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The celebrations of Gunhi Punhi and Gai Jatra in Kirtipur in a local community allow visitors to take part in festivals while immersing in Newari culture: From learning to write in Ranjana Lipi, enjoying local food, roaming around the heritages and experiencing culture to honouring nature and deceased relatives – this trip offers a variety of activities. Be part of Gunhi Punhi and Gai Jatra, and join us on this incredible experience.
“Gunhi Punhi ” or “Kwati Khane Din”, another element of this experience, is a quieter affair. Celebrated among Newars, eating Kwati, a mixed soup of 9 types of sprouted beans, reminds us that after strenuous rice planting, farmers require proper nutrition to regain their energy. Kwati serves as the ideal source of nutrition for these tired farmers.
On this very day, the farming community also gives offerings to frogs in the fields to thank them for protecting their rice crops from pests which is celebrated as “Byan-ja-nake-gu”. In the evening, the locals go for a Night Heritage Walk around the Chaitya around Kirtipur to worship and pay homage to their deceased family members.
Gunhi Punhi is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Kirtipur. The festival is immediately followed by Gai Jatra which takes place in Panga, a part of the town. Gai Jatra is a very lively festival where you can watch people enjoying the colours, eccentric outfits, dances and performances. A dance – Dhe Dhe Pa Pa – is even done by locals to mock a local deity seen as a betrayer. There is Dey Guthi, the moment to speak freely and make people laugh. These spectacles are filled with laughter and a happy crowd.
Kirtipur is an enchanting Newari town which is home to a number of temples and homes with traditional Newari architecture. As you stroll through the alleyways, almost every opening will lead you to an important cultural site. Situated just 5 kilometers from Kathmandu, Kirtipur is a destination not that familiar with travellers. Learn about the tradition and culture directly from the locals and also learn to scribe an ancient Newari script “Ranjana Lipi”. You will be tasting the delicious traditional Newari meal “Samay Baji” to further make your experience exquisite.
Arrival at Kirtipur
On arrival, you will be warmly welcomed at Kirtipur Community Homestay with a traditional Sagun in the Newari culture. You will be having lunch shortly with the host family. After a brief rest, you will be going for an excursion around the town where you can know more about its history, walking through the alleys and visiting temples scattered around the community.
In the evening, you will learn to write an ancient Newari script Ranjana Lipi followed by tasting the Aila. Starting off with a small traditional welcome meal and drink, you will use bamboo pens and ink to learn several letters of the ancient script. The session will come to the final phase with writing a final word of your choice that will be framed for you as a memory. You will end this session with a Samay Baji set which has portions of a variety of Newari Dishes.
After breakfast, you can gather in the host family’s kitchen to learn to make ‘Kwati“ where “kwa” means hot and “ti”means soup, usually made of nine different beans. After all the food has been prepared, you will be going with the host to visit the fields and perform ‘Byan-ja-nake-gu’ or offering food to the frogs to show the appreciation of farmers to other creatures in nature as well. After returning, you will be having lunch with the host.
Gunhi Punhi or Janai Purnima is also celebrated as Rakshya Bandhan. Doro is a sacred thread tied on the wrist and is worn for protection and security. In other parts of Nepal, Brahmins and Chhetris change the Janai worn around their body on this day. Also, this day is popular among children where the sisters celebrate and tie Rakhi, a protective and colorful thread around their brother’s wrists.
In the evening, the locals pay homage to every chaitya in Kirtipur till midnight. This homage is believed to bless the deceased relatives. In modern terms the homage is also known as Night Heritage Walk. You will be having an early dinner and then you will be accompanied by the hosts for this sacred walk around Kirtipur and experience a different facet of this pristine town. You can participate in this walk according to your preference as it runs until midnight.
After breakfast, you will be experiencing the festivities of Gai Jatra celebrated in a unique way, where a parade will be held by the locals. The locals wear various costumes of Gods and Goddesses, the boys are dressed up as girls and everyone walks around the ancient town of Panga in their outlandish outfits. They don’t only celebrate death but also pray for harmony and peace for their family and the entire community. With changing times, the aspect of communal harmony is brought to forefront as an equally important essence of this festival. Traditional and modern music can be heard in the streets, adding a joyful and magical atmosphere with lively dance performances. You will be having lunch with the host to put a stop to your stay at Kirtipur.