Forty-nine years old Buddhakrishna Bagam Shrestha of Bode, Bhaktapur is volunteering to get his tongue pierced for the ninth time this year as part of the Biskajatra cultural festival.
This festival is celebrated in Bode of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality every New Year on the second day of the Nepali month Baisakh.
Shrestha, who works as an ambulance driver at the Nepal Korea Maitri Municipality Hospital since long, said that it will be the last time this year he will get his tongue pierced as part of a ritual associated with the festival.
"I, who has been working for humanitarian service and preservation of art and culture, will be piercing my tongue on April 15 this year for giving continuity to the festival. It will be my last. I won't pierce my tongue from next year. It will be problem also due to my age," he explained.
According to him, the youth generation should now come forward for keeping alive this tradition. "The younger generation people should be ready to pierce their tongue to preserve this ritual. It should not be allowed to disappear. The youths should be willing to have their tongue pierced for the sake of protecting our unique culture," he added.
As part of this ritual, the person having his tongue pierced has to observe fasting three days before the festival. He should not sleep from the day of starting the fast until the tongue is pierced. Shrestha said the person should also not take salt for a week so that the piercing will be less painful.
Before piercing the tongue, the person observing the fast for this purpose has to pay homage to various gods and goddesses in the Bode area wishing that he gets strength.
The tongue piercing ritual is solemnized at the Pancho Ganesh pati (resting place). The 'nakarmi naike' of the festival pierces the tongue of the person using a 10-inch long iron needle, which is readied and dipped in mustard oil one month before.
Then the person getting his tongue pierced has to go around the town for one hour sticking out his pierced tongue with the needle and carrying the Mahadeep. The festival concludes after the person reaches Mahalaxmi temple at Bode and the needle is taken out. Then there is the feast on conclusion of the festival.
He is not happy for what he said misinterpretations and dissemination of stories and myths relating to the Neel Barahi Temple of Bode.
"The festival is specifically connected to the prestige of the Neel Barahi deity and the celebrations are the reflection of our reverence to her. The person piercing the tongue on the occasion of the festival is the Devgan (people impersonating the various deity) of Neel Barahi. But journalists quoting 'some locals' falsely disseminated the tongue-piercing event by relating to an evil spirit. This is one of the reasons discouraging youths to pierce tongue during the Biska festival," he said, seeking a media role to make the public aware of the essence of it.
Until few years back, the person piercing tongue would be responsible for managing financial cost including for feasts for the Jatra. Now, the local government assists for it.
Source: National News Agency Nepal