Once popular Nishan Naach is on verge extinction

Ramesh Bharati

October 7, 2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Once popular Nishan Naach is on verge extinction
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PANCHTHAR: A traditional Nishan Naach (dance) is performed every year at Panchakanya Kalikadham in Yangwarak Rural Municipality in the district on the day of Nawami of the Dashain festival.

The dance is performed with gusto with the vivid display of historical weapons in Yangwarak village.

The Nishan Naach has also a connection with the history of the unification of Nepal by late King Prithvi Narayan Shah. To be performed on the occasion of Nawami of the Bada Dashain, various kinds of historical weapons are displayed and demonstrated on the occasion.

In the fair, two kinds of nishans (symbolic weapons) are displayed. Matlav Singh Mabo (Tharpu) had received Falgunand Shree Kamphu Nishana BS 1880 and Bagdal Seling (Oyam) had received Shree Jange Nishan 1912 from the Shah.

The Nishan Naach is taken as evidence that the Limbu community had the tradition of Subhangi, Thekka, and other traditions.

A legend has it that during the Satyayuga, there was a huge lake where gods used to come there and take a bath. Devotees sacrifice animals at Kalikasthan and pray for their wishes to come true, which eventually developed into a holy site.

The Nishan Naach has been taking place at Yangwarak village for the last for 195 years, according to Bhagi Raj Ingnam, a historian and cultural expert.

The weapons displayed during Nishan Naach are Tamrapatra (a copperplate), sword, khunda, khukuri, nagara (drum), chammar (tail of a yak), gun and trident. A tradition has it that a total of 52 Subbas will receive these historic weapons in turns. Every year on the Day of Ashtami, these weapons are reregistered at Kalidhara of Tharpu before keeping them at Karbari (assistance of Subba) overnight.

The Nishan Naach is performed with much fanfare in commemoration of the historic day, say the Limbus. The ceremony is performed by demonstrating the weapons and taking them around the high altars built for the purpose.

Those who take part in the Nishan Naach undergo fasting for five days before taking part in the dance. They perform a dance around the altar making typical sounds. Nishan Naach is performed with traditional Nepali naumati music, shared historian Harka Yonghang.

Yonghang further said late Prithvi Narayan Shah presented the then Limbu leaders Nishans as evidence of loss in the war with them (that) he fought for 17 times.

Of late Nishan Naach, which earned vibrancy and popularity at one time in the part, is on the verge of extinction due to various reasons – the decade-long Maoist insurgency, foreign employment, and different perspective to look at Dashain festival.

Yonghang emphasized preserving the festival while urging the government to work towards that end. Nishan Mukhiya (chief), Nau Pagari (nine-member committee), Char Pagari (four-member committee), Karbari and a Budhauli convene the meeting of and general meeting of 16 Tharis and 52 Subbas every year as required.

The meeting will decide the modus operandi of the Nishana Naach, said Shaharnanda Yonghang, ward chair of Yangwarak Rural Municipality-4.

A legend has it that during the Satyayuga, there was a huge lake where gods used to come there and take a bath. Devotees sacrifice animals at Kalikasthan and pray for their wishes to come true, which eventually developed into a holy site.

It is believed that anyone who comes to this holy site and sacrifice animals will get their wishes fulfilled. He-buffalo and he-goat are sacrificed amid the performance of rituals at Kalikasthan.

Nowadays, there is a dearth of youths for organizing Nishan Naach, said Yonghang. Earlier, youths used to throng Kalikasthan to celebrate Nishana Naach. The shortage began to hit the Nishan Naach since the past one decade.

Nishana Naach is organized with the fund collected through offerings at Kalikasthan and the one raised at the local level.

He further demanded to include Kalikasthan in the world heritage list. He also stressed that the central government has to allocate budget for the protection of Nishan. The origin of Kalikasthan had begun even before the human beings came to exist on the planet.

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