better clothes, traditionally join men in their phuki group in following the deity. This festival is only held in Bhaktapur.

The third day of the fortnight also has two festivals. The first of these is the Dattatreya Jatra, [54]. This is primarily a local twa: jatra , but in the course of the day an image of Dattatreya, whose temple is located in the Tachapal twa :, is carried around the city's main festival route. The other festival of the day is a Bhairava Jatra [55]. An image of Bhairava from the main Bhairava temple[48] is, in its turn, carried around the main festival route. These are minor jatra s, as are the others of this period.

The people of Bhaktapur define themselves differentially in part not only by the customs and festivals they emphasize, but by those followed by others, particularly those that are of great importance to others, which they do not observe. One such festival is Tij, which the Indo-Nepalese (and Hindus in general; see Kane [1968-1977, vol. V, p. 144f.) celebrate on the third day of the fortnight, and which the Newars ignore.[49] The Tij events contribute to a ritual complex that is the-matically completed on the fifth day of the fortnight, Rsi[*] Pa(n)cami, according to Lynn Bennett's analysis (1983, 222f.). Some of the themes of Tij are present in attenuated form in Bhaktapur's Rsi[*] Pa(n)cami [58]; for example, women pray to be spared painful difficulties with menstruation, but other of the themes are not represented.

According to Bennett for the Chetri villagers she studied, "Tij is meant to ensure the long life of one's husband, while Rsi[*] Pa(n)cami is meant to purify women from the possible sin of having touched a man during their menstrual period. . .. In my view . . . the two are conceptually related" (1983, 222). Bennett (ibid., 225) emphasizes women's erotic activity during Tij, characterized by behavior that is a "virtual seduction of Siva" (the legendary reference is to the relations of Parvati and Siva, as set forth in the Swasthani Vrata Katha ):

The laughing, singing, and dancing at Tij . . . represents a complete reversal of the Hindu ideal of womanly behavior. To say that a girl is shy, embarrassed . . . is to prasise her highly. On Tij the high spirits, the flirtatiousness, the sexuality which women must ordinarily suppress are released en masse at Siva's temple. However, this display of the erotic side of female nature is only permissible because, on Tij, it is held in check by the strict purifying fast which the women are undergoing for the welfare of their husbands. On the morning after Tij, women must perform a puja and make offerings to a Brahman priest dedicating the merit of their fast to their husband (present, future, or in the next life) before they can break the fast. The dangers of


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female sexuality are thus firmly bracketed by the mutually reinforcing ascetic and patrilineal ideals.

The Chetri women go as a group to the riverside on Rsi[*] Pa(n)cami for an elaborate purification ceremony that removes the impurities associated with menstrual blood so that they "may be pure enough to touch men" (Bennett 1983, 225). The bathing is followed by a ceremony (which has a reference to the Rsi[*] , who give the day its name) in which in Bennett's interpretation "women are purifying their own sexuality. They are channeling it in the only direction acceptable to Hindu patrilineal ideology—toward their own husbands" (ibid., 230). In the light of this discussion, the Newar nonadoption of Tij and the very minor echo of the Chetri women's procedures of Rsi[*] Pa(n)cami (below) is consonant with one of the main contrasts between the Newar Hindus and the non-Newar Hindus, the social position of their women. The relative freedom of the Newar women, centrally represented in the mock-marriage and their relations to their natal homes, makes for a context in which the carefully bounded ritual expression of women's sexuality and its subsequent restoration to patriarchal control, which is (following Bennett) the meaning of Tij, is much less significant. As a remnant, perhaps, of their northern Himalayan heritage, these tensions are structured, expressed and controlled among the Newars in, comparatively more diffuse and less oppressive ways.

