Mohani or mohni is an analogous festival to the biggest festival of Nepal, i.e Dashain. The difference between these two terms of festivals is very simple. Cause it’s more like calling the same festival in two different languages.
Thus, Mohani is a newari term that allocates Dashain. It sounds quite unique and of course, traditional too.
Furthermore, mohani is one of the biggest festivals of Newa people. That newa people celebrate it with a blend of joys. It is one such festival that brings happiness and holidays. Meanwhile, It also binds all the family members and relatives under one roof. Where they then have feasts, parties, card games, talks, gossips, and a lot of laughter.
Well, not only the Newa people but also the whole nation celebrates it as mentioned above. However, Bhaktapur as usual celebrates it slightly differently.
The very first thing that only Bhaktapur practice celebrates during mohani is the emergence of Nava Durga Deity. ritually, they are supposed to diminish at Bhagasti and revive at Mohani.
Mohani, on the other hand, means the starting season of celebrations. With the very first day of Mohani, people around Bhaktapur starts to go to the temples of Astamatrika. If they can’t reach there, they simply go to their nearest temples and lit diyos.
Batti dine or batti dina jane, this is what the girls called it, liting up the diyo at temples since the young girls are keen to do such things. Every evening until the day of Dashami or tika from Gatasthapana, they go for it.
This two weeks long festival starts with the Nalaswane ritual, the ritual of planting Jamara on the day of ghatasthapana. People plant the barley seeds along with paddy and corn seeds in sand mixed clay, which later grows as the Jamara.
Subsequently, above the banana’s leaves, all of the specified grains are planted and then covered by a basin. And it is offered holy water every day until the day of tika which is also worshipped twice per day, once in the morning and again in the evening.
This day also marks the opening of the festival.
While the newar of Bhaktapur is more influenced by tantrism. They believe the story of goddess Durga diminishing the demon mahishasura. Probably, after that, they have started to celebrate this festival since there is no evidence of its origin. But we are following it and somehow believe it too.
To give tribute to the goddess Durga, Bhaktapur held one of the most popular masked dances of Nepal. i.e navadurga dance.
During the mohani, all the navadurga deities are worshipped. That also consists of a kind of mela in different temples during the Navaratri. Here is the sequence of those temples.
They are in their sequence respectively. However, the Brahmayeni is again worshipped right after the Tripura Sundari and on the day of Dashami.
On the seventh day of Dashain, Fulpati, people simply gather all the weapons and musical instruments at Dashain ghar, where the jamara is grown and worshipped them,
This auspicious festival brings a kite season along with it. And a musical fiesta too. In the presence of malashree dhun, people enjoy flying the kites, playing cards, and bamboo swings. Here, malashree dhun means the instrumental music played only in the Dashain.
Additionally, newari people have gatherings and feasts like kuchhi bhwey.
And, Kuchhi bhwey means a feast where all the family members sit in a row. And have a feast with traditional newari food, samyabaji.
You may be wondering what Kuchi Bhwey exactly means. Right?
Here, the kuchhi means two mana, and mana is a traditional newari measurement equipment. And, Bhwey means the feast. Therefore, Kuchi bhwey means a feast where two manas of bitten rice to each of the family members is offered.
It also sounds scary that how a person could eat so much or why it is even offered. Well, different households have different stories about it.
Like, one says, in the meantime, people had no money and even couldn’t afford to have bitten-rice. Thus, they start a ritual like this where they can have bitten-rice as much as they want.
This feast occurs on the eighth day of the mohani. That particularly is the day of Maha Ashtami which is also called Kalarati. Kalaratri, in sense, on that night in memory of slaying mahisasur ( the buffalo demon), twenty-five buffaloes are sacrificed in front of the Taleju Temple.`
*The Taleju temple lies in the Mulchwok of Bhaktapur Durbar square and was the main family deity of Malla Kings.
It is also said that, on the same day, the giant Nyatapola temple is opened and is offered a buffalo as well. And, some people believe to not take bath on that day following the old folks which say that the person who takes bath on that day will incarnate as the buffalo. Especially that one which is sacrificed in the temple.
Believe it or not but there are a ton of stories like this in the pocket of Bhaktapurians.
The very next day of Kalaratri is the day of mahanavami. The day is more important for doing sacred rituals like worshipping and making sacred offerings to their working tools like weighing scales, looms, machinery, and vehicles.
Newa people called it syakwa tyakwa.
Also, the temple, with a tutelary deity Taleju, becomes available for common people on this day.
On the same date, khoume, a buffalo is chased from the Nava Durga temple to the Barmayani temple. People made that buffalo drunk and pours water as well as alcohol in it during the whole march.
And when it reaches there, it is tied up again and waived the very next day, before the sunrise.
*The newly made masks of Nava Durga is also displayed on the same day at Nava Durga.
Respectively, the tenth day of the lunar fortnight, Dashami is the day of blessings. In the Newa tongue, the day is called chalan where the red and orange tika with mohni ( a black colored tika) is passed on foreheads as blessings.
With that, they decorate their hair with the jamara. The plants, which was planted on the very first day of the festival. Similarly, people go to relative’s houses for feasts. Or you can say this process, nakhatya as newari people do.
Well, on the same day, locals once again travel to the Bramayeni temple. There, some devotees by letting lit a lamp on their shoulders and knees show their devotion to the incarnation of Goddess Durga.
Mohani finally ends after the two weeks of long celebrations. The last or the fifteenth day of the festival is called Kojagrat Purnima. It is a full moon day and also believed that the Goddess Laxmi, Goddess of Wealth would give blessings to those who keep awake the whole night.
Hence, Kojagrat also means the same, who is awake. Plus, till the day, people continue to go here and there and have tika, feasts and holidays.
Nevertheless, this is the most adored and joyous festival. Wherever you live, if it’s Dashain, you can’t help yourself from being apart from your family. And, not only in Bhaktapur but probably also in the whole of Nepal, each one of us surely mentions our childhood memories during Dashain.
And, that’s Dashain or the Mohani.
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