On Shrawan Shukla Chaturdashi of the lunar calendar, a unique festival is celebrated by the Newar community. The festival has many names, but in the common tongue is known as Ghantakarna, but various Newar settlements call it with a different name. In the city of Bhaktapur, it is called Gatha Muga, whereas in Kathmandu and Lalitpur it’s called Gathe-Mangal.
Each name aspired from a different legend which shared closer bonds with certain religions. The commonly used name of Ghantakarna refers to an ancient South Asian Raksasa (demon) who according to Mary Anderson, “Was so corrupt that he vilified the gods themselves, defiled and destroyed homes and fields, roaming the land, stealing children, maiming the weak, killing and devouring his captives. His depraved sexual orgies and unspeakable excesses with his countless wives horrified the pious people”(1971,72). Locally Ghanta refers to bells whereas Karna is ears thus during the festival effigies of the demon Ghantakarna are made out of bundles of straws from the old harvest and large ears are named from either leaves or local sieves( nanglo’s).
In Bhaktapur however, the festival is known from a completely different name and has a different legend associated with it. “Gatha Muga: was a man who believed in karma, and not in the power of gods. He loved the poor people and sat at the crossroads where he took money from the rich to give to the poor. If the rich people refused to give money to him for this purpose, he would kill them. He also lived without concern about pollution. As he lay dying he hung bells on his ears, so as not to hear the gods’ names called out. After his death, as he was not associated with any religion, no one was willing to cremate him, and his body was left at a crossroad. But then people joined together to donate money for his cremation, and they called a low caste man to perform it. Many people followed this procession because he had always protected the ordinary people.” Levy,1990, p.520
Personally photographing this festival, I have to say the most elaborate festivities are done in Bhaktapur. Where the effigies of Gatha Muga at times tower higher than eight feet, with great attention to detail. Each neighborhood constructs own representation and at times, it’s like a competition for the size, complexity, and elegance. Primarily made of bundles of straws it is masked and painted with fangs. Some go even further to dress the effigies, but none miss placing bells on the ears and placing a phallus, and two circular fruits representing testicles. Many historians and scholars have stated how the festivities and its representations were used to make the people aware of sex education. Such can be seen in the tudals (struts) as well, as during that era there was no form of formal education and due to the conservative nature, parents normally didn’t pass the knowledge to their children. Thus festivals were used as a medium to make the younger generation aware of the elements of reproduction.
In the cities of Kathmandu and Lalitpur, the common legend which even I grew up associating with the festival is of how the farmers during the season of the plantation, took help from the evil spirits and demons to plant their fields. A task which took farmer days was completed by the demons in a matter of hours. The demons needed a lot of food and the farmers realized that they would not be able them throughout the year. Demons began becoming hungry and wreaked havoc, destroying houses, stealing children and destroying farms. Thus, the farmers had enough and collectively chased the ghosts down to the river and they were never seen again. During this day, I remember huge iron nails being hammered down in the main door of our old house. The years and years of nails accumulated had now become a huge hump. Thus, to symbolize the day it is believed that Gathe Mangal is celebrated.
The legends surrounding the festival of Ghatakarna might differ in various settlements but the end of these brightly painted is the same in all. It is known as Bha Kayegu which refers to processions accompanied by shouting victorious phrases. As the sun sets, these effigies are dragged, beaten and taken to the nearest river to have them burnt. Procession goers wash their faces and eyes in the river for purification and bundles of straws are burnt in the crossroads to purify it of evil spirits and demons. In some neighborhoods, a communal feast is prepared to celebrate the day.
