A culture that just disappeared

(Photo Credit: Nandu Shrestha)

When one speaks of tongue boring festival, it rings a bell – the tongue boring festival of Bode soon comes to mind, but there is another tongue boring festival in Thimi, which is celebrated on the evening of yanya punhi (the full moon day of September). Unfortunately, it’s just disappeared. In mid-90s, Krishna Nanicha Shrestha had his tongue bored for two times, no one at this instant seems to be engrossed to continue this tradition.

In Thimi, tongue is bored in front of Bhairab temple of Digu tole. After boring the tongue, the very person is taken around the town and sometimes even in other towns and distant places, Changu, Pashupati, for instance. Thus it becomes almost morning when they reach back home. The tongue-bored person has to give customary feast party to one and all who follows him during the circumambulation of the town. Since the people eat feast in the morning without washing their faces, they often chant a slogan, which goes like – Khwah masisen bhoe naye which means not other than eating the feast without washing the face.

Albeit there is no written substantiation regarding this tradition, there is a popular legend behind it. Thus runs the story –

Thimi was once haunted by man-eating demons. The behaviors of demons scared the living daylights out of the people. Nobody could walk in the streets even in the daytime. In the absence of farming, food scarce spread, and the people got into a panic. After many people died off, some people petitioned the royal palace to protect their lives. They said that they had been troubled by the demons and they were unable to do any work and their lives had been ruined by the demons. The king immediately summoned parliament. In discussion, Tantrik said that the demons could be punished by the charisma of lord Bhairab. So the tantrik performed the rituals.

With the divine power of lord Bhairab, the demons were caught. Some demons hid under the eaves but each of them was also caught with the help of Yanmata, explicitly a long handled torch. In front of Lord Bhairab, with permission of the king, their tongues were bored. Each of them was made to carry 108 dhani (1 dhani=2.4kg) heavy vey (flaming torch) on the shoulder, ghangala (small bells) were tied, then all were made to walk around the country. They were exiled from the settlement and made not to return again under a promise of not giving such troubles.

To remind the thing that one who does bad things for people and the country and those who distresses others will be punished in this way and dishonored in front of all and even exiled from the country, tongue boring festival was celebrated every year.

Many customs support this legend. As an illustration, Yanmata , the torch carried by the Sayamese (Sayami- the oil pressers) during walk around the town after tongue boring is the emblem to search if there are any demons left hiding under the eaves.

The dance of Bhairab and Tantrik (Jyapungahcha), who did Sadhana of Lord Bhairab is being performed during Gai Jatra, (July – August) for four days till today. This dance is used to perform annually from the royal palace of Thimi, however after the dance had been almost vanished, the Prajapatis took over the practice. Until last year (2015), the dance was akin to a tribal dance of them, Prajapatis, the potters. This dance, which is used to perform from the endowment of twenty-two rupees from the government, too was infrequent. Last year, the dance was again revived from Layekoo (palace of Thimi).

Nevertheless, the folks still believe that the rumble of bells in Lagandoh is heard till now. It is said that After the exile, the demons were taken away to Lagandoh (a place near Thimi). There is a tradition of offering food for demons once a year in Lagandoh from layakoo. It is said that during the time of performance of Bhairab Dance, the rumble of bells is produced by tremble of demons in Lagandoh.