Navadurga festival, Bhaktapur

There in a festival in Bhaktapur called Madhav Narayan which celebrates one of the avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. It is famous for the sight of male devotees rolling from the center of town down to the Hanuman River to show their devotion to Vishnu. The festival was nearing its close, so I went to Bhaktapur the day before to be at the riverside early in the morning.

It turned out that the city also is in the middle of its Navadurga festival. Navadurga is a mask dance ritual/street carnival. To celebrate Navadurga, dancers representing nine demonic avatars (durgas) of the goddess Parvati run around the city. I wasn’t aware of this until I wandered across a performance in one of the smaller squares of the city. The one in the red mask is one of the durgas; I assume the other is Shiva, since this appeared to be some kind of courtship dance.

After the show, I walked around the city for a few hours, and then returned to the same neighborhood on my way to dinner. As I passed, there was a loud commotion as young men rushed Shiva back into the square. They ran up and down, and then scampered off.

I continued up the road to a large square which I hadn’t visited before—Bhaktapur is much larger than I’d realized. At the main temple, there was a group of old men were singing and playing devotional songs, so I checked them out before finding some dinner.

After my meal, I was returning to my hotel when I heard another commotion. The street parade of durgas, drums and cymbals was heading toward me.

Naturally, I followed them. The revelers wound through some alleys and eventually ended at a temple where the musicians started pounding even louder. The dancers took off their masks and went inside, where they received offerings and more tips.

Next: Madhav Narayan