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Bode’s tongue-piercing festival begins



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By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, Apr. 13: When Buddha Krishna Baga Shrestha will pierce his tongue on April 15 during the famous tongue-piercing festival of Bode in Madhyapur Thimi, he will be doing it for the eight years in a row. The three-day fasting, which culminates in piercing the tongue, has started from Monday. In addition to taking only water, Shrestha has to stay away from women and animals, as a rule.
Shrestha, 48, had volunteered to get his tongue pierced from 2005 to 2008, but resumed the practice in 2017 after Juju Bhai Basan, who had pierced his tongue for the same eight years, stopped giving continuity to the age-old tradition. The festival was cancelled last year in light of the raging coronavirus pandemic.
He said that he was participating in the festival in an effort to preserve the dying culture and that he was shouldering the responsibility of arranging money for the festival.
Talking with The Rising Nepal, he added that since it was a team work, everybody needed to cooperate during the festive time.
His brother Krishna Chandra Baga Shrestha will pierce his tongue by a 10-inch-long iron skewer on the second day of Nepali New Year, when the festival is celebrated.
During the festival day, Shrestha is required to walk across the Bode city for more than three hours carrying the Mahadeep, made of 13 sticks of Nigalo (a type of bamboo), after getting his tongue pierced.
In the past, all expenses had to be borne by the person taking part in the festival. However, the local government has earmarked some money this time. This has greatly helped in preserving and giving continuity to the festival, said Shrestha.
It is believed that if blood drops off the tongue as the metal skewer is pierced through it, it is considered a bad omen. “I am conscious not to let the blood drip, lest it upsets the villagers,” he said.
After completing the walking part, the iron needle is taken out in front of Mahalaxmi Temple and the hole in the tongue is filled with mud from that temple. The needle is kept at Ganesh Temple’s door, located on the right side of the Nrityanath Temple.
“The pain around the hole is so excruciating that I have a hard time eating food for some days,” explained Shrestha. It is believed that King Jagajyoti Malla started the festival, which has been popular since then.
The organising committee has kept records of those who volunteered to pierce their tongues for the last 100 years.
The record shows that Harka Narsingh Shrestha was the first to get his tongue pierced. He did it for 22 straight years.