Sakela is the biggest festival, Kirats of Nepal celebrate. Ubhauli and Udhauli are the two main festivals of Sakela. Ubhauli means upward and Udhauli is downward.
According to the Holy book of Kirat 'Mundhum', a year of 365 days is divided into two phases Ubhauli (going up) and Udhauli (going down). The birds migrates from one place from other in these period as well in old days people used to move uphill and downhill during these seasons.
Every year Ubhauli is celebrated on Baishak Sulka Purnima. It is on same day of Bhuddha purnima or Bhuddha Jayanti.
This year Sakela Ubhauli is in Baisakh 31, 2071. It is on 14th May 2014 in English calendar.
Traditionally the Kirat people used to climb up to the mountains in summer to avoid the heat and malaria (epidemic) after performing the Ubhauli rituals. During these traditional rituals they worship their ancestors and nature, seeking better wealth and crops. At the start of winter with similar rituals for Udhauli they used to move down the hill.
The Kirat have strong belief in dead ancestors and the nature. They believe ancestors would get angry when they are not properly worshipped. These rituals are practice same way these days too. However, practice or trend of climbing up and down during summer and winter has been stopped these days.
In the history of Nepal Kirats are noted to be the first rulers. King Yalamber, the Kirat King was the first King of Nepal. Kirati live mainly in two different parts of Nepal. They are called Wallo and Pallo Kirat. Wallo Kirat is the Western areas of Arun River. Pallo Kirat is the Eastern part of Arun River. Arun River is on the eastern part of Nepal. Mechi and Koshi zones of Nepal are also highly habituated with Kirat population.
Sunuwar (the people who inhabit the region westward of River Sun Koshi),Khumbu or Khambu (also known as Rai), Limbu (also known as Yakthumba or Subba) and Yakkha (also known as Dewan or Zimdar) are generally called Kirati.
The greatest events of this festival are the Sakela Ubhauli dance. A large mass of people of different ages wear traditional dresses and perform dance together in circle. Male leader known as Silimangpa and female leader called Silimangma control the dance and other follow them.
The dance style known as Silli reflects different aspects of human life and human relation with nature. This dancing ritual starts with the Chula puja. Chula is Kitchen, the source of food and life.
The main leader Nakchhong performs a ritual where a hen is sacrificed in a sacred place known as Sakela Than (place), which is usually under a sacred tree.
After the completion of the pooja, Nakchhong give signal to start the dance. He himself starts to dance to offer others to dance. Silimangpa and Silimangma guide the dance Silies according to the beat of the dhol and Jhyamta. Dhol and Jhyamta are Nepali tradition musical Instruments.
Please refer page Nepali Musical Instrument to know more about Nepali Musical Instruments.
According to Kirat Mythology Paruhang lived in Heaven. One day he saw beautiful girl named Sumnima walking in the earth and fell in love with her. He made a beautiful comb and gifted it to Sumnima. They both got married. After Sumnima gave birth to four children Paruhang left his family to live in the hut on the bank of Dudhkoshi River and did not return for a long time. One day while searching for food Sumnima found a creeper. She tasted the creeper and found it to be full of power and happiness. She then made a Buti out of it. The buti has high power. Whenever anybody put the buti on he/she used to talk only truth.
One day all of sudden Paruhang came back. He tried to console Sumnima but she did not believe him. So in order to get truth from him Sumnima asked him to put on the buti. With the help of Buti Sumnima knew that Paruhang was looking at the heaven and earth from the top of Chomolongma (Mt. Everest). She also knew that he was meditating and visited entire universe, he then promised never to leave her again. This made Sumnima very happy. To express her joy she started to dance.
The dance of Sumnima became the great Sakela Dance. To protect this tradition people dance to find their true love of their life.
The dance have steps similar to the steps of Ducks (hans), River bird (dhobi chara), Black Bird (Kalchuda), Deer (Mirga), Musk deer (kasturi mirga) and other animals.
Nakchhong, the main guy, narrates the mundhum and tells all the stories through dancing these steps and reciting how their ancestors travelled through Dudh Koshi, Sun Koshi, and Tama Koshi and finally settled in the bank of Bhote Koshi River.