Sangha Tradition of Itumbaha

The sangha of Itumbahal consists of Shakya and Bajracharya family’s one of the largest sangha of Kathmandu valley, is destined to perform the numerous socio-religion activities: like guthi celebration, yearly and monthly festivals, daily ritual etc.  Guthi is the socially organized people with common objectives of celebration of festivals, rituals, as well as to help unprivileged and bereaved families.


Itumbahal is one of the fully active Mahayana Buddhist Vihara (monastery), with vast Sangha, from the earliest days of its foundations in history. Unlike other Buddhist monastery, the newar Buddhist monasticism has a characteristic feature of non celibate monks, who live in their own homes near monastery, with married wife and children. The male issues of every family is ordained as monks in the monastery for a short period of four days, there after they give up celibate monkhood by disrobing, and they continue to be a member of monastic community for rest of their life. The membership of monastic community is known as sangha. The community of all the initiated members is called as sarva sangha .There are about 450 sarva sangha members from 118 families in Itumbahal. Once initiated person will automatically became a member of any other guthi or pucha, within Itumbahal, and he must fulfill the mandatory responsibilities entrusted as a Guthi member.


thyapaThayapas are the senior most top position in Itumbahal, both from religious and social point of view. Thayapas have had an overall access to all social, religious and economic affairs of vihara.

Thayapas are the short form of Thakalis, meaning ‘senior most one’ they are also known as Sthaviras or brave disciples. The tradition of Thayapas is believed to have been started by Keshchandra the founder himself, to run the affairs of vihara. There are altogether eleven Thayapas headed by main priest Muthayapa and his assistant Chakreswar. Both Muthayapa and Chakreswar are selected from family lineage with adequate qualifications like, top initiation (Dekha), seniority and perfect puja performer. Rests of the nine Thayapas are selected from the senior most brother of the descendent of nine families, provided he is ready to accept the position and act accordingly. Once selected, the official ritual process will run for about a week before enthroned on a appropriate, auspicious day as a ‘Sthavira’ of vihara. The process of enthronement of Sthaviras also known as Sthaviravisekh, particularly because they have had received the higher qualification like Kalasabhisekh, Bajrabhisekh, Ghantabhisekh, Muktabhisekh, Chatrabhisekh, Bastrabhisekh and Namabhisekh. The ten Thayapas represents the Dasa paramita, the tenfold wisdom of Buddhist teaching and Chakreswar as the central god. According to vajrayana Buddhism the eleven Thayapas represent the master of ten direction (dasadicacharya), and Chakreswar as a central one. The Thayapas have had separate seating (Asan) arrangement in the secret chamber of Agam Ghar. While performing puja they have had to sit on personal seating inside Agam.

The Thayapas are venerated and respected by all and his orders are observed by all. The Thayapas are bound by vows to protect and defend the Itumbahal and sangha physically, verbally and mindfully (kaya, vaka, chitta,). The first among the equals of Thayapas is venerated as Muthayapa.  Chakreswar, is the head of religious activities and leads all kinds of puja performance in Itumbahal, while Muthayapa is the head of sarva sangha, and he is responsible for social activities. The overall affairs of Itumbahal are carried on by that group of eleven Thayapas, mutual consultancy and discussion is necessary before taking any decision.

The current names of enthroned Thayapas are as follows:

  1. Tri Ratna Shakya (Mu thayapa)
  2. Najar Man Shakya
  3. Mimlal Bajracharya
  4. Mani Kaji Shakya
  5. Gyan Kaji Shakya
  6. Hem Purna Nanda Bajracharya (Chakreswari)
  7. Krisna Shakya
  8. Surendra Shakya
  9. Siddhi Bahadur Shakya
  10. Vacant
  11. Sanuman Shakya


Ever since the foundation of Itumbahal by Keshchandra in eleventh century, the number of guthi’s have become active in maintaining and running the day-to-day affairs of Vihara. Keshchandra had founded the trusts to look after the maintenance and smooth functioning of monastic affairs. The trusts are known as ‘Guthis’ in local terminology. It contains a group of person organized to fulfill a common objective, and combined celebration, which ultimately leads to uplift people’s living standards. Keshchandra has brought about 360 ropanis of land in the Kathmandu Valley, the income from these lands financed the activities of Itumbahal. There are several land donation, in much later years, all the donation were entrusted to the ‘Trusts’ or ‘Guthis’. The Guthis were responsible for running all kinds of socio-religious activities of Itumbahal.

Swancha Guthi

Swancha Guthi is performed every year on the 5th day of Chaitra sukla paksha, After Ba-pa the new members are allowed into Swancha guthi. The term will probably come once in a lifetime around 40 years of age. Four persons are allowed to perform puja at the Agam and to organize a feast inviting all sangha members. During the Swancha Guthi the contribution fees are collected and each and every members of sangha will be offered 5 pieces of meat chue-la equally to everybody present at the feast.  The 2nd Swancha Guthi of Ba-Sangha group is performed seperately on Luthi Punhi, the full moon day of chaitra.

