By A Staff Reporter Kathmandu, Jan. 12: Banmala, the traditional dance group of the Newar community, has started preparing this year’s Nava Durga dance, which will be performed for straight eight months visiting several culturally significant places of the Kathmandu Valley. By giving continuity to this age-old tradition, they are helping in preserving and promoting their cultural identity. Nava Durga Gana, a group of people from the Banmala community of Bhaktapur, impersonate goddess Nava Durga, Barahi, Bhairav and other gods and goddesses while performing the traditional dance. This year’s dance has begun, having performed traditional dance on the premises of Pashupatinath Temple on December 23. As many of the dancers engage in the Nawadurga dance, which typically starts from Gachhe, in Bhaktapur district, they are forced to abandon studies. Besides, since the dance demands a lot of physical stamina, several dancers have to endure chest and stomach ache, among other problems. Members of the dance troupe, known as Devgan, who are aged from eight to sixty years, go on showcasing their dancing skills for eight months in a row in several predominantly Newari towns, including Changunarayan, Sanga, Benapa, Dhulikhel, Panauti, Sankhu and 21 different places in Bhaktapur, said Narayan Prasad Banmala, a member of committee who impersonates god Bhairav. They have to dance from morning to evening by wearing masks weighing 10 to 13 kilograms with bare feet while impersonating various gods and goddesses, he added. The community feels proud that they have been managing to give continuity to Malla era’s dance despite facing financial difficulties.