The fourth day of the fortnight is the pan-Hindu Catha Ganesa[*] day [56]. "Catha" derives from the Sanskrit, Caturthi, the fourth day of the lunar month. This is the occasion in most households for a special puja to Ganesa[*] , and offerings of the foods that are supposed to be his favorites. The day is associated with stories associating Ganesa[*] and this fortnight's waxing crescent moon which is supposed to be dangerous if seen on this day. It is said that there are at least some people, at all social levels in Bhaktapur, who try to avoid seeing it. They reportedly go to less length than do those noted in Anderson (1971, 124) and Nepali (1965, 404) who seal the windows of their house and remain inside on this day in order to avoid seeing the moon. (Minor.)

The last event in this miscellaneous group is on the fifth day, the pa(n)cami , of the fortnight, Rsi[*] Pa(n)cami [57]. The Rsis[*] are worshiped in some households, particularly in upper-status ones, with a dhala(n) danegu puja (app. 4). On this day some women worship the Rsis[*]


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for, it is said, good health, including protection against menstrual difficulties and for protection of the house and children in what is, apparently, an echo of the theme of the Chetri practice described by Bennett (1983), in that they are both derived from traditional Hindu vratas of the day.[50] However, the Newar practices are individually performed in the household not in groups of women; they are minor pujas and not elaborate purification ceremonies, and they are not in the dramatic context of the Tij ceremonies, as are the Chetri women's practices of the day. (Minor.)

On the seventh day of the fortnight, the day of Uma/Mahesvara [58], in many households, but especially in Jyapu houses, there is special worship of Parvati and Siva in their manifestation as Uma/Mahesvara represented as an affectionate conjugal couple. Women present ceremonial threads to the idealized couple, and then take one back as prasada and tie it around their husband's wrist. (Minor.)

Events During the Period of Indra Jatra [59-65]: the Transformation of Festival Themes and Events in Different Newar Cities and Towns

From the twelfth day of Ya(n)lathwa to the fourth day of the following waning fortnight of Ya(n)laga is the eight-day period of Indra Jatra, which in some other Newar communities, most notably in Kathmandu, maintains aspects of an ancient Indian calendrical festival (V. S. Agrawala 1970, 55). In Kathmandu Indra Jatra is a thematically integrated sequence that is one of the focal festival events of that city's annual calendar. Each of the Newar cities and towns have one or more such festival events or sequences that are specially developed in the community and which attract people from other communities as spectators. Conversely, a festival cycle that is highly developed in one community appears, by contrast, to be relatively (and sometimes completely) ignored in another. Indra Jatra is an example of a festival that is comparatively ignored in Bhaktapur. The group of calendrical events that we are including together here as taking place during the span of Indra Jatra contain some events [59, 61, 65], which are clearly represented in Kathmandu as integrated by certain local legends about Indra, and are understood to be related to these stories by some people in Bhaktapur. For many or perhaps most people in Bhaktapur, however, they are simply independent events, of the same disconnected


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kind as the other miscellaneous calendrical events that happen to fall within these eight days.

The equivocally component days of the Indra Jatra (i.e., days that have thematic connections with the integrated sequence as it has been described for Kathmandu) are Yama Dya: Thanigu [59], Indrani[*] Jatra [61], Yau Dya: Punhi [62], and Pulu Kisi Haigu [65].

In Kathmandu Indra Jatra is a major eight-day festival consisting of a number of dramatic and climactic events. Some of these events in Kathmandu are related to a legend of Indra's personal relation to that city. Others center on the dangerous deity Akas Bhairava (represented by huge dramatic masks), on Bhagavati, on the living goddess Kumari, and on other comparatively minor supernatural figures (Nepali 1965, 358-369; Anderson 1971, chap. 15).

