Bhaktapur and Bhagasti
You know what, Bhaktapur sometimes really amazes you with its unbelievable fables. On one hand, it has immense numbers of stories and fantasies, lasting so many decades that wherewith deep you delve, the more you crave for it.
Knowing Bhaktapur just attracts you toward it but studying about it would amaze you.
On the other hand, Bhaktapur genuinely practices those stories through different dances, rituals, and jatras.
It must be a difficult task to do, to the continuation of narrating stories that, in the most dramatic way. Sincerely, the bhaktapurians are so fortunate that they are still living those stories. Yes, those stories of Navadurga that they have heard in their adolescence.
Also, the blessing to the rice planting fields
The Navadurga Dance somehow is the best example of this sort of story which is still exhaling in the streets of Bhaktapur. Most people have heard about it, but very few people know about it. Every year, the Navadurga, in the form of ritual, masks die on Bhagasti which is sustained by Nava Durga Gana of Bhaktapur.
(Gana represents a group who performs behind the masks of Gods and Goddesses)
As per the tradition, those masks are cremated and some portion of the ashes shipped to the waters of the Hanumante river. By which means, the Navadurga is then supposed to bless the waters that immerse the rice planting fields since the planting work officially starts after that.
In between the Sithinakha and Bhagasti
Following the blessings to the rice planting fields, people started to get busy with planting and all. They stopped singing bhajans (local religious songs ) for a certain time. And, avoid playing any musical instruments too. But before that, the locals gave their last praying to the Nava Durga.
They offer a proper puja including Nyana Samaya ( a nano portion of Samayabaji), Chatamari, and Sachung to those nine deities. Here, Sachung seems quite a unique thing to hear about.
Yes, the devotees made this stuff, especially for Navadurga puja, which is made out of the flour of fried grains. And, that indeed is a pleasure to the tongue too. Well, relating to that dish, the locals still praise navadurga as Sanchungcha dyo and the navadurga temple as Sanchungcha dekye.
Subsequently, people from all over the Bhaktapur show their presence in the Navadurga temple, at least once a year most often, in between the Sithinakha and Bhagasti.
The music of death
Sibaja is famous for the title,” the music of death”. More often, people know it as the sound of a butcher’s drum. That can be heard only in rare circumstances. Possibly, only two twice in a year. Moreover, Bhagasti is one of those rare circumstances.
The Nay caste community who are butchers, as well as a sort of musician, played this music. They played a double-headed drum ( Khi~ ) of varying shape, with a stick and a flat left hand. Also, they see Bhagasti as an urban ritual of renewal.
Thus, they join the navadurga parade to the Brahmayani. At the time, when the mask representing the divinities are cremated with Sibaja.
Representations of deities
Each year, the special mask maker made the masks of Nava Durga along with the others accompanied deities. He completes assembling them before the four weeks, preceding Dashain.
As the Navadurga consists of Brahmayeni, Maheswori, Kumari, Indrayani, Tripura Sundari, Barahi, Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, and Vaishnavi. The other deities, besides Navadurga, are Ganesha, Duma, Sima, Balkumari, Mahadev, and Sweta Bhairva. The masks are all made in Yachhen Tole.
Notwithstanding, for approximately more than 200 years, this Navadurga mask ceremony is advancing Bhaktapur as the heart of the Devi dance cycle.