Gatha Muga Cha: re, the beginning of the festive season

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Gatha Muga Cha: re or the Ghantakarna Chaturdashi 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 valley.

Meanwhile, in the context of Bhaktapur, it is a sign of the beginning of the festive seasons. Plus, the start of the reincarnation process of Nava Durga deities. On the same date, the Gathas ( Nava Durga mask dancers) go to the house of respected Prajapati people. To ask where could they get the dark shaded clay for mask making.

It seems like this festival has a lot of impact in Bhaktapur city more than any other city in Nepal.

PC: Ram Maka

Well, after the Bhagasti, people started to get busy with rice manor and so related agricultural works. Within that monsoon period, they overlook to play musical instruments, even at their residences too.

The city of festivals, music, and dance abruptly turns out onto 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.

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 as 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 involves in this festival, in belief to bid farewell to demons. Despite that, they follow different stories to celebrate this festival.

The myths

There is no exact explanation about the celebration of this festival in history. Somehow the Gopalrajbamsawali says that it is first mentioned during the Malla reign period.

Whether it is a myth or not but it is said that the gathas, who represents 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. That’s why the festival is called Gatha Muga Cha: re.

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 you can find that he pretends to be the one who wants nothing thus care for no one.

But you see, all the negative things including the poison, 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 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 story from the Kathmandu

The people of Kathmandu believes that the ghantakarna was a good demon, who partially help them in 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 monsoon and then bid a farewell on the day of Gathe Mangal. They would probably not bid a farewell to those spirits if they could fulfill the needs of those spirits. It’s not like that 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. Somehow, the frogs thrive away that demon by pumping him into water. That’s why the frogs are also fed rice as their reward some other day after Gatha Muga Cha: re.

The making of Ghantakarna

In this locally celebrated festival, People made out of a figure of a demon named ghantakarna. The local people make Ghantakarna using the wheat straw, bamboo, and branches of the tree. They made three legs of it.

Also, the local women prepare dolls (Katamari) to add in the demon’s figure. They believe that the dolls might have souls, that probably could be a bad one. Thus to get rid off of any kind of evil spirit, they attached it to the Ghantakarna.

PC: Ram Maka

Furthermore, they also added some paints 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.

The local beliefs and rituals

  • People made their children pass over the burning fire, where the gatha muga is burned. They execute this in the belief that their children will not get trouble by any evil powers.
  • People also wear wrought iron metal rings on the same day. And continues to wear it for another four days. So that they would be protected from evil spirits.
  • The evening puja is held out in every household of the city. Which after, they shut the doors of the house and remains in it. It was believed that the witches, on the same night became so active plus did their worship as well. So, just to avoid the meetings with them, people remain in their residence after the puja.
  • A decade ago, people also used to throw their clay utensils after cleaning up the house. But nowadays, they don’t throw it. Cause, they no more use such utensils.
  • There is also another belief that onward this day the number of mosquitoes will reduce. Thus, autumn starts.

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