We have suggested that some of the similar events of this period in Bhaktapur are transformed in meaning because they are not put in the context of a major integrative festival. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that some of the elements in Kathmandu's focal Indra Jatra are moved in Bhaktapur to other times of the year and, for the most part, amalgamated into Bhaktapur's own major and focal festivals. Thus, for example, the Kathmandu Indra Jatra festival is inaugurated and ends with the raising and then, eight days later, lowering of a forty-foot pole, the trunk of a particular kind of tree. The same kind of tree, gathered in the same place by members of Bhaktapur's branch of the same thar (the Sa:mi), is erected and lowered as one of the central symbolic foci in Bhaktapur's Biska: festival. During Kathmandu's Indra Jatra a procession (associated there with a group of legends about Indra and "Indra's mother") for the salvation of those who had died during the previous years is in some ways a transformation of Bhaktapur's Saparu procession. Indra Jatra in Kathmandu is the period in which the living goddess, Kumari, makes her main public appearance, and establishes her relationship to the Gorkha king. In Bhaktapur this happens, with Bhaktapur's own Kumari, during Mohani. Kathmandu's Indra Jatra period is the major time for the appearance of masked dancers representing demon-like gods who fight on the side of dharma against the Asuras and other antagonistic supernatual beings. One representation of this is the killing by the Kathmandu dancers of a buffalo representing an Asura king. All this is represented in Bhaktapur during the Mohani festival and in the subsequent nine-month cycle of the Nine Durgas dancers.

Many people in Bhaktapur seem to know some local version of the


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Indra story. Here is a brief sketch of one of Bhaktapur's versions: Indra's mother sent him to get some white flowers of a special kind from a particular garden on earth. A demon caught Indra taking the flowers, accused him of stealing them, and captured him. "Indra's mother," who is not otherwise named in the tale, not knowing where Indra was, sent Indra's vehicle, an elephant, to earth to find him. The elephant found Indra and reported his whereabouts to Indra's mother, who came to earth to rescue him. The demon released Indra when his mother came, and she gave the demon clouds and fog as a reward, the clouds and fog necessary for protecting the rice, which is still growing at this period of the year. When Indra and his Mother returned to heaven, people on earth wanted to follow them and so some of them left a trail of grain on the gods' path so that the humans could later find their way there.

The twelfth day of the fortnight, the beginning of the Indra Jatra, period in Kathmandu, is called in Bhaktapur the "Yama Dya: Thanigu" day [59], the day of the erecting of the Yama God. In Kathmandu the raising of a pole made from a tall tree trunk in a central square signals the beginning of the festival there and marks a focal spatial point. In many of Bhaktapur's twa :s, tree poles are erected.[51] They are said to represent the ruler of the kingdom of death, Yama. These local poles are left up, as is the Kathmandu central one, for the entire eight-day period. Flowers are placed at the top of the pole, and twa : people do daily pujas to it during the eight days. It is thought that this will help protect the local twa : people from death. (Moderate.)

On the fourteenth day of the fortnight—and with no reference to the Indra cycle—is the Ananta Narayana[*] Puja [60]. This is a local representation of a traditional South Asian Hindu event in honor of Visnu/Narayana[*] . Many people go to one of the Visnu[*] temples on this day, as they did on the other city-wide Visnu[*] festival, Tulasi Piye [43]. Some Chathariya families follow the traditional Hindu custom of pledging to do a Brahman-assisted household puja to Visnu[*] each year on this day for a period of fourteen years. (Minor.)

On the fourteenth day (the same day as Narayana[*] Puja) and continuing on the fifteenth and final day, the full-moon day, of the fortnight is Indrani[*] Jatra [61]. Additional events of the fifteenth day are designated as the festival of that full-moon day, Yau Dya: Punhi [62], but they also represent the completion of the two-day Indrani[*] Jatra. The Indrani[*]jatra image is taken from her local god-house and carried in a procession around the entire city, followed by people from the local


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mandalic[*] area Indrani[*] is thought of, by some at least, on this occasion not as, or only as, the Indrani[*] of the Astamatrkas[*] group, but as Indra's consort. The image is carried to one of the artificial ponds in the city, the Ta Pukhu, and left there in an open building, a phalca , overnight. (Moderate.)

