After 8 yrs, Jujubhai seems to have found a successorWhen the Bisket Jatra will be observed in about two weeks, it is most likely that Jujubhai Basan Shrestha, who has been the central figure of the tongue piercing festival observed during the jatra, won’t be there to have an iron needle pierced through his tongue.
When the Bisket Jatra will be observed in about two weeks, it is most likely that Jujubhai Basan Shrestha, who has been the central figure of the tongue piercing festival observed during the jatra, won’t be there to have an iron needle pierced through his tongue.
The Bisket Jatra is observed in Bode of Bhaktapur on Baisakh 2 (April 15) and Jujubhai has been volunteering for the last eight years to walk the procession with an iron needle pierced through his tongue to keep the age-old tradition alive. The Bisket Jatra is observed to mark the Nepali New Year.
The 37-year-old, who has long been searching for his successor, seems to have found one this time.
Two candidates have shown interest to take up the job, he told the Post. “We will choose one, most probably within a week,” he said.
Both the candidates are said to be between 25 and 45 years of age.
Jujubhai announced last year that he would not be available for the job, but later he came forward to volunteer after a hectic search for his successor failed.
“I am happy that we have a new candidate now,” he said. After making himself available for eight consecutive years for the festival, Jujubhai now has a reason to hand over the baton to someone else. “There are some family obligations,” said Jujubhai. “My wife has not been keeping well for some time.”
It is believed that the tongue piercing festival of Bode started a century ago and as per the legend, it is observed to ward off evil spirits and prevent natural calamities from happening.
According to the story behind the festival, a demon used to trouble people of Bode and a man with divine powers had managed to capture the demon that was then paraded around the town with a needle pierced through his tongue.
“Since then, the festival has been celebrated in Bode; this manifests warding off evil spirits and the work of Ashaju, the man with divine powers who had captured the demon,” said Om Dhaubhadel, a culture expert.
Jujubhai is the 12th person to have volunteered for the tongue piercing festival, taking up from Buddhi Krishan Baga who served for four years. Jujubhai’s grandfather, Harka Narsingh Basan, had performed the feat for 22 times.
He teaches art at various schools in Bhaktapur.
Dhaubhadel says the willingness shown by the two candidates to succeed Jujubhai sheds light on Bode people’s keenness to keep the century-old tradition alive and preserve the culture. “This is a sign that there is cultural awareness among locals here,” he said.
Dhaubhadel, however, called for paying more attention to such volunteers who risk their lives to preserve the culture. According to him, a person who gets his tongue pierced for the festival has to organise a feast for his relatives and neighbours after the conclusion of the jatra, and this comes as extra financial burden.
“Authorities concerned need to look at all these aspects; or else a lack of volunteers in future could threaten continuity of the festival,” said Dhaubhadel.