KATHMANDU, Jan 16: Locals of Bhaktapur on Saturday performed the Nawadurga Naach, a traditional cultural dance, at the Dattatreya Temple in the city.
The eight-month-long dance, which is performed in various places inside and outside the Kathmandu Valley, kicked off on Friday (Jan 16) this year. The dance commences on Magh 2 (second week of January) every year from Suryamadhi of Bhaktapur Municipality-9 and concludes on Bhalbhal Ashtami.
The naach is exhibited at different localities on different days. The dance is performed at 21 different areas of Bhaktapur Municipality including Dattatreya, Kwathandau, Gachhey, Dachhutole, Nagpokhari, Inacho, Golmadhi, Yachhey. Likewise, as per the tradition, the dance shall be exhibited in different localities of Taumadhi, Talako, Pottery Square, Nasmana, Gahiti, Kwachhey, Tibukchhey, Sukuldhoka, Durbar Square, Khauma and Itachhey.
Also performed in Madhyapur Thimi and Changunarayan municipalities, the dance is performed in Tokha, Sanga, Kavre, Nala, Dhulikhel, Shrikhanda Pur and Khurpu outside Kathmandu.
Clad in traditional attire, the performers impersonating different gods and goddesses should perform the dance barefooted. The cultural tradition suggests that the performers should have a specific food intake and stay away from family members throughout this holy proceeding.
Navadurga Naach is understood as Jhalakyegu in Nepal Bhasa. It means to fish which is not exhibited in the naach. The viewers whistle and tease the performers (Devgadh) while they chase them in return. There is a tradition of providing offerings if Devgadh succeeds in catching the chased person. On this note, anyone who is chased and caught is considered the fish which is why the occasion is associated with catching a fish.
According to historians, the traditional dance was introduced during the era of a Bhaktapur King, Bhuwan Malla (1505-1519 A.D). The naach is believed to be introduced as an alternative to combating famine that hit Bhaktapur in 1513 A.D.