We all know pretty much about the Gai jatra, Right?
Yes, Gai Jatra, the festival of dance, music, and belief. That people, today, honored it as the most entertaining and satiric festival of the era. And, it presumably is the most fascinating and free festival, up at most. Moderately, it is more than just a festival.
The way how it connects with even strangers shows its adaptability. The passions and devotions, that imitation of the traditions, they all are its characteristics. And up all above them, it heightens ups the people with joy and, with a different kind of energy.
However, we also know that people from all over Nepal celebrate this jatra, where the Newa people reside, foremost. Yet, most of us consider it as a one-day long jatra. That’s it. Even in Bhaktapur, most people consider only the first day of jatra as jatra, which customarily held in Bhaktapur Municipality.
But, following them, more things happen within Gai jatra festive season. For example, the Bhairav Dance in Madhyapur Thimi, Peacock dance, Kawanacha Dance, Nil Barahi Dance in Bode.
Nil Barahi dance of Bode
It is said that the Nil Barahi dance was there since ancient times, as early as the city, Bode was formed. As per the legends, the deity, Nil Barahi herself appeared in front of the local denizens of the Bode. And then, she taught them the dance style which symbolizes the peace after war with demons.
As well as she bound them with some rules. Rules like, not to have food nor the water during the dance performance. Plus, not allowed to talk with anyone during the whole performance which approximately held for 12-15 hours a day for three consecutive days.
There must be an influential belief and power within them, the Dancers. That they could dance for such a long hour and that with the same devotion and energy. Whenever they start their act, a kind of energy rose in the air.
Though it is simply dance and act, it seems more spiritual because of the mask and outfit. Plus, the dancing moves of hands and feet. It looks so flawless and smooth. To became such a flawless performer, they must have practiced it a lot.
Moreover, all the 19 characterized dancers as well as the musicians who participate in this dance, all belong to the Shrestha community of the Bode. Except for the two people who play Sahanai. Alike as the Nava Durga dance, this dance is also bound with some tantric rituals and some mysterious stories.
However, being such a historic culture, it is not getting its that pace of level till today. Besides, people have even started to avoid dancing. Cause, the dancers themselves have to bear the expenses of the dance.
Plus, they have to follow the rules after being the deity. Furthermore, there are no investments nor donations, neither the help to the dancing community. I am afraid if this dance form could survive until our next generation or not.
Despite that, the auditions truly love this dance act. Sometimes, because of the crowd, even the musicians get disappear in the crowd of devotees. The Nil Barahi dance starts the day after the Gai Jatra for three consecutive days. Like other dance ceremonies, it is also completed with the cavalcade in the narrow streets of the Bode.
More about the characters of the Nil Barahi Dance
Representing a diety is not an easy task to bear. With the legacy and exaltation, a bunch of responsibilities comes beneath it. Not only the dancers but also the families of them bound with certain rules and restrictions.
However, there would be more than a hundred people involved in it including the dancers, musicians, and Jokhale. But only the dancers and their families come under restrictions and discipline.
In between the dancers too, there are characters divided into Devganas and other ganas.
Bhairava is considered as the most fearsome incarnation of Lord Shiva. Also, the main dancing character in the crew. He starts the dancing procession as well as before him, no one could leave the stage. He shows up as the lead dancer over here.
Whoever wears that dark-faded mask of Bhairav, he then would not be allowed to stay outside for night stay. Neither he can go to the catacombs. Even his own body, after the death, is not allowed to cremate on ordinary ghats.
As related to the mask, he wears black Jama with a red edge. And ornaments like Katiima: ( a kind of neck jewelry), Shinkhwa: bangles, Chansayu, and Chuela.
Barahi is one of the most powerful deities of Nepalmandal. Also, she meant to be the consort of Lord Barah, who is well known for saving the earth.
There are four numbers of Barahi in this dance procession who represents the four Barahi of the Kathmandu Valley. Including Nil Barahi, Dhumra Barahi, Bajra Barahi, and Sweta Barahi. For the dance, they wear maroon’s colored masks and red-colored Jama with a green edged border. Similarly, they have had a red-colored hair.
However, they also wear the jewelry as alike of Lord Bhairav.
Kumari is also a part of 19 dancers of the Nil Barahi dance. There are four kumaris in this dance as the Barahi, Ganesha, and Simha. Kumari also has had the same kind of ornaments as other Deva Gana does. And wears the red Jama with a green edge on it. Her mask is maroon-red.
Here, almost all of the masked dance of Nepalmandal relates to the Shiva family. That’s why the role of Ganesha could also be seen over here. There are four Ganesha in this dance procession whose names are as follows:
- Surya Binayak
- Jal Binayak
- Ashok Binayak
- Karya Binayak
The dancers wear a red-bordered black Jama. Also, they wear a white mask which seems pleasant, as well. Along with it, they wear Katiima: ( a kind of neck jewelry), Shinkhwa: bangles, Chansayu, Chuela, and silver rings. Plus, a belt over the Jama.
The four more number of Simha simply make the dance more attractive. They are generally imaged as the guardian animal of the Devi. In this dance too, they represent the appearance of four Mahalaxmi of the valley. The Mahalaxmi of Khokana, Lagankhel, Lubu, and Bode.
Since the presence of Mahalaxmi is quite furious, she is not directly engaged in the dance. Instead of her, the Simha took participate in it. Furthermore, they wear a white mask and Jama as well. Plus have a white-blonde hair. However, they also deteriorate the same sort of ornament as other Devagana does.
In this dance, there are only 2 gatekeepers, who are also called the Dwarpal. Dwarpal means gatekeepers. There is a temple of dwarpal, on the way to the Nil Barahi Temple. They don’t wear Jama like other characters. Instead, they wear trousers that of red color. They also have had a pair of Ghalanga on their foot.
Plus, a small mustache on their red-painted, slightly smiling masks. That people call the face of a great man. They even don’t wear the upper wears. But yes, in substitution, they wear a scarf like red cloth, with the sign of two crossed triangles.
Jokhale is not the dancer who gets applause after the performance. But, surely is the backbone of those dancers. Behind each dancer, a Jokkhale stands and supports them. However, they have no restrictions on eating, sitting, and talking like the dancers do.
And anyone willing to give a contribution to the dance can participate as Jokhale. It is more likely a volunteering work.
Note: The mask of Mahalaxmi is hanged there in sugarcane since she does not participate in the dance.