Source : Hotel Shanker
गठां मुगः भन्नाले नेपाल भाषा अनुसार (ग + ठां ) = ग भनेको गण वा भूत र ठां भनेको ठाम बुझिन्छ । समान्य अर्थमा बुझ्ने हो भने भूतलाई ठाममा वांधी दाेबाटाेमा राखी सजाय दिएको भन्ने कुरा बुझ्न सकिन्छ तर यो कति यर्थाथ छ भन्ने कुरा भाषाविद वा संस्कृतिविदहरुले जान्ने छन्। पहिले-पहिले देखि जनजिव्रो बाट भन्दै सुन्दै आएको कुरो यहाँ केही लेख्दैछु,भूलचुक भएमा क्षेमा पाउँ।
नेपाल यानि उपत्यकामा मानिसहरू थोरै मात्र हुने र जमिनहरु धेरै हुने गर्थे । मानिसहरू आफनो जमिनमा बाली लगाउन धेरै कठिन हुने भएकोले मन्त्र साधना गरि भूतहरूलाई बोलाई बालि लगाउने काम गराईन्थ्यो । उनिहरुलाई दही च्युरा जाँड रक्सी मासुजन्य ना-ना प्रकारको खानेकुरा खुवाई विदाई गरिन्थ्यो । तर कुनै कुनै भूतहरु खानेकुरा खाने ईक्षुक भई लालचले आफ्नो ठाउँमा नफर्कि यतै कतै लुकेर बसे । तिनीहरुले मानिसहरुलाई ना-ना किसिमले दुखः दिन थाले । यहाँ ना-ना प्रकारको रोगहरु पनि आउन थाल्यो, विभिन्न किराहरू पनि लाग्न थाल्यो । यिनीहरुले अदृष्य भई मानिसहरु दुःख दिएको थाहाँ भएपछि तान्त्रिक विधिद्वारा उनीहरुलाई समाई सजाई दिई देश निकाला गरि मारेर जलाउन थालियो । यस प्रक्रियालाई सबै मानिसहरूले आफ्नो घरबाट भुत भगाउने भनी घरको प्रत्येक कुन्नाकाप्चा ,घर दैलो सबै ठाउँ सफा गर्छन् । लिपपोत गरी बेलुका बौ वायगु (भूत पन्छाउने) गर्दछन् । यसमा अर्को कथन पनि छ कि यहाँ घण्टाकर्ण नाम गरेको राक्षसले दुख दिँदै आएको र तान्त्रिक विधि द्वारा समाई टोलमा सोही राक्षसलाई डोरीले बाँडी परालले छाेपि जलाएको हो भन्ने विश्वास गरिन्छ । तर जे जस्तो भएपनि सत्यतथ्य आजसम्म पनि इतिहासविद तथा संस्कृतिविद्हरुले यो पर्वको बारे किन र कसरी मनाउँदै आएको हो भन्ने कुरामा खोजीनीति भएको देखिँदैन। आज सम्म श्रावण कृष्ण पक्षको चतुर्दशीका दिन नेवार समुदायहरुले गठां मुगः पर्व मनाउँदै आएका छन् ।
Source : Informative Nepal
The indeginous people of Kathmandu valley , ” Newa” are rich in their culture, tradition, customs, rituals, language, arts and so on. Newa are known to be the ethnic group with diverse culture and having much more celebrations.
Gathamuga, is also one of the main festival celebrated in Kathmandu valley and in every single Newa towns in Nepal. This festival is celebrated on Dillaagaa Charey, the 14th day after full moon, that is one day before no moon day during the month of ” Dillaa”, the 9th month of Nepal Sambat calander.
On this day , a dummy of bamboos or straws are made on intersections of roads and is considered to be the evil spirits, demon and ghosts. It is called as ” Gathaamuga Khyaa” and is either burnt or is dragged down to river. The houses are cleaned up in morning and different rituals are performed inside a house. The firing ritual is one of the most important one where one lights up fire to a bunch of straw and takes around every corner of house and then finally it is put into a place somewhere nearby intersections. The dummy of evil spirits are made in every locality and once its dragged out or burnt , the special ritual goes out in night again. The people put ” Bau paa ” into intersections and after that they worship their main door with a special flower called ” Gathamwo Swaa” and they nail the special three legged nail on the door. After that all the family member comes inside and then the doors are locked and it is said that it shouldn’t be opened till next morning.
According to the folklores, this celebration is actually warding off the spirits and ghosts from the town. It is often said that there used to be a special tradition during ” Akshaya Tritya ” as well to invite ghosts and spirits to the town in old days which has been completely lost in present day. The ghosts and spirits were actually invited so that they could posses human and finish the work easily. In old days, Kathmandu valley was famous for its fertile land, its grains and food. Unlike today, people had to work very hard for growing crops and grains in those days. As rice was the main crop for every people, they used to focus a lot for paddy plantation and used to give a break from every festivals for a month which is known as ” Sinhaa Jyaa”. So to make the work easier, and fast they used to invite ghosts and spirits into house and they used to posses human body and work. But, it was not possible to feed the ghosts and spirits as its said that they never get satisfied. Thus, after the paddy plantations are finished, the ghosts and spirits used to be ward off from every house which is done in this festival.
This day is also known for wearing special rings made out of copper, bronze, brass or irons. The females also put henna on their hand on this day which is known as ” Laichaa Chigu” in native language. It is believed that applying henna and wearing special rings will protect one from the effect of evil sprits and ghosts. It is also believed that people who have been learning witch crafts and black magics ends their learning officially on this day and they invite the spirits and ghosts that are ward off by people.
