KIRAT RAI SAKEWA & SAKELA
Sakewa / Sakela is the main festival of Kirat, which is celebrated twice a year distinguished by two names Ubhauli and Udhauli.
Sakewa “Ubhauli” – is celebrated during Baisakh Purnima (full moon day in the month of Baishak )april/may and
Sakela “Udhauli” – is celebrated during the full moon day in the month of Mangsir(november/december) .
The Sakela celebration is a prayer to Mother Nature for healthy crops and protection from natural calamities. Therefore, the festival is also known as ” Bhumi Puja “, Starting on Baisakh Purnima. Sakewa Ubhauli is celebrated for 15 days in Baisakh (April/May) marking the beginning of the farming year.
Similarly, the celebration of Sakela Udhauli during Mangsir (November/December)which is harvest season, is their way of giving thanks to nature for providing them with a good harvest.
The celebration of Sakela is connected to many myths. According to Kirat Mythology, it is said that before the marriage of Sumnima and
Paruhang , Paruhang used to live in the heavens .One day, he saw beautiful Sumnima on earth and fell in love with her. He made her a beautiful comb and sent it to Sumnima who wished to wed him.
Sakela at Nakhipot, Kathmandu Nepal
Four children were born of them after marriage. But Paruhang left Sumnima in a hut on the bank of the Dudhkoshi river and did not return for a long time. One day, Sumnima saw a creeper growing on a rock while she was in search of food for her children. She tasted the creeper and found it was full of power and happiness. She brought the creeper and made a Buti, an intoxicating religious garland, out of it. The Buti inspired everybody who saw it to speak the truth about her/his life. One day Paruhang returned suddenly. He tried to counsel with the angry Sumnima. She then gave him the Buti. This immediately made him glad and he started to tell her about what he had done. He had spent the time looking at Heaven and Earth from atop Chomolongma (Mt. Everest ). He also told her that he had meditated and visited the entire universe. Paruhang promised not to leave her again, which made Sumnima dance with joy. It is believed that her joyous dance is the ‘Sakela Dance’. And so tradition has it that young boys and girls comes to participate in Sakela in order to meet each other and find their love.
According to the Mundhum, Rai (Kirat) came out of the Khuwalung (sea or big river) meaning the Ganges river. Then followed the small river or the Saptakoshi. On their journey they first met with a duck, (hans) then the river bird (dhobi chara), Black bird (kalchuda), deer (mirga), (thar) musk deer (Kasturi) etc. They journeyed through the Arun valley, Dudh Koshi valley, Sun Koshi valley, Tama Koshi valley and finally settled down in the Bhote Koshi valley. The Nakchhong, or the leader of the Sakela, narrates this Mundhum/mundum(history). When he carries out the ritual in Sakela he tells the Mundhum/mundum (story) of how our ancestor came out of the Khuwalung and met a duck and at the same time he dances in the pattern (sili) of a duck, likewise when he talks about the Dhobi Chara he dances in the pattern of the Dhobi Chara. This is the Kirat way of relating the story (Mundhum) verbally and through acting.