Province 7 folks welcome New Year with stinging nettles

Published On: April 14, 2018 03:34 AM NPT By: Khamma Khatri

 ACHHAM, April 13: Not all people within the same country celebrate  New Year  the same way. People in the Far-Western Region celebrate New Year in a unique way . Locals here celebrate the occasion by beating each other with the green stem of a stinging nettle. This practice is  known as Bisu Tihar.

This tradition is especially to be found in the hill districts of Province 7 such as Achham, Dadeldhura, Doti, Bjahang, Bajura and Baitadi. On Baisakh 1 last year (April 14 by the Western calender), Kabita BK of Mangalsen could hardly rest during the  day as her brothers-in-law kept coming up and beating her gently with a nettle stem. 

She was left with burning and itching skin the whole day.  She was going for a bath at the water tap early in the morning when one of her brothers-in-law moved a nettle stem along her body. Later, when she was busy cooking behind closed doors, another brother-in-law reached her with a nettle stem pushed in through the window. "I have many brothers-in-law to put up with every New Year," recalls Kabita, who was found defending herself with a bunch of nettle stems of her own. "I start having sleepless nights from a few days before  New Year," she said.   
Not just Kabita but most  married woman of her village have  a troublesome time on New Year. The  more the number of brothers-in-law the more the nettlesome woe. This  oldest of traditions of the Far-Western Region  is mostly observed between brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. Sometimes, the stinging nettle is soaked in water to sharpen the sting.. 

According to Janaki Rawal of Mellekh-7, it is believed that the nettle stem treatment takes care of all  skin ailments and allergies . She further informed that it is compulsory for everyone to touch a stinging nettle on this day. Those without brother-in-law or sister-in-law should themselves move a nettle stem over their bodies. 

Also on this day, women present puppet dances while the men make a puppet tiger called Bisu and make it run. In Achham and Bajura women already start  the puppet dance a week before  New Year. The puppets are later disposed of in the water. Locals also cook  Gatani Dubka, a local food item, after worshipping their ancestral deities. All this is believed to be in celebration of a Hindu legend surrounding the Indian emperor Vikarmaditya.  

It is also believed that the sun completes making a round of Earth on this day. 


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