The Fagu festival this year formally commenced from Sunday with the installation of the chir as per traditional rituals.
The chir is a ritual tuft of colourful cloths put on the top end of a wooden pole that is installed at Basantapur. The installation of the pole heralds the arrival of the Fagu festival, the festival of colours.
The bamboo stalk for the bamboo pole is brought from Bansghari of Bhaktapur and the wooden pole comes from a branch of the mayal tree at Guheshwari.
The poles were installed amidst a special consecration rite at Basantapur this morning. A contingent of the Nepalese Army called gurujyuko paltan [the priest platoon] presented a guard of honour on the occasion. Locals and the Nepalese Army personnel were also present at the special ceremony.
The chir is held aloft the poles symbolically with the belief that truth always wins over falsehood and deceit. The poles are pulled down after a week on the day of Fagu purnima and disposed of at local Tundikhel placing it on cow dung.
The Fagu festival is based on a religious legend mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and it honours Prahlad, the son of a demon king Hiranyakashyapu and a die-hard devotee of Bishnu, the Hindu god of protection.
As per the legend, angry at his son Prahlad’s deep devotion towards Bishnu, Hiranyakashyapu ordered his sister Holika to enter a huge fire holding Prahlad in her arms. Holika had a boon that she would not be destroyed by fire. But it so happened that, when Holika entered the fire she was burnt to death while the young boy Prahlad escaped unscathed.
The Holi Festival is celebrated in the hilly areas including the Kathmandu Valley on the full moon day in the month of Fagun [March 16 this year] and in the Tarai region a day after.