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[Video Story] Nepal's Mahakali Dance
Umesh Shrestha (salokya)     Print Article 
Published 2006-09-20 15:47 (KST)   


Nepal is known for its cultural diversity. Its unique festivals and dances are also tourist attractions.

The Mahakali dance is a mythological folk dance drama performed by the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. It is one of the most famous mask dances of Nepal.

Mahakali is a Hindu goddess. She is Kali, a manifestation of the Divine Mother, and symbol of the female principle. Kali is usually depicted naked, blood-thirsty, and wild-haired. Records of Kali worship date back less than 2,000 years and it is widely thought by scholars that she is a survival of a Dravidian goddess.

The dance is based on Mahakali Mahalaxmi puran (a religious book). The dance tells the story of the victory over two demon brothers by the Hindu goddess Kali.

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Normally, the dance is performed once a year during the Indra Jatra festival in various areas of Kathmandu, including in front of Hanumandhoka, an old royal palace which is now a museum.

This dance requires months of formal training. Dancers are mainly from the Bhaktapur districts. The dancers dress as the three goddesses, Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, and Kumari, with a number of ghost followers and a typical musical band.

Before the dance starts, performers pray to the goddess. It is thought that they will have the power of the goddess while dancing.

I said to one of the performers after dancing, pointing to a mask carried away by another person with two hands: "It looks heavy, how did you manage it?" She simply said: "We received power from an unknown source while dancing."
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Umesh Shrestha

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