Janai Purnima is a special day for Nepal, particularly for the followers of Sanatana Dharma, also called Hindus. I remember the excitement as a kid getting the sacred yellow thread on this day on the right wrist from a Brahmin Pundit with chanting of a mantra, and then offering him some money. The thread was to be worn till Laxmi Puja and then tied to the tail of a cow on that day so that the life after completing the material plane would be easier by getting help from the cow to cross the Baitarini river to go to heaven. Such was the imaginative power and life perspective instilled into us while growing up. All that is gone now.
Nepal has lost its traditional culture, mainly in the urban area among the generation growing up watching TV. But, thankfully, the rural area still has some vestige of tradition and culture protected for a large part. The good example of that is the YouTube video of the Janai Purnima festival celebration in Jumla by the rural population with much gutso and no contamination of any kind, like loud music blaring from loud speakers.
The specialty of the video is the spontaneous dances performed by children, youth, women, and elderly people. No special talent is needed to express in the rural dance, as it seems everyone can share, or jump or go wild when caught up in the power of the spiritual realm. Janai Purnima, as mentioned earlier, does connect us to the other realm, the one after our physical death. So, no wonder, the people celebrating in the village of Jumla, also known as the region where the present Khas language started, now known as Nepali, the national language.
Apart from the particularly relevant changing of thread for the Brahmins and Chhetris to keep their purity, this day is also important for another Hindu tradition of Rakshya Bandhan, popularized by Bollywood movies as the day for sisters to tie sacred thread on their brothers’ wrist, which later changed as just tying the ready-made “rakhi” and then the brothers rewarding their sisters with gifts or cash or both.
It is not easy to undermine the importance of this festival that spells purity and protection, two things that people cherish. Purity leads to a life lived well, while protection is a necessity never to be overlooked. That is the importance of such cultural celebration days that expand the vision of mortal humans and links them with a larger framework of spiritual world and family bonds.
This year, the day falls on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, people will observe fast, while on Friday, the thread will be adorn. Gaijatra this year, is also being observed on Friday. Let the spirit of Janai prevail and protect Nepal.
The writer is a graduate of Arizona State University in Political Science. He is working as a social activist and motivational speaker for students across Nepal since 2007.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Nepalisite.