Kirat Udhauli Festival

Kirats celebrate Udhauli festival in Kathmandu and Eastern hill of Nepal. Different aged people of Kirat community are dancing and singing in the circle, beating of the Dhol and Jhyamta (traditional drums and cymbals), wearing their own cultural traditional dresses.

Udhauli is the greatest festival of Kirat community Rai, Limbu, Sunuwar and Yakha. Udhauli is the name of the festival and Sili is the name of traditional Kirati dance, which is performed in the festival. The term Sili means imitation of daily life and surroundings.  This festival celebrates twice a year named Ubhouli and Udhouli. Udhauli starts on full moon day of Nepali month Mangsir (December) and celebrates to further 15 days. And another Ubhauli festival held on full moon of Baisakh (May). The common name of the festival is Udhauli and Ubhauli but different Kirat communities called by different name as; Chasok Tangnam by Limbu, Chasuwa by Yakha, Pholsyadar by Sunuwar and Sakenwa or Sakela by Rai community. The Rai community has more than 30 different sub clans and linguistic groups, each of which has their distinct identities and languages. For examples sub clan, Bantawa are called Sakenwa, Chamling are called Sakela, Tulung are called Tosi, Nachhiring are called Tos and Koyo called Sakal. But overall the meaning is the same; it is a name of traditional Kirat festival where Sili dance is performed and worship takes place with three stones which symbolized the universe, ancestors and Mother Nature in the Kirat religion.

Kirat Nachhiring Tosh

Sili is the several kinds of imitation that are found in Kirati land from ancient period. Silimagapa (male) and Silimangma (female) lead the dance as choreographer.  But, they do not understand the dance through its authentic meanings. They can only understand the Sili dance as moving their body, music and as entertainments. And try to feel it’s our identity and history. The best part and attractions of the festival lies in the Sili dance. The motions, movements and directions of dances have their own meanings, which can be interpreted in different ways.

 According to Kirat  Mundhum,  a year is divided in to two phases: Ubhauli ( upwards) and Udhauli (downwards). It is accepted that name came from the migration of birds. During the start of winter season in Mangshir, the birds migrate downward towards the warmer Terrain belt, and thus it is known as Udhauli, which means Downward. Likewise, during the rise of summer season, the birds migrate upwards to the cooler Hilly region, and thus it is known as Ubhauli.

Kirats believe in Mundhum and they are the worshiper of the Mother Nature. Udhauli and Ubhauli celebration are the prayer to Mother Nature for good crops and protection from natural calamities. Therefore, the festival is also known as Bhumi Puja “worship of the land”. They celebrate Ubhauli festival in Baisakh (May) as it is the start of farming and cultivation time. It is celebrated for 15 days which starts from Baisakh Purnima (full moon of May). The celebration of Udhauli festival during the Mangshir (December) is their way of thanks giving to nature for providing them with good crops, as it is the time for harvesting.

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