In present day, Gathamuga has been mispronounced as ” Gathemangal” by non natives and it is also known as called as Ghantakarna in present day.Some experts argue this as a wrong way of linking Gathamuga with GhantaKarna. Ghanta Karna is a name of demon that is in Kaashi, India and is potraited with big eyes, wearing big and heavy ear rings with bell.
In addition, Gathamuga is not only a practice to ward of spirits but also logically a day to clean and personal hygine. People would have been busy with paddy plantations, and one doesn’t get enough time to keep everything clean. Hence, the damp area of house like nooks and corners can easily get fungus all around and also, having nails also can lead to fungal infections. So, people clean up themselves by trimming their nails, bathing and taking a fire lit up with wheat-straw which gives more heat around thw corners of the house to get rid of fungus etc.
Lastly, whatever the reason may be, but this age old tradition still holds a important significance to every household of Newa people. The break time taken after Sithi nakha for plantation finally ends on this day and after two days of Gathamuga, another holy celebration of Gunlaa Dharma (गुँला धर्म) starts for a month !
1. Dillaa (दिल्ला) is the 9th month of Lunar Calendar Nepal sambat.
2. Bau Paa (बौ पाः) is a special ritual done during the night of Gathamuga. In a terracotta pot, different things including a piece of meat, piece of nail, cloth, hair of every member of family, iron nail, incense, fire light etc are put and it is finally taken to intersections.
3. Gathamwo swaa (गथाम्व स्वाँ) is a main flower used for worshipping the door on this day. It is believed that it repells spirits and ghosts.
4.Akshaya Tritiya (अक्षय तृतीया) is considered to be auspicious day when Shiva and Parvati had married.
5. Laichaa Chhigu (लैंचा छिगु) is a native word for applying henna on hand. It is also called as Mehendi by non natives.
6. Gunlaa Dharma (गुँला धर्म) is an auspicious period specially for Newa Buddhist and overall community in which people visit to different Buddhist shrines along with different musical instruments, singing the hymn and praying. A month long melaa; a festivity takes place in Swayambhu, a holy place for Buddhists.
Source : Mysterious Valley – NEPAL
उपत्यकाका नेवा: समुदाय, एक विशिष्ट पहिचान बोकेका समुदाय हुन्। आफ्नै भेष, भाषा, रितिरिवाज, परम्परा र संस्कृति बोकेका यस समुदायले हरेक औंसी तथा पुर्णिमालाई आत्मसात गरेर केही न केही पर्व मनाउने गर्दछन्। यसै पर्वहरु मध्ये एक महत्वपूर्ण पर्व हो, गथांमुग: चर्हे! हरेक वर्ष नेपाल सम्वतको ९ औं महिना दिल्लामा, दिल्लागा: चर्हेको दिन मनाइने यस पर्व प्राय: हरेक नेवा: बस्तिमा मनाइन्छ। वि.सं अनुसार हरेक वर्ष श्रावण कृष्ण चतुर्दशीको दिनमा मनाइन्छ।