The next day is the full-moon day, called "Yau Dya: Punhi" [62]. The name "Yau Dya:," the Yau God, seems to come from a set of three torches called Ya matta (or Swarga ["heaven"] Ya matta ), which are carried around the city on a long stick by a member of the Sa:mi thar on the three days following this punhi . They are considered to be a manifestation of a god, and people try to see the lights, a view that is said to enable them to enter Swarga , heaven, at some time during the period. This reflects the Indra Jatra's legend's theme of the following of Indra and his mother into their heaven. On this day people come from surrounding villages and towns (particularly from the large town of Thimi) and from other parts of Bhaktapur for ritual baths in the Ta Pukhu and to worship the image of Indrani[*] . The day is, thus, a mela . In the afternoon the image is carried around the city festival route and then returned to its god-house. (Moderate.)

The span of Indra Jatra continues into the next fortnight, the waning fortnight Ya(n)laga (September). On the second day of the fortnight a man from a nearby village, paid by the central government's Guthi Samsthan, comes to Bhaktapur to begin three days of performance. He represents a demon called "Mu Patra," wears a metal crown (which is at other times kept in the Taleju temple), and dresses in the old Malla-period Moghul-style royal costume. He is accompanied by two demon attendants, called "Dhicas." He visits during these three days the poles that had been set up in the different twa :s on the Yama Dya: Thanigu day [59] representing Yama. He circumambulates each pole three times, hitting it with a traditional Malla period sword. People now are uncertain about the meaning of all this, although it seems to have been related both to the period's Indra legend and to another supernatural creature, the Pulu Kisi, who appears on the last day [65] of the period's set of events. G. S. Nepali wrote (of Bhaktapur) that the Mu Patra represented the demon enemy of Indra, and that the poles that he strikes thus represent Indra. According to Nepali, care is taken that Mu Patra does not encounter the Pulu Kisi, which "is the riding animal of Indra . . . [which] has come in search of its master. . .. In the event of their facing each other, there ensues a fight between the two, involving their respective supporters" (1965, 364). In fact, in recent memory they have


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not met, and the significance and possibility of their encounter seems no longer an issue. The violence that, as we shall see, does sometimes occur in relation to the Pulu Kisi—whose relation to Indra is now vague—is not related to the Mu Patra, who is a symbolic form that has now lost much of its meaning and power.

On the third day of the fortnight there is a small local jatra , Chuma(n) Gandya: Jatra [63], in one of the city's main twa :s, Coche(n) twa: . It is noteworthy and peculiar in that it is a minor version of a more important event with the same name, the same associated legend, and in the same location that takes place on the eighth day of the solar New Year festival, Biska:. That event will be described in the next chapter. The one listed here is minor.

On the fourth day of the fortnight, the last day of the Indra Jatra span, there are two festivals. The first, Smasana[*] Bhailadya: Jatra, is not associated with the themes of the Indra story, although it reflects references to King Yama and to death. The second, Pulu Kisi Haigu, which ends this set of events, contains some reflections of the Indra story and some correspondences to its closing sequences in Kathmandu.

Smasana[*] Bhailadya: Jatra [64], refers to the Bhairava who inhabits the Mu Dip cremation grounds (see chap. 8). "Smasana[*] " means cremation grounds in Sanskrit and Nepali. An image representing this Bhairava is painted on a pulu , a reed mat, by a properly initiated member of the Pu(n) thar , the mask makers, and painters of religious images. Pulus are the mats used for covering dead bodies while they are being carried in funeral processions to cremation grounds. If the head priest of the Taleju temple has died during the previous year, his pulu is taken from his corpse, saved, and used in this procession; otherwise, it is a new and unused one. It is said that during the time of the Malla kings their pulus were kept after their death. The pulu of a deceased king would be used every year in this annual procession until replaced by the next king's pulu following the death of that king. On this day now the pulu is hung in front of the main Bhairava temple. People either passing by or coming to the temple for the purpose, make respectful gestures to the pulu . People who encounter it fear it and, as is the case generally for dangerous deities, fear that if they neglect to worship it or show it formal respect they will be harmed in some way. At a designated time during the day a goat is sacrificed in the square adjoining the temple. The pulu is then taken and carried by a member of the Dwi(n) thar (level XII; see chap. 5) in a procession around the main city festival route until the


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Bhairava temple is once again reached and the pulu is once again hung on the wall for the remainder of the day. (Moderate.)