Sasu Puja Guthi

The initiated members of Itumbahal families (barring a few families) according to list of initiation are given the term of organizing sasu puja guthi, saraswati is the goddess of learning. The special deity of saraswati is worshiped exclusively by families of Itumbahal, is located at just below Bijeswari.

The legends tells us that many centuries ago, an idol of lord Saraswati was lying idle at the bank of river Bishnumati near Tamsipakha. No body came to own this idol, therefore the sangha members from Itumbahal took this Idol and respectfully established a shrine near Bijeswari. Every four members are given term to organize puja and feast on the spot of Saraswatisthan, on a particular day before Pahancharey. A repoussee figure of head of lord saraswati is brought on the spot for worship. This guthi is often called as Bal saraswati Guthi. During the guthi celebration about 90% of expenditure in incurred by trust, rests have to be collected from invitees.

For unknown reasons, a group of 13 sangha members founded a separate Sarswati guthi known as Panchami Sewa guthi. A separate repoussee figure of gold coated lord Saraswati (about 2 ft tall) is brought on the spot for worship. This figure has been donated by group of sangha members in NS 1015 (BS 1952). A couple of Sangha members within this Panchami Sewa guthi are entrusted every year to organize this guthi on the same location of Saraswatisthan. Every four members are given term to organize puja and feast on the spot of saraswatisthan on a particular day before Pahancharey. About 90% expenditure will be given by guthi, rest have to be collected from invitees.

Salan pa Guthi

Every year during the sacred month of Gunla, the traditional display of gods and goddess, secret manuscripts, stupas and other treasures are performed. It is also known as Bahi Dya Bowyegu. The manpower to organize such display is fulfilled by every two members from,  ‘Sarvasangha’ and two members from ‘Thayapa’, Altogether four person are given responsibilities to organize such display and take responsibilities in organizing. Earlier Guru Bajracharya from some of the Viharas are invited to study Pancharakshya and dine with sarvasangha. A muri of rice is given to each of the four guthi organizers in charity. However, this tradition has been discontinued now.

Beside all these three guthis, there are other guthis where the head of the family must become a member. Si Guti and Tuta Guthi are two of those guthis.


Si Guthi is the guthi of families, exclusively for helping bereaved family of guthiyar. When any death occurs in a family, this Guthi will become active, right from the announcement of death to all member families. Every responsibilities of running this Guthi goes to the four palas appointed serially according to the list of members.

The responsibilities of Palas starts with informing death to all “member family” including awarding responsibilities, such as carrying dead body, carrying pot of funeral fire, carrying husk (straw), shopping for all necessary items, arrangement of funeral pyre, accompany eldest son of the deceased family to light funeral pyre, to oversee the burning of dead body, etc.          Soon after the announcement of death the Palas will check the list of attendance, checking attendance will be carried on for five times right from the announcement of death until the end of funeral pyre. Those who did not attend the funeral will face monetary fine. The amount of fine will double if funeral take place during the night.

Every year on the lain charey, which occurs specially during month of magh, the yearly term of Palas will end and handover to new Palas, according to list of members, on this day all the fines including membership fees will be collected; as usual a grand feast and puja is performed, the tradition demands equal share of beaten rice and meat varieties. Sweets like Patincha mari and Pahan Mari is distributed from the families of those who have newly married and from the families where death has occurred, in the past year.

Si-Gu is one of the strict guthi, where age old tradition will be followed, any one who tries to make a slight variation on the age old tradition is objected, and heavy fines will be slapped if some one dares it.

In Itumbahal there is two separate Si-Guthi ,old one and new one. The old Si-Gu has a few family members of about 16 families, and new Si-Gu has about 85 families. There is two separate yearly days of two Si-Gu, for old it is on the days of Dasmi of Chaitra Krishnapaksya, the new guthi’s yearly day is on the Lain Charey in month of Magh. No Bajracharya members, (barring Nuche Guruju) are the member of new si-guthi, most of the Gubhaju’s are either in old guthi or in outside guthis.  The main deity of old Si-Gu is De-Puja Agam Ghar. However, the new Si-Gu members worship Kang-Ajima as a main deity of Si-Gu.

Tuta Guthi

Every year on the sacred month of Gunla the Guthiyar members will encircle the Vihara complex chanting hymens also known as Tuta-bone-gu. Daily attendance will be recorded and those who absent are fined. The daily puja offerings to Kwapadya, is brought by guthiyar members according to serial listing. Every members of Si- gu are members of Tuta-Guthi. Accordingly, there are two Tuta-Guthi old one and the new one. The old guthi members chant hymens of prayers to Kwapadya early in the morning; the new members will do the same little later. There are two separate yearly dates for old and new guthi. The old guthi date falls on 8th day after the end of Gun-la. The new guthi date falls on 10th day after the end of Gun-la. As usual at the gathering, the puja is offered at Agam Ghar, chanting ‘charya geet‘ and sharing the prasada among member. Distribution of ‘Pandran’ (Panchan dan) is also performed followed by grand feast.