यस दिन दोबाटो तथा चौबाटोमा नर्कट बाँस ( न्हाय्पँ कथि) तथा पराल वा छ्वालीको तीन खुट्टे मानव आकृती जस्तै बनाई ठड्याइन्छ।यसलाई नै गथांमुग: ख्या भन्ने गरिन्छ अर्थात् भूत भन्ने गरिन्छ। आफ्नो घरभित्र भएका सामान, औँठी तथा पुतली खेलौनाहरुलाई यसै ख्यालाई छुवाएर घर भित्र लाने चलन छ, यसो गरेमा ती सामानलाई भूतप्रेतले आफ्नो वशमा पार्न नसक्ने विस्वास गरिन्छ।यसै दिन घरलाई शुद्ध गरि, घरभरी पराल वा छ्वालीमा आगो बाली, घरभरी घुमाइ, त्यसलाई नजिकैको दोबाटो वा चौबाटोमा लागि छोड्ने चलन छ।साँझ परेपछी भने, बाटोमा ठड्याइएको गथांमुग: ख्यालाई अन्तिम पटक विधिवत पूजा गरिन्छ र त्यसलाई पिट्ने वा लात हान्ने गरिन्छ, यसपछी ठाउँ अनुसार कतै जलाइन्छ भने कतै घिसार्दै लगेर नदिमा बगाइन्छ। यसपछीको मुख्य काम भनेको `बौ तयेगु´ चलन हो। हरेक घरबाट राती पूजा गरी, माटोको कटौरामा कोइला, मासु,चामल,नङ, कपाल,फूल आदि इत्यादी हाली एउटा बत्ती बालेर जुत्ता नलगाई, नबोलिकन दोबाटो चौबाटोमा हाल्न लगिन्छ। बौ हालेर आइसकेपछी घरको मूल ढोकामा विशेष गथांमुग स्वाँ ( एक प्रकारको फूल) राखी पूजा गरिन्छ र ३ खुट्टे फलामको किल्ला ठोकेर सबै जना भित्र छिर्ने गर्दछन् र यसपछी ढोका लगाइन्छ। यसरी भूत पन्छाएर ढोका लगाइसकेपछी, भोलिपल्ट बिहानसम्म खोल्न नहुने मान्यता रहेको छ।
यो प्रचलनको बारे विभिन्न किंवदन्तीहरु रहेको पाइन्छ। देशबाट भूत पिशाचहरुलाई हटाउन मनाइने यस पर्वको सम्बन्ध रोपाइँ सँग रहेको पाइन्छ। कुनैबेला उर्वर भूमी र कृषिको लागि चिनिने उपत्यकामा रोपाइँको चटारो एकदमै हुने गर्दथ्यो। वर्षभरी खानलाई पुग्ने अन्न फलाउन मरिमेटी काम गर्ने भएकोले रोपाइँलाई सिनाज्या भनिएको हो। मानिसलाई रोपाइँको चटारोले हम्मे हम्मे पर्ने गर्दथ्यो र यसैले नै भूत प्रेतको सहायताले रोपाइँ गर्ने गरिन्थ्यो। भूतप्रेतले काम छिटो गर्ने र सघाउने हुनाले उनिहरुलाई आहवान गर्नका लागि अक्षया तृतियाको दिनमा बौ पुजा गरेर सहर तथा घरमा बोलाउने गरिन्थ्यो र रोपाइँको अविधिमा मज्जाले खान र काम गराइन्थ्यो।तर, भूतप्रेत भनेको जति खाएपनी नअघाउने र सन्तुष्ट नहुने भएकोले वर्षभरी राख्न सकिन्नथ्यो, त्यसैले उनिहरुले दु:ख दिन थालेपछी, तान्त्रिक विधिले वशमा पारी सहरबाट हटाउने, भगाउने गरिन्थ्यो। सोहि हटाउने प्रचलन र विधि नै गथांमुग: मानिन्छ।
यस दिनलाई औँठी लगाउने दिनको नामले पनि चिनिन्छ भने स्थानिय भाषामा ` अंगु चर्हे ´ पनि भनिन्छ। यस दिन गथांमुग: ख्यालाई छुवाएर तामा तथा फलामको औँठी लगाएमा भूतप्रेतले दु:ख नदिने जनविश्वास गरिन्छ। यसै गरि यस दिन नेवा: समुदायका महिलाले ` लैंचा छिगु´ भनेर मेहेन्दी लगाउने प्रचलन पनि रहेको छ। आजभोली बजारमा पाइने हेन्ना मेहेन्दी लगाएपनी परम्परागत रुपमा भने चिउरीको बोटलाई निचारी त्यसको लेप र रस लगाउने चलन छ। यसरी पूजा आजा गरि, भगाइएका निकालिएका भूतप्रेतहरुलाई ललाइफकाइ गरि, कुविद्या तथा बोक्सी विद्या सिकिरहेकाहरुले आफ्नो वशमा पार्दछन् भन्ने जनविश्वास पनि गरिन्छ।
गथांमुग: भनेको दोबाटो वा चौबाटो अथवा, हरेक टोल बस्तिमा भूत, प्रेतलाई छुट्टाएर राखेको क्षेत्र हो। विभिन्न ठाउँको नामहरुको अन्त्यमा रहेको शब्दबाट नै गथांमुग भनिएको मानिन्छ जस्तै, चिकंमुग:, नौमुग:, प्यंगथां, चाग, त्याग, सौग, आदि । हाल यस गथांमुग: ख्यालाई घण्टाकर्णको रुपमा पनि बुझ्ने गरिन्छ।गथांमुग: ख्या र घण्टाकर्ण एकै हो वा फरक हो भन्ने कुरामा मतभेद रहेको पाइन्छ तथापी, घण्टाकर्णलाई काशीको मणिकर्निकामा बस्ने ठूला आँखा भएको, अजंगको शरीर भएको, कानमा घण्टको कुण्डल लगाउने भयंकर राक्षस मानिन्छ।
Source : Mysterious Valley – NEPAL