On the same day as the Smasana[*] Bhailadya: Jatra there is another event that makes for a kind of climax to the loosely grouped set of events of the eight-day period. This event is called "Pulu Kisi Haigu" [65]. (Pulu is the funeral mat, kisi means elephant, and haigu means to bring, thus the name means the bringing of the "Pulu Kisi.") The Pulu Kisi is an image of an elephant constructed of reed mats. The image is carried around the city, starting in the Lakulache(n) neighborhood, and is carried and attended by local people. The elephant has a bell around its neck, which is rung by the attendants during the procession. During this time other bells in the city are not to be rung. When the image passes by, bystanders, both men and women, must uncover their heads as a gesture of respect. If they do not the attendants of the elephant, often carrying the elephant with them, may charge into the crowd, and forcibly uncover the offender's head, removing the hat or shawl. The elephant also is occasionally made to charge into the crowd of bystanders even if there is no show of disrespect. This is frequently the occasion for a general fight between attendants and crowd, sometimes extending to and dividing groups or individuals within the crowd. This day is one of the times when people traditionally drink, and the attendants of the elephant and many in the crowd are drunk. When the elephant, in its movement around the city's festival route, now followed by crowds of people, approaches Dattatreya Square in the northern part of the city, it leaves the route to "drink at a well" where Indra's elephant once drank. This is often the occasion for fairly serious fights, characteristically between members of the upper and lower halves of the city. These are sometimes precipitated by someone from the upper city ringing a temple bell in the square in contravention of the custom of the day.

The Pulu Kisi refers now secondarily to Indra,[52] but more clearly to death (the funeral mats, and its association with the Smasana[*] Bhailadya: Jatra of the same day), to danger, and to threat. Its attacks on the crowd randomly or for not showing respect have parallels in the Nine Durga pyakha(n)s during the Devi cycle. Its connection to intra-city fighting is an echo of the events of the Biska: sequence. However, the similar themes in those two focal festival groups are coherently related to themes not only of ritual conflict but also the symbolic resolution of that conflict. In contrast with such festival events, and as we have noted, in contrast with the simultaneous events in Kathmandu, the events of


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the Indra Jatra period in Bhaktapur are not integrated. They seem in a sense to be fragments of what may have been once in Bhaktapur—and that is now elsewhere—a coherent set. In spite of its drama, its significance and the size of its audience probably are "moderate" in comparison to other more important events.

During these eight days pyakha(n) s, resembling some of those performed after Saparu, are given in some parts of the city. The period closes after the Pulu Kisi Haigu procession with the removal of the Indra/Yama poles in the twa :s

The Remainder of the Yearly Calendrical Cycle [66-79]

There is one more calendrical event during this fortnight. This is Dhala(n) Sala(n) [66], which may optionally be observed on either the ninth day of the fortnight or the fifteenth, the new-moon day. This is a day for one of the ceremonies in the long sequence following death (app. 6). The ceremony is for the "pitr s[*] ," in this case all deceased ancestors of a phuki group who have been dead for more than two years, and the ceremonies are performed ideally at the riverside by large groups of associated phuki members. Occasionally phuki members conduct a continuous series of sraddha[*] procedures on sixteen consecutive days, starting with the day on which they do the Dhala(n) Sala(n) ceremony. (Moderate.)

The first ten days of the next fortnight, the waxing fortnight of Kaulathwa (September/October), is the period of the focal autumnal rice harvest festival Mohani [67-76], which will be discussed in the presentation of the Devi cycle in chapter 16. During the last three days of the final fortnight of the lunar year, Kaulaga, three events take place which are the three introductory days of the Swanti sequence [77, 78, 79], which culminate and begin anew the lunar year, and which were described at the beginning of this chapter.


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