अष्ट्रेलिया । संस्कृती बच्यो भने समाज बाँच्छ,सभ्यता बाँच्छ, हाम्रो पहिचान बाँच्छ भन्ने नाराको साथ अष्ट्रेलियाको एडेलेडमा भव्य रुपमा इन्द्र जात्रा कार्यक्रम सम्पन्न भएको छ । स्थानिय संघ संस्था, गुठी दक्षिण अष्ट्रेलिया तथा विभिन्न नेपाली समुदायका सहकार्यका इन्द्रजात्रा पर्व सम्पन्न भएको हो ।
अष्ट्रेलियामा इन्द्रजात्रा पर्व सम्पन्न हुनु अनौठो कुरा हो । जहाँ काठमाडौंवाट मात्र नभएर नेपालका विभिन्न जिल्लाका वसिन्दाहरुले एकै स्थानमा बस्ने इन्द्रजात्रा पर्वलाई उत्सवको साथ धुमधामसँग मनाएका हुन् ।
इन्द्रले फूलटिप्नको लागि काठमाडौं आएको र अनुमति विना नै फूल टिपेको भन्दै काठमाडौंवासीले उनलाई बाँधेर राखेको र पछि उनकी आमाले प्राथना गरेपछि मुक्त गरिएको प्रशंगलाई विभिन्न किवदन्ती अनुसार चल्दै आएको इन्द्रजात्रा अष्ट्रेलिया यसरी मनाईनुले नेपाल र नेपालीको संस्कृती प्रवर्द्दन भएको छ ।
स्वर्गको राजा इन्द्र नेपालीहरुवाट सजग रहनुपर्ने अवस्था आएको र मानिसहरुलाई सहि र सत्यको बाटोमा लैजान सिकाउंने योजात्राले नेपाली मात्र नभएर विदेशसम्म नेपालीपन पुर्याउने एउटा उत्सवको रुपमा नेपालीहरुले लिएका छन् ।
सेतो हात्ती, लाखेको नृत्य,कुमारी र रथयात्रा जात्राको मुख्य आर्कषण थिए । सो कार्यक्रममा स्वदेशी मात्र नभएर विदेशी पनि सहभागिता रहेको आयोजका गुठी अष्ट्रेलियाले बताएको छ । सो कार्यक्रममा नेपाली रिती रिवाज तथा विभिन्न प्रकारका नेपाली भोजन समेत वितरण गरेको थियो । गुठि अस्ट्रेलिया एडेलेड को मुख्य आयोजना र ग्रेस एडेलेड मुख्य प्रायोजक प्रायोजक रहेको सो कारय्क्रमलाई दुई महिना अघि देखि तयारी गरेको आयोजकले असनेपाल न्युजलाई बताए ।
मानिसहरुलाई आपसमा एकतामा लैजानको लागि यो जात्रा महत्वपूर्ण रहेको छ । मानिसको इन्द्रियलाई संयममा राख्नुपर्छ , नत्र मानिस ईन्द्रियकै वसमा परेर जीवनवाटै विमुख बन्छ भन्ने यो जात्राको मुल लक्ष्य हो ।
यस भित्र रहेको अध्यात्मिक कक्षलाई केलाउने हो भने मानिसहरु शारीरिक पोषणको लागि मात्र नभएर इन्द्रियलाई नियन्त्रण गरेर चेतनालाई अभिवृद्धी गराउनलाई जन्मेको हो र त्यो चेतनालाई अभिवृद्धी गराउन सबैजना एक भएर लाग्नुपर्छ भन्ने मान्यता यस पर्वले राख्ने गर्दछ । मानिसहरु संसारमा ब्रह्रम चेतना,मानसिक साथै आफ्नै खुशीको लागि जन्मिएका हुन् त्यको लागि इन्द्रियलाई वसमा राख्नुपर्छ इन्द्र भनेकै ईन्द्रियका प्रतिक हुन् भन्ने सन्दर्भहरु रहेका छन् ।
Why Indra jatra! Meaning and importance !
Anuj Gurung,It is the dance of a demon in the carnival of God. Durbar Square, a historic plaza in Katmandu, Nepal, facing ancient palaces and adorned by Hindu temples, is always full of eager crowds on the last day of Indra Jatra, the festival celebrating Indra, the Hindu king of heaven. In this divine stage, Lakhe the demon dances among gods and dieties relentlessly and carelessly.
