Sithi Nakha - A Festival of Gratitude To Lord Kartikeya Kumar
Newari People all over Nepal celebrate Sithi Nakha as a festival by worshiping Lord Kartikeya Kumar and cleansing the water sources.
The Newari Community celebrates Sithi Nakha as one of the biggest festivals which is also the last festival of the Newari year. It falls on the sixth day of the waxing moon in Jestha month of Nepali calendar which usually falls in late May or early June on Gregorian calendar. It is the time when the monsoon starts and people believe that this festival started from the Lichhavi era. Newari people conclude Sithi Nakha celebration by making yearly offerings to their family's god of lineage.
Sithi Nakha Celebration
Widely known as Kumar, Kartikeya Kumar is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Sithi Dyah is the name of Lord Kartikeya Kumar in Nepali Bhasa. On this day, the Newari household worships him, early in the morning and then prepares for a feast for the day and the evening.
Four days before this festival, the idol of Sithi Dya (‘Jaisidega’) in Nhu Ghah Jaisidewal Temple located in Kathmandu is poured and cleansed with ‘Pancha Mitra’ which is a mixture of milk, yogurt, homemade butter made of cow’s milk, honey, and sugar. As it falls from the idol’s structure, some take it as prasad. Then, the locals decorate the idol with ornaments and bring it to ‘Phalcha’. Many people give offerings to the idol as well.
On the evening of Sithi Nakha, the devotees carry Sithi Dya’s idol on the shoulder poles and bring it to Taleju Bhawani in Kathmandu Durbar Square without the usual musical band to declare his march.
The Newar community anywhere else celebrates it by cleaning their local water source, especially wells a day before Sithi Nakha. It can also be tube wells, stone spouts, or any other water source. Cooking lentil pancakes called ‘Woh’ in Newari and ‘Bara’ in Nepali is an unmissable thing to do to this day.
Reasons Behind Sithi Nakha’s Celebration
- Expressing Gratitude Towards Water Resource
- Importance of Conserving And Cleaning Water Resources
- To Welcome Nags Into A Cleaner Home
Expressing Gratitude Towards Water Resource
The Newars believe that every natural resource given is a blessing and should not be taken for granted. In respect of it, people clean their water resources and pray that there is no shortage of water for them. Since water helps foster crops and food, the Newars make prayers to show their gratitude towards the water source. And this celebration is also a welcome to the monsoon season that will give growth to the crops.
Importance of Conserving And Cleaning Water Resources
Back in the day, people died because of water-borne diseases caused by open defecation and an unhygienic environment. With the approach of the rainfall season, these unmanaged wastes mix up around the wells and cause contamination. When the realization hit, people started to clean their water sources and around them. That helped in preventing people from dying which taught the society about hygienic water resources.
To Welcome Nags Into A Cleaner Home
Another reason why ponds, wells, and spouts are cleaned is that there is the belief that the nags (snakes and serpents) who are the rulers of water leave their homes and go to other destinations. As the season transitions from spring to monsoon, the Newars clean the water sources to welcome them into clean homes.