Indigenous ethnic Magar Communities are culturally well off having their own prototypical cultural norms and values, festivals and religious practices which are originated through the constant gain, striving against natural and social struggle. Bhumya parva has unambiguously depicted the development process of Magar civilization from the same exertion.
Bhumya Parva, the national festival of Magar communities is delightfully marked by the ethnic Magars who hold a large majority amongst all the indigenous ethnic people of Nepal. Commencing from June 15, this festival is celebrated efficaciously for a week.
It is said that people observed the festival addressing (Naam-kaa) before receiving the word Bhumya. The meaning of the word naam and kaa in Magar Kham language is land and worshiping and purifying respectively. However, with the entrance of Aryan races in the Magarant region, naam-kaa was gradually called Bhumya. Not with understanding, naam-kaa is the whole festival whereas Bhumya is the very first day of the festival. But the message has been mistranslated and naam-kaa is less heard word compared to the word Bhumya. This is considered as the direct domination of Khas language on Magar Kham language. Though there is contradiction in the name, it is the festival of worshiping nature.
Since ages land has provided us shelter, food and life as a whole. Human beings carry out various activities which causes the destruction, filth and degradation in the quality of land. The elderly people in the community have a logic that if the nature is not adhered and purified in a timely manner, it gets pissed off and human beings encounter natural calamities such as flooding, landslide, lightening and so forth. The general public opine that with the belief of preventing such natural disasters and to please the deity of land, the tradition of this festival kicked off. People halt down the farming activities like ploughing and field work during the celebration of Bhumya Parva. It is believed that such activities only hurts the mother earth. So a rest is given and festivities marked instead.
Philosophy of Own
Though people of Magar communities are believed to be the followers of Buddhism, they are not the adherer of any crafted religion which is justified by Bhumya Parva. Actually Magars are nature worshippers and should not be classified under any other religion. Though some have embraced Buddhism and Hinduism, they are only nature lovers. Thus it seems that the social anthropologists are convinced with the idea that Magar communities are the adorer of nature. Their stand seems rational after observing the nature of Bhumya Parva. Furthermore, their veneration towards soil, stone and water resources exhibit their interconnection with nature. Having considerable analysis of ground laying observation, it is apprehensible to manifest that Magar communities are in the process of developing their civilization through their nature honoring philosophy rather than being adherer of Buddhism.
The Way Festival is Observed
The Magars in the primitive time are reported to depend upon animal husbandry for which they had to descend in the plain land in winter and ascend the high altitudes during summer along with their cattle. This was called going to Naam (plain land) and Buki (mountain). People scattered in different parts assemble and mark the day as delightful day in the first day of Nepali month Asadh. Though there is no tendency of roaming as it was in the past, people scattered in course of their occupation and business have a gathering in the mid-June.
They have a long tradition of offering sacrifice of male goat to please the nature during the festival, Bhumya. Similarly, people of different age groups again assemble in a designated area by singing and dancing to offer puja. Before sacrificing the male goat, it is taken around the whole village. The goat is pulled my Magar and Kamis on rotation basis every year. While the goat is being brought through the village, many locals gather in two way for procession as they throw away the dust and ash in the path of the male goat. By doing so, they hope that the sacrificed goat will take all the negative vibes and illness from the village.
The elderly and matured people are chosen as Namchun in curse of the festival. The meaning of Namchun in Magar Kham language is Nam means land and chun means sit or to make sit. So, they are the people who are primarily responsible for worshiping the land wishing the goodwill and prosperity of the village by preventing all forms of natural calamities. When the male goat is brought to the worshiping spot, Namchuns abandon the place and run away from the site of sacrifice. If they are unable to do so, they remain there with the eyes closed. It is also believed that Namchuns in the primitive time used to be sacrificed for the well being of humans and nature. They are honored by all the villagers with great respect and honor.
Another crucial feature of this festival is that people regardless of their age sing, dance wearing their traditional attires. The forms of dance performed during this festival is recognized as Nokobange which is performed in 22 dancing styles during the celebration of festival. All the young girls and boys along with old folks dance around in a circle. The women are in the inner circle; while the male are in the outer layer. The musicians are generally at the centre core point. The women wear beautiful flowers brought by the young boys and girls from the highland, said to be pure and sacred.
Question of Preservation and Promotion
This festival is primarily observed in the Athara Magarat region mostly in Rolpa, Rukum, and Dang has now been celebrated throughout the country. This is the traditional festival of Magar community which is the cultural representation of collective feelings of hardworking, courageous and trustworthy Magar community. The identity of any of the race and nation is associated with their language, script and culture. But unfortunately, we don’t have our script anymore. The youths of the day are gradually forgetting their own language which is sure to create the situation of extinction if timely measures are not taken. Therefore, linguistic and cultural practices are the bases for the nationality and national integrity.
The various organizations of Magar communities are collectively organizing the events during Bhumya festival even in Kathmandu as an initiation to preserve and promote it. Similarly, they have also been demanding the government to declare the festival as national festival of all Magar communities. Though the state has already declared Maghesakranti as national festival, Bhumya Parva has not been acknowledged as national festival by the state yet. (The author is the Province President of FNJ and Station Manager of Radio Jaljala) Photo credit :Ruplal Roka Magar