Gatha Muga Cha: re ( गथांमुगः चर्हे ) or the Ghantakarna Chaturdashi or Gathamuga Charhe is a regional festival, mostly celebrated within the Kathmandu Valley. However, there are different stories and reasons to celebrate Gatha Muga cha: re, even in between these three cities of the Kathmandu valley.
Meanwhile, within Bhaktapur, Gatha Muga Cha: Re showcases the sign of the beginning of the festive season. Plus, the start of the reincarnation process of Nava Durga deities. On the same date, the Nava Durga mask dancers go to the house of the respected Prajapati people to ask where exactly they could get the dark-shaded clay for mask making.
After the Bhagasti, people started to get busy with rice manor and so related agricultural work. Within that monsoon period, they overlook playing musical instruments, even at their residences.
The city of festivals, music, and dance abruptly turns out into an agro-focused city. That purely, for a whole month or even more. Thus, this day as the first festival of the year again ties everyone with their musical instruments (Dhime Baja).
The Gatha Muga Cha: re is also designated as the Kya Macha festival. From when the one-month large Lakhey Dance series also starts.
The people of Kathmandu and Lalitpur call this festival Gathe Mangal rather than Gatha Muga Cha: re. Impartially there are a lot of myths and stories related to this festival. However, most people get involved in this festival, in the belief to bid farewell to demons. Despite that, they follow different stories to celebrate this festival.
There is no exact explanation of the celebration of this festival in history. Somehow the Gopalrajbamsawali says that it was first mentioned during the period of Malla’s reign.
Whether it is a myth or not, the Gathas, who represent the Nava Durga dance ceremonies, make Shivalinga on the day of Gatha Muga Cha: re. And, worship it to get blessings for the further process of mask-making.
In another belief, the Gatha Muga or the Ghantakarna is believed as a portion of Lord Shiva. Who somehow plays the role of being a nonreligious person as Lord Shiva does. If we analyze his character, then we can find that he pretends to be the one who wants nothing and thus care for no one.
But you see, all the negative things, including the poison, and evil spirits, he holds all these things for others.
Likewise, the Ghantakarna had a lot of sympathy towards the poor people. Only he was against religious beliefs. Instead, he believed in karma and hard work. That’s why he hung up bells in his ears so that he couldn’t hear any repute of the gods.
But, at the end of his life, no one wanted to do his cremation due to his undefined religious status. Yet, because of his good deeds toward poor people, they all decided to do his cremation by collecting the fund and did so.
The people of Kathmandu believe that the Ghantakarna was a good demon, who partially help them on the rice plantation. Due to the lack of human force, they needed a supernatural force to complete their agro work. Otherwise, they would die from hunger and food scarcity.
Thus, they invite those supernatural spirits within them during the monsoon and then bid farewell on the day of Gathe Mangal. They would probably not bid farewell to those spirits if they could fulfill the needs of those spirits. It’s not like they demand so much but they were so powerful that they get often more hungry than a normal person.
Nonetheless, people couldn’t afford that. That’s why they were sent to their places, once the fieldwork settles.
According to another myth, Ghantakarna ( a demon with bells in his ears) used to muddle the life of people. Eating humans and frightening them to death were his favorite things to do. People were so terrified by him that they began to stay in their houses, just like in the lockdown.
Since there were no signs of humans crossing the crossroad, the demon did not get anything to eat. Consequently, he started to go search for humans rather than waiting for them at the crossroads. One powerful Tantrik somehow got to know about this state of that demon.
That’s why Tantric transformed himself into a frog and went to that demon. The frog-faced Tantrik told Ghantakarna that some human beings live across the river and made that demon go cross that water barrier. But, the supposed to be river turns out to be a swamp.
Ghantakarna easily fell for this trick and got into the swap which caused his death. That’s why the frogs are also fed rice as their reward some other day after Gatha Muga Cha: re.
In this locally celebrated festival, People made out of a figure of a demon named Ghantakarna. The local people make Ghantakarna using wheat straw, bamboo, and branches of the tree. They made three legs of it.
Also, the local women prepare dolls (Katamari) to add to the demon’s figure. They believe that the dolls might have souls, which probably could be a bad one. Thus to get rid of any kind of evil spirit, they attached it to the Ghantakarna.
Furthermore, they also added some paint to picturesque the image of the demon. However, even with such a terrifying combination, it looks quite eye-contagious. With a musical performance, the Gatha Muga or the Ghantakarna is brought into the streets.
After roaming a little around, it is burned down in between the streets, far more in the crossroads and somewhere near the rivers too.
Click here to read about other festivals of Bhaktapur
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