Nepal is a multi-cultural country so, lots of cultural programs and festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Jatras are also one of them. Lots of Jatra like Indra Jatra, Rato Machhindranath Jatra, Bhoto Jatra, and a lot more Jatras are celebrated by Newari community people throughout the year. Among these Jatras, Sikhali Jatra is one of the unique and popular ones.
The resident of Khokana, Lalitpur celebrates the Sikhali festival at the time of the Hindu’s greatest festival Dashain. This festival is celebrated by the ethnic Newar of Khokana. The festival is dedicated to the god Sikhali which is also known as ‘Aajima’ or mother goddess.
When is this Jatra Celebrated?
This festival is celebrated during the greatest festival of Hindu people, Dashain. The people of Khokhana village celebrate Sikhali Jatra instead of celebrating Dashain and putting Tika and Jamara.
It usually falls on the month of Ashoj-Kartik. This festival lasts for five days. It is started on the day of Ghatasthapana and ends on the day of Fulpati.
How is this Jatra Celebrated?
This festival/Jatrais celebrated by making a tour of goddess Rudrayani in a wooden chariot which is carried through village streets, and at the end, they put it in the Sikhali temple which is located on a grassy hill just outside the village.We can see the participation of devotees from Khokana, the Newar priest wearing the white customs on the ritual.
The masked dance is done by the people wearing colorful dresses and representing the 14 gods and goddesses of Hindu. There are two kinds of dance performed on this Jatra. One is the dance which shows the searching of the devil and his end while, another one is the dance that represents Swasthani, the holy book of Hindus.
In this festival, people call their relatives, make wonderful dishes, and celebrates the festival. They celebrate this festival in the alternative form of Dashain.
On the 4th day of this Jatra, people organize a feast in their house and celebrate this festival with their family, friends, and relatives.
People believe that the village Khokhana came into existence when they built the Sikhali temple. So, they perform this festival called SikhaliJatra. A dance is performed on the last day i.e. 5th day of Jatra and people believe it is linked with the origin of the city of Khokhana which was founded by kingAmaeMalla during the 15th century.
People have a belief that the 14 gods and goddesses protect their village from misfortune and any natural calamities. This is the occasion for the farmer to enjoy the post-harvesting seasons.
Hence, SikhaliJatra is the festival that is celebrated by the peoples of Khokhana, Lalitpur. This festival has been celebrated instead of the great festivals of Hindu, Dashain. It has its different way of celebration. This festival is one of the colorful festivals of the KhokhanaNewar community.
This festival is inherited from one generation to another generation and people are trying their best to protect the festivals and make their existence.
-Article written by: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal