KATHMANDU, DEC 21 - People belonging to the Kirat community celebrated Sakela Udhauli, a festival to mark the arrival of winter, on Tuesday.
People of Kirat descent such as the Rais, Limbus, Sunuwars and Yakhas celebrate this festival every year all across the country on the full moon day of the Nepali month of Mangsir.
Kirati people, dressed in their traditional attire, gather and perform the indigenous dance called the 'Sakela' to the beats of traditional Kirati drums.
The community in Kathmandu Valley gathered at a sports ground in Nakkhipot to mark the festival this year. The event was organised by the Kirat Rai Yayokha, Kirat Yakha Chumma, Sunuwar Sewa Sama and Kirat Yakthung Chumlung--all Kiranti organisations.
“This festival is directly linked to our cultural identity,” Nabina Rai, a young reveller, said. “As youths, it is our duty to preserve and promote our culture.”
According to Manjul Yakthumba, a Kirat culture expert, the etymological meaning of Udhauli--which is associated with birds and animals in upper parts of the hills migrating to the lower parts during the winter--is going down.
He said Udhauli is also celebrated to worship the nature and forefathers, thanking for the good harvest.
Prior to the Udhauli festival, the Kirat community celebrates Ubhauli on the full moon day of the Nepali month of Baisakh. In this festival, too, nature and ancestors are worshipped.
"While Ubhauli is a sowing festival, Udhauli is associated with the harvest,” Yakthumba said.
The Limbu community celebrates Udhauli for three days. On the first day, they worship their ancestors and nature by offering grains from the first harvest. The second day is marked to atone one's past mistakes and reconcile with enemies, while on the third day a grand feast is held where family members, friends and relatives have fun.
People from the Rai community, meanwhile, celebrate the festival for nearly a month by holding different ceremonies.
The government recognised Udhauli and Ubhauli as national festivals in 2001 and has declared national holidays on these festivals since 2008.
Besides Nepal, Kirati people living in other parts of the world, including India, UK, Hong Kong, Australia and the US, also celebrate these festivals.
Posted on: 2010-12-21 09:50