The Kirat community is observing the 'Sakela Ubhauli' festival from Sunday. The 'Sakela Ubhauli' festival gives a glimpse to the agricultural life-style of Kirat people, as it falls on the beginning of the plantation season. The other main festival celebrated by Kirats is 'Sakela Udhauli' which falls during the harvesting season.
The main characteristic of this festival is the Sakela dance performed by large groups of Kirats wearing their traditional attire. People from all ages dance together in a large circle. There are male and female leaders in each circle known as Silimangpa and Silimangma respectively.
Different clans under the community like Rai, Limbu, Yakkha and Sunuwar residing in the Kathmandu valley are celebrating this festival with much excitement and fanfare today. The festival is also celebrated with much excitement in various parts of the country including Bhojpur, Khotang, Dhankuta and Dharan where the Kirat community mostly resides. The festival is also observed by Kirat community in Sikkim, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.
According to the Kirat holy book, Mundhum, a year is divided into two phases: Ubhauli (Going up) and Udhauli (Going down). It is generally accepted that the naming comes from the migration pattern of birds.
During the start of the winter season in Mangshir, the birds migrate downward toward the warmer Terrain belt, and thus this phase of the year is known as Udhauli,meaning Downward. Likewise, during the rise of the summer season, the birds migrate upward to the cooler Hilly region, and therefore this latter phase is known as Ubhauli.
The Sakela celebration is a prayer to Mother Nature for healthy crops and protection from natural calamities. Therefore, the festival is also known as "Bhumi Puja". Starting on Baisakh Purnima, Sakela Ubhauli is celebrated for 15 days in Baisakh (April/May) marking the beginning of the farming year. nepalnews.com