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Kirat festival in Nepal

Kirat community celebrates Udhauli and Ubhauli festival. Different aged people of Kirat community dance and sing in the circle, beating the traditional drums and cymbals, wearing their traditional cultural dresses. 

Kirat community Rai, Limbu, Sunuwar and Yakha celebrate these festivals twice a year. Basically the traditional Kirati festival is devoted to nature Goddess and our ancester.

Udhauli starts on full moon of Nepali month Mangsir (December) and another Ubhauli festival starts on full moon of Baisakh (May), both last for 15 days.

The common name of the festival is Udhauli and Ubhauli but different Kirat community called by different name as; Chasok Tangnam by Limbu, Chasuwa by Yakha, Folsyandar by Sunuwar and Sakewa or Sakela by Rai community.

The Rai community has more than 28 different sub-clans and linguistic group, sub clan has somehow distinct and similar cultural practices among them. The festival is called by several names by different sub-clans e.g. Bantawa community says Sakewa. Similarly, it is called Sakela by Chamling, Toshi by Tulung and Tosh by Nachhiring.

Sili Dance

Sili dance is the best part and attractions of traditional Kirati festival, which is performed in Udhauli and Ubhauli. The term Sili means imitation of daily life and surroundings. Its meanings lie in the movements of bodies and how the dancers respond. Young to old aged people join in the circle and move their body in different ways like fast, slow and mixed, move forward and backward. 

Sili is the several kinds of traditional performance that are found in Kirati land from ancient period. Silimangpa (male) and Silimangma (female) are the leader of the Sili dance.  Sili can be understood through their body movement, music, singing and posture. The motions, movements and directions of dances have their own meanings, which can be interpreted in Kirati cultural practice.

Kirat Mundhum

According to Kirat Mundhum,  a year is divided into two seasons: Ubhauli ( upwards) and Udhauli (downwards). It is accepted that name came from the migration of birds. During the start of winter season in Mangsir, 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.

Furthermore, Kirats believe in Mundhum and they are the worshiper of the Mother Nature. Kirat people celebrate these Udhauli and Ubhauli festival wishing 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. The celebration of Udhauli festival in the Mangsir (December) month is the way of thanks giving to nature for good crops, as it is the time for harvesting.