Nepal is well reputed for the harmonious ethnic diversity and within that, a large variety of customs and traditions that has continued over generations. The Newar community is by far one of the most devoted among the locals when it comes to rituals and festivals as even in today’s modern world, people of all age groups actively participate in religious assembly with the same undying enthusiasm as ever.
As with a number of festivals observed in Nepal which are a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, Ghanta Karna, also known locally as Gathey Mangal is one such example of the same. The celebration accounts to the defeat of a mythical and notorious demonic creature that would horribly torment the locals. Legend has it that Gathey Mangal was highly devoted to Lord Vishnu but detested Lord Shiva and when little children taunted him with Shiva’s chants he got himself large bell earrings to blunt the sound. This led to him being named Ghanta Karna (that translates to ‘bell ears’). However, infuriated with the recites of Shiva, he resorted to torturing the people with thefts, murder and even kidnapping the little children.
As per the myth, when the demon was finally defeated, a wave of celebration spread through the neighborhood and has continued till this day. People buy and wear metallic rings on their fingers to fend off the devil from returning back and harming them again. However, different communities have their own traditional ways molded by generations of variations in celebrations of the festival. As for example, people even burn down straw figures in the marketplace replicating the age old conquest over the demonic creature.
Although the devotion runs deep among historic Newari communities, celebrations might be fading from modernized areas where Newari population is sparse. This being said, most parts of Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Asan, Basantapur etc. where Newari population still thrives more than other ethnic groups, the rituals are always as vivid as ever. Nevertheless, witnessing these cultural celebrations is always a bliss knowing that Nepalese culture is still prospering with the same enthusiasm as ever.