This year’s Janai Purnima with extra strings attached

People in Kathmandu celebrate Janai Purnima today amid the increasing risk of COVID-19 in the capital, with worshippers flocking to Pashupati to observe the festivities wearing masks. Over 600 individuals have been infected with the coronavirus in Kathmandu Valley.

On this day, devotees visit Pashupati to worship Lord Shiva and take a dip in the holy river, after which men replace the sacred threads (janai) worn across their torsos with new ones. Newa households in the Valley feast on kwati, a soup based on nine different types of sprouted beans.

The day is also celebrated as Rakshya Bandhan, and people tie red, yellow, and orange threads (doro) around their wrists to shield themselves from harm. Rakshya Bandhan is also a day when siblings celebrate their bond, with sisters tying rakhi on their brothers' wrists.

In Khokana, frogs are worshipped as the rain gods on Janai Purnima, and for the protection of crops. Food is prepared for the frog, which includes green leaves, rice, kwati, roti, meat, and cow milk. The frogs are then fed in the fields. It is believed that feeding the frogs will bring a good harvest, and ward off evil.

Photos: Bikram Rai and Hari Bhakta Dangol

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