The Nepalese community living in Edmonton, Canada observed annual Sithi Nakha and Bungdyah Jatra festivals amidst a special culture event at Duggan Community Hall on June 18, 2016. The cultural event was attended by people from different ethnic background including local Canadians to pay homage to Sithidyah, also known as LordKumar (the protector and the commander in-chief who killed the demon named Tarakasur); and Bungdyah, also known as Lord Rato Macchindra Nath or Avalokiteshwor (the god of rain and good harvest). The cultural event was hosted by Newa Cultural Society of Alberta (NCSA), a local Newa organization established in April 22, 2013 to practice, promote and preserve Newa culture and traditions in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
The cultural event was jointly inaugurated by Dr. Hemanta Joshi, founder President of NCSA; and Mr. Tri-Prasad Dhoubhadel, founder member of NCSA, by lighting up the Twadewas, traditional Nepali artistic oil lamps. The inauguration ceremony was followed by a brief Puja (worship) of Ganesh (the god of beginnings), Sithidyah, andBungdyah. The Puja of deities was performed by Mrs. Bejuna Joshi, senior lady of the Newa community in Edmonton. In the Puja, freshly cooked ethnic pancakes [Wo (made from black lentils) and Chataamari (made from rice flour)] and Chakusala (a special candy square made from sesame seeds and molasses for used in the festivals) were offered to the deities to commemorate the festivals. After Puja ceremony, Prasad (flower petals and Chakusala) were distributed to the participants as blessings from the deities.
In the cultural event, Dr. Hemanta Joshi highlighted on the importance of celebrating Sithi Nakha and Bungdyah Jatrafestivals in the community. According to Dr. Joshi, on the day of Sithi Nakha, Nepalese people, especially the Newa people in the Kathmandu valley, worship Sithidyah and enjoy eating six varieties of ethnic pancakes [(four types ofWo made from black lentils, green lentils, red lentils, and small peas); Chataamari made from rice flour; and Lawmarimade from rice flour and brown sugar]. According to Dr. Joshi, Sithi Nakha festival not only has cultural significance but also has environmental significance as on the festival day, people also clean major water sources such as ground wells, stone water fountains and water springs in the community. Bungdyah Jatra festival is observed annually in the Kathmandu valley between April/May to June/July. This festival is celebrated in Patan, the southern city of Kathmandu valley. This festival is the longest festival of Nepal. This festival is very unique to Newa people. During this festival, two chariots (one belong to Lord Bungdyah and one belong to Lord Chaquadyah (also known as Lord Min Nath) are pulled around the main localities of the city in stages for worship and celebrations. This festival concludes with Bhoto Jatra, a displaying of ethnic inner vest decorated with precious jewellery from the four corner of the chariot of the Bungdyah after pulling it to Jawalakhel locality. Newa people of both Hindu and Buddhist faith observe this festival with great importance and enthusiasm. According to Dr. Joshi, the chariot used for pulling Lord Bungdyah is believed to be the tallest chariots in the world. The height of the chariot of Lord Bungdyah is about 65 feet tall and it needs at least 100 people (manpower) to pull around city.
In the cultural event, Mr. Tri Prasad Dhoubhadel, spoke about the socio-economic aspects of Sithin Nakha andBungdyah Jatra festivals. He also highlighted on the legend behind observing Bungdyah Jatra festivals in the Kathmandu valley. Dr. Pawan Nyachhyon, Vice President of NCSA, reflected on his childhood memories related toBungdyah Jatra festival and pulling of chariots with friends during the festival. He also reflected on his enjoyable past moments with family members eating delicious ethnic feasts during the festivals.
In the cultural event, participants were entertained with vivid Newa songs, melody, and cultural quizzes related toSithi Nakha and Bungdyah Jatra festivals. Photos depicting Newa culture and traditions as well as activities and projects of NCSA were displayed in the event. In the beginning of the cultural event, refreshments (Wo, Chataamarisand Achar, an ethnic appetizer) were served to the participants. The cultural event was concluded with delicious ethnic potluck dinner related to the festivals.
Dr. Kishore Shrestha, Secretary of NCSA, thanked all the guests and participants for their support and cooperation in making the cultural event very enjoyable and successful. Mr. Rupendra Shrestha, Treasure of NCSA, was the MC in the cultural event.