Celebrating Mohani during Nepal Tours

Kathmandu Valley in Nepal

Kathmandu Valley in Nepal

During their Nepal tours in the month of September, tourists can be a part of Mohani. The Newaris, one of the ethnic groups of the Kathmandu Valley, celebrate this festival with a lot of fanfare. Mohani is a ten-day celebration and its first nine days are dedicated to the different forms of Goddess Durga. The celebration signifies the killing of the Demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga and Chanda by Goddess Chamunda. It is also of significance to the Buddhist as it symbolises the laying down of arms by Emperor Ashoka and his conversion to the faith. The most important are days 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th that refer to days 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the second half of the month of Kaula as per the Nepali calendar.

Family Rituals

Taleju Temple in Nepal

Taleju Temple in Nepal

On Day 1, people sow barley seeds in small pots in their homes and keep them in their personal temples. Seven days later, a huge feast, known as Kucchi Bhoy, is held where members sit according to their age. Day 8 involves elaborate worshipping and making offerings to tools and machines. The Taleju Temple, situated in the Durbar Square of Kathmandu, is opened and devotees throng here to get blessings from the presiding deity. On the ensuing morning, people go into their personal temples and harvest the barley crop that they had sown. A paste of sandalwood is applied to their forehead as a blessing. An important ceremony is painting a gourd with the face of a demon and then chopping it. People parade around the neighbourhood, holding swords, before the chopping of the gourd happens.

Communal Ceremonies

On the fifth morning of the fortnight, a procession, called Pachali Bhairav Jatra, is held to pay homage to Bhairava, a form of Lord Shiva. His temple, where the procession is held, is situated in the southern part of the capital of Nepal. In Khokana village, sacred dances called Sikali Jatra, are held on the through the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th noons of the fortnight. Masked dances of Bhaktapur are named Nava Durga as they are dedicated to all the nine aspects of the said deity. The deities are thought to protect the city and its people against any sort of harm. In the main courtyard of the durbar square of Patan, these performances celebrate the Ashtamatrika or the eight mother goddesses. People celebrate the slaying of the demon Mahishasura in the city, and worshipping these eight aspects is said to bring good fortune to everyone.

Goddess Manakamana is paid homage to in Bunga, about 9 km from the Nepali capital. A man rides on a hobby horse, made by fixing a horse-head, made of cushion or wood, atop a stick. On the last morning of the fortnight, Asanbhalu Dyah or Annapurna Jatra is held in Kathmandu. It is dedicated to Asanbhalu Ajima and her statue is placed on a palanquin. Accompanied by bands, the palanquin is carried around town, hoisted on the shoulders of devotees. A sword procession, known as Asan Paya, lead by the youngest person in the community, is also held. Kumha Pyakhan dances are performed on the streets and the temple courtyards while the music accompanying them is one of the six Newari seasonal tunes. A popular activity that tourists can engage with all inclusive vacation packages during Mohani is kite flying.

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