INDIAN AND HIMALAYAN FOLK AND TRIBAL ARTS
THE BATTLE CELEBRATING PEACE
– REVIVING ANCIENT FORGOTTEN RITUALS.
Photos and Text courtesy Mr NABIN BARAl: http://nepalthroughthelens.blogspot.com and http://www.demotix.com/news/save-greater-himalayas
The celebration with colors, music and dance- For the last day, the characters changed costumes and joined the head lama in a dance to drive the devil out of the village.
Hundreds of years of preservation and perseverance nourished and timely practiced are the basic attributes that gives birth to a cultural phenomenon.
Sometimes the culture becomes identity and other time identity reflects the culture.
Manang, a mystical Himalayan District of Nepal, preserves itself within the largest protected area of Nepal, Annapurna Conservation Area, rated by B.B.C as one of the 12 best walks of the world! Manang Valley – indigenous people prefer to say Nyeshang Valley – is a combination of scenic grandeur and biodiversity with multicultural and multiethnic dimensions. This valley is largely occupied by Buddhists, and in some parts, Bon Po believers who worship nature as God.
Manang has its own original and unique sets of customs, cultures and festivals.
The performance of Evil.
At the last day some villagers are masked with evil .The masked evil performs against the head lama and the dancing worriers.
The spectators are chased and dispersed by the evil.
This brings more fun in the festival. The spectators again gather with lama and dancing worriers to fight against the evil.
The performance of head lama against evil.
The villagers get together and make boundary of rope.
They drive the masked evils in side the boundary of rope.
The head Lams performs with Mantras and religious songs against the evil to drive it away permanently from the village.
People believe that it maintain peace in the Village.
The metaphoric end of evil.
At the last moment lama burns a small cone structure which is made up of straw.
Pest of red powder is also mixed with the straw to represent blood. Earlier 12 virgins used to be sacrificed to the Gods at the beginning of the Bade festival. Owing to Buddhist beliefs, the practice was stopped and goats were offered instead. Later, only the tips of the ears of goats were offered. Now, because the Nyeshang community follows the peaceful middle path of the Buddha, Bade festival in future will not encourage animal sacrifice.
Manang celebrates Bade Festival once in three years, on the 1st day of the tenth month of Tibetan Calendar.
Bade has more than one expression according to the local people.
On one side, it’s a Nyeshang oral tradition and an intricate performing art, basically a play, where mother Earth is the stage, with courtyards and terraced fields forming the backdrop.
Bade is full of sounds, colors and intense drama, which tell a story of two warring brothers. On the other side, it is a performance which retells the story of a Ghale king sending his army off to battle. Both expressions meet in the purposes and objectives of the festival, which is to free the village of evil spirits, demons, enemies, diseases and natural calamities, to ensure peace, security and prosperity in the village.
In the late 1950s, King Mahendra came to the valley and, seeing the hard life of the settlers, as well as their strength and determination, declared that the people of Manang need not to pay the government tax if they wanted to import and export goods from Nepal. The people of Manang have become prosperous traders, hoteliers, and businessmen. Many have moved down from the harsh and beautiful valley in north central Nepal to Kathmandu, but, at the same time, made their culture and traditional way of life vulnerable. At present, most of the younger generations of Manang are living either in big cities of Nepal or in foreign countries for the sake of education, business and better life.
The worriers are back.
Ancient rituals of Bade were forgotten since more than two decades.
It needed practice for the worriers to play their role .So the day before the festival is set to begin, the men of Manang gather in a monastery to rehearse. The Rehearse is finished. Two warring brothers (Kings) with their army and yaks are back in the battle field.
The battle with smiles.
When the worriers reach a main square just near Buddhist Stupa, the battle festival Bade begins.
In a poetic war, the two brothers who are camped on opposite sides berate each other through the ‘Dohari’ songs – a form of traditional ballad song.
Through song and satire, they fight out their battle
In 2004, the younger generations saw Bade for the first time since the past 25 years. Two decades ago, the Bade tradition started to decline, as local people migrated to Kathmandu and took with them economic and cultural resources. The Destination Manang Campaign of 2004 reinstated it. But it was only from October 25 – 27 of 2007 that it was fully revived with the ancient rituals which were forgotten since many years. The villagers hope that by reviving the Bade festival, they can reconnect the youth with the roots of their culture, and share it through tourism.
There are two different groups. The narration begins with two brothers visiting a temple. The elder brother is offended when he finds that his younger brother has visited the temple before him. The fight or rather the play of Bade begins. In a poetic war, the two brothers who are camped on opposite sides berate each other through the ‘Dohari’ songs – a form of traditional ballad song. Through song and satire, they fight out their battle. To boost the morale of their teams, both sides also display their war skills through role-play.
Earlier 12 virgins used to be sacrificed to the Gods at the beginning of the Bade festival. Owing to Buddhist beliefs, the practice was stopped and goats were offered instead. Later, only the tips of the ears of goats were offered. Now, because the Nyeshang community follows the peaceful middle path of the Buddha, Bade festival in future will not encourage animal sacrifice.
Worriers act of attack with ancient weapon.
These weapons were locked in a small monastery since two decades.
The Destination Manang Campaign of 2004 provided these weapons to the worriers’ hand. The weapons are made up of wood. The attack is full of fun and laughter.
It reminds the ancient way of attack but in a play full manner because Bade is the battle festival celebrating peace.
A worrier sings the ‘Dohari’ songs, a form of traditional ballad song.
He was singing the song in a louse voice.
Although he was reviving the ancient rituals, the loud melody was not only expressing the story of the war but it was also requesting to new generations of Manang to take the responsibility to protect their battle festival Bade, which celebrates peace.
Battle ends with laughter and joys-Carried away in their various roles, sometimes the villagers do start a brawl that is soon controlled by the younger soldiers who stand between the supporters of the two brothers.
But actual violence does not occur.
When things start getting out of hand, villagers step in to bring things back to normal.
In facts nobody wins and no body is defeated.
At last the culture is preserved for the next time