Khokana's Sikali festival
While every household in Nepal is celebrating Dasain, the Newa community of the historic town of Khokhana is marking its annual Sikali Jatra. The festival lasts five days, and is derived from the traditional post-harvest celebration.
The festival is celebrated for the goddess Sikali, also known as Ajima or Rudrayani, a goddess regarded to be the protector of children. During the week-long festival, Goddess Rudrayani is carried in a wooden chariot throughout the village and rested in front of the Sikali temple in Khokana along with various religious copper vessels.
The procession is led by priests adorned in white robes along with 14 masked deities come together to perform dance. Locals believe that the goddess protects their town from misfortunes and prevents calamities. The festival could also have antecedeants in the high child mortality in Nepal before modern vaccines and medicines.
In Khokana, Sikali is a substitute for Dasain, and is organised by three different guthis: Ta-Guthi, Sala Guthi and Jhahu Guthi.
With Covid-19 pandemic on rise, guthi members have ensured all preventive measures and look towards celebrating their most important festival adhering to avoid the pandemic chaos.