Mahakali dance being rehearsed for Indra Jatra


By BINU SHRESTHA,Kathmandu, Sept. 21: The crews of Mahakali dance have started training to perform the dance on the occasion of Indra Jatra. 

The famous Indra Jatra is around the corner, and the seven crews of Mahakali dancers have started their training to perform the dance at the festival. 

Mahakali dance is registered at the Department of Archeology (DoA) as an intangible heritage of the nation. Traditionally, the dance is performed twice a year – during Indra Jatra and Gai Jatra in Bhaktapur. 

An ethnic community from Bhaktapur has come together to perform the age-old dance in an effort to preserve the intangible heritage.  

The Jyappu community of Bhaktapur is the lead performer of the street dance. The dancers are selected on the basis of their body figure and dancing skills, said Tulsi Narayan Dandeksya, the head of the Mahakali Dance Management Committee. 

A new group of 28 are added to the dance troupe. Both new and old dancers have been rehearsing the dance for the last five days, he said. 

They will perform the eight-day dance from September 28 at Hanumandhoka Durbar Square.  

“The fresher and old dancers both have got training during the time of Gai Jatra, so, they need not practice much for Indra Jatra. They will start practicing within a few days," he said.    

Surendra Dandeksya and Bijesh Dandeksya have been performing the Mahakali dance, while Hari Twanabasu, 35, has been performing Kumari dance. But this year, other new dancers are also being readied to perform Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Kumari dances. 

Both old and new dancers will perform the role of Kahalaxmi, Kumari and Mahakali dances turn by turn, he said. 

He informed that those willing to perform the dance need to join the group at the age of four to five years. This year, children aged 5-12 and those in their seventies are performing the dance. 

The fresher first needs to perform the role of Kawamcha and then Khyak, Betal, lion and lastly the Mahakali dance. Their level will be upgraded after they perform for some years in the same character, eventually becoming able to perform in the role of any character, he added.  

The colourful mask dance is performed by around 25-30 people in seven different groups which include dancers and musicians. Half of the members in each group are real dancers. 

They perform different characters like Mahalaxmi, Mahakali, Kumari, lion, peacock, jungali, kankal dances to the beat of musical instruments.

The seven dancing crews of Mahakali dance are: Kharbuja, Daibagya, Muskyakho, Galeashi Pukha Devi and Makha Phyan, Phaiju and Byanju.  

The main characters in this dance are Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Kumari, so it is also known as the Devi (goddess) dance, he said.  Purna Chitrkar, the traditional earthen mask maker of Yachhe of Bhaktapur, is repainting the 16 masks of several gods and goddesses of Mahakali dance.  

Chitrakar is the only person who can make the deity masks.  

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