Macha Marney Festival of Bhaktapur: Spiritual game with the gods

Bhaktapur, Land of Devotees, is the inhabitant of Newars who are rich in culture and traditions. Apart from beautiful temples and delicious delicacies, Bhaktapur is also famous for its festivals and Jatras. There are so many local festivals that most people are not aware of and have not even heard of. Macha Marney Festival of Bhaktapur is one of the unique festivals that most people are not aware of.

Macha Marney (Nhaa lyau) literally translates to fishing. The festival is unique and is observed usually in the last of winter. The festival occurs in 21 places of Bhaktapur like Taumadhi, Ittachen, Dattatreya, Suryamadhi, Sukuldhoka, Nasamana, Pottery Square, Durbar Square, Khauma, etc. The festival kicks off from Surymadhi , Bhaktapur and ends in Ittachhen , Bhaktapur .

In the festival, Bhairav, Mahakali Dance, Baharahi, Ganesh, Bhramhayani, Kumari, Maheshwari, Bhadrakali, Swet Barahi, Mahadev, Indrayani dances are performed. The people wear respective god’s masks and dress and dance on the streets to the musical instruments known as Khe Baja.

The festival is unique because you don’t only worship the god but you get to play a game with the god. The game is simply to hunt the fishes, as easy as that. Here, the god is the fisherman and the youngsters are the fishes. One rule of the game is that the god cannot capture the girls or women.After the game starts, the youngster starts to provoke the god by teasing and run across the streets. If the god catches the children, they twist their ears and if they catch the youngsters or elders, they demand for the money to let go.

Basically, the concept of the festival is to hunt fishes (Youngster teasing the god ) for money. Here, the money collected is used as a fund for Dance and culture preservation. The people who wear the god mask must give a huge feast to people in happiness for the opportunity that they got to wear the mask. They are also bound to fast all day and walk barefoot wearing a heavy mask. They are not allowed to take off the mask. Thus, the people who wear the mask drink a lot. On this day, local bhattis feed them for free.

The festival is also celebrated in Madhyapur Thimi , Panauti and other Newar communities as well.




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