On this night, there are many dances displayed, including that of 12 bhairavs (or manifestations of Lord Shiva). But the most famous dance, and the most intimidating, is the Lakhe dance. The demon, or Lakhe, dances wearing a huge red, terrifying mask with prominent, bawdy eyes. Protruding fangs, serrated teeth, and a dark red wig complete the awe-inspiring countenance of the man-eating demon as he dances and thrashes his limbs. The general belief is that the spirit of the Lakhe resides in the demonic mask, or khawpa. As the dancer puts the khawpa on, the spirit takes over the dancer’s body and dictates the movements.
Although primarily an ethnic festival of indigenous Newars, Indra Jatra draws scores of other Hindus and Buddhists to Durbar Square, to celebrate tradition and mythology. Mythology, in the form of stories and anecdotes, is an integral part of the Hindu societies like Newari communities of Nepal. The myth surrounding Lakhe (or Majipa Lakhe) has many variations but all revolve around the following plot:
A town called Majipa is haunted by flesh-eating demons (in Newari the word “Lakhe” denotes carnivorous demons). One Lakhe falls in love with a young girl in town and starts visiting the girl in human guise. But when he is captured, instead of punishing him, the king of Majipa offers him impunity and life with his lover if he promises to give up his carnivorous appetite and protect the children of Majipa.
As a part of the Lakhe dance, a teaser demon called Jhyalincha agitates Lakhe and is continuously chased by him. This is perhaps the recreation of one of the many duels Lakhe indulged in as part of the pact with the king. A different version of the myth claims that Lakhe’s dance is the punishment dictated by gods for his illicit affair with the young girl.
Regardless of the stories and speculations, the significance of this dance is unquestionable. This Newari heritage, an amalgam of Hindu, Buddhist and Newari traditions, is not just a representation of the Newari community but also a microcosm of wider Nepali celebrations of different religions and faiths.
Although this Lakhe dance takes place once a year during Indra Jatra, there are other smaller, less glamorous Lakhe dances that take place throughout the year in different Newari communities. The indigenous Newars are further divided into separate communities through caste distribution. And like all castes, Newari people were divided into their respective castes based on their occupation. It is believed that Ranjitkars Newars, whose main profession was dying clothes, were entrusted with the duty of organizing and dancing the Lakhe dance.
Every Newari community boasts its own unique Lakhe tradition. The different castes of Newar have mushroomed in various locations within and around Kathmandu, the capital city. And each of these communities has a guthi, or social council. The functions of guthis include assigning a dancer and organizing local Lakhe dances. The guthis get an annual donation from the government for organization of festivals in return of land and other traditional guthi resources donated to the government for national use. The less celebrated Lakhe dances often involve dancers roaming from house to house collecting donations for the guthi. Even though these dances are just as unique and traditional, they lack the grandiosity and flair of the Lakhe dance performed during the annual Indra Jatra.
Regardless of location and occasion, Lakhe dances are sights to behold. The red mask, a work of customary, meticulous Newari-Tibetan art, is accompanied by a matching red and gold bhoto (blouse) and full-length skirt. The dancers also tie red silk handkerchiefs around their fingers to add color and vigor to the dance. With fast hand movements, these silk handkerchiefs appear as blurs and flashes of red.
A Lakhe dance is always accompanied by traditional Newari music. The verve and violent gyrations of a Lakhe are inspired by the music created by dhime and bhushya. Dhime is the most common and significant Newari musical instrument. It’s a double-ended drum with one end wider than the other; the wider end is struck with sticks to produce sound. Bhushya is a complementary instrument, a pair of cymbals with straps to fasten around the wrists.
Among all the dances performed during Indra Jatra, it is believed that the Lakhe dance is the only dance that isn’t taught or practiced. This dance is inherited by the dancer from the spirit possessing the mask. This dance of possession is a visual feast, and the witnesses include Kumari—a young girl worshipped by Newaris as a living goddess—statues of deities brought out just for the day, and the head of state.
This indigenous dance, however, could be in jeopardy. The new year’s budget issued by the government severely cut funding for the festival and the dance. Although the government reversed its decision after protests, a debate over the festival has now sprung up in Nepali society, with the new post-royal government and Newars on opposing sides.
No matter what turn the future takes, Lakhe dance and the festival of Indra Jatra need to be protected. Not often do people get to witness a reincarnation of a dancing demon enthralling the crowd gathered in the god’s court.
Anuj Gurung is a Nepali intern at Cultural Survival.