Gunla Bajan Khala

Itumbahal have had its own band of traditional music performers, familiar, with the name of ‘Keshchandra Gunla Bajan Khala’, Gunla Bajan is a traditional band of music, played during the month of Gun-la comprising drum, cymbals and tingsya. On the sacred month of Gun-la, the people from Itumbahal will go to Swayambhu every morning with the band of music performers. For the whole month, the members of Bajan khala return from Swayambhu with Gunla Bajan, visits different parts of town, before ending at the Itumbahal. On the first day of second half of Gun-la (sa-paru), the sangha members of Itumbahal travel around the city’s Buddhist viharas to observe gods on display. The visit is also known as Bahi–dya-Swa–wanegu or travel around, to see ‘Gods on display.’ The membership of Gunla Bajan is open to all sarva sangha, neighbors and friends of Itumbahal. There is no membership fee, but one has to make some contributions and donations to run the Bajan khala. Any member of sarva sangha can invite ‘Gunla bajan’ performers, to celebrate the special occasion like, Chudakarma, Janku etc. provided the invitees pay some fees.

Lain ken Khala (Samyek Guthi)

Every 12 years on the 1st day of Magh, Samyek Mahadan Parwa is held at the Bhuikhel (Swayambhu). On this particular day all the Dipankar Buddhas from Kathmandu valley are invited at Bhuikhel and offer samyek mahadan even King makes a visit on this occasion. For the ‘Samyek Mahadan,’ all the Buddhist communities of the valley are given some duties to make a particular offering. The duty of Itumbahal sangha is to offer Lainken (Fermented raddish).

The Bhuikhel Samyek is jointly organized by sangha members of “Itumbahal, Lagan Bahal and Watu Bahal”, for this a Guthi has been formed to organize samyek on every 12 years. The volunteers from Itumbahal Sarva Sangha, who were organized for this community service is also called as Lain ken khala.

According to inscription found in Itumbahal, the samyek Guthi has been founded by Gudochandra, a resident of Taranani. The inscription of NS.714 reveals that Gudochandra has organized a samyek guthi accordingly he had donated several items to guthi. Erstwhile, the samyek festival has been organized every four years at “Burankhel” 500 meter west of Itumbahal. After the invasion of Prithivinarayan Saha, the samyek has been celebrated every 12 years, jointly with the Watu Bahal and Lagan Bahal at Bhuikhel near Swayambhu.

Bunga dya La-chayagu Guthi

The Bajracharyas of Itumbahal are especially dedicated to bring the water of well in Itumbahal, (where Jwala Nag resides) at the bathing ceremony of Bungadya. A guthi of 3 guthiyars has been formed with these responsibilities. The very highly ceremonial event of this Guthi however, has been recently discontinued, mainly due to the internal feud among Guthiyars.

According to the Sanu Guruju (One of the Guthi member) of Itumbahal, the ‘Nagraja’ in Itumbahal has been brought by the goddess White Tara of Itumbahal who came to Nepal from Tibet. Therefore to bring, water to Bungadya is an act of devotion of Nagraja to the Bungadya. The ceremony starts with worshipping the five clay pots (nancha), containing panchamrit, butter, honey, cow’s milk, sakha (sugarcane malt) and water from well, in addition to  5 pots full of water from well. It will be carried ceremonially upto Bungadya’s Mahasnan at Ta-Bahal, Lagankhel and mixed with the silver pots at the place of Mahashan. After the Mahasnan, the Panjus will give them ceremonial water, Tika and Prasada. The team will have some Samay Baji, at Pulchowk while retuning home. The Mahasnan Jal will be distributed among guthi members.

The ceremonial Mahasnan parwa which might have been continued right from the beginning of Bungadya’s jatra, in Lechavi years, however, now it is facing an imminent end of ceremony, mainly due to the internal feud among guthiyars.

Yearly festivals of Itumbaha

Many of the festivals of Itumbahal are now abandoned. Lack of resources to finance such festivals, make it hard to continue celebrations. The ‘Guthi lands’ a prime source of finance to invest in such festivals are sold off, only a few festivals are observed now a days.

Gun-la festivals

Gun–la is an important festival time in Itumbahal. Gun-la starts from the first day srawan sukla and ends with the first day of bhadra sukla. The month long festival is an important event with respect to the fact that many social, cultural and religious exchange occurs during this month.

The youths of Itumbahal would pay a daily excursion to Swayambhu, with its own musical band of performers for a whole month of Gun-la. At Swayambhu the members of Itumbahal take a tour around hill top, chanting Buddhist hymens. The group comes down from Swayambhu hill top with band of music (Gunla bajan) and visit different parts of the city before concluding at Itumbahal shrine, some volunteers would offer tea and bread to those group members. The rest of the guthi members who were unable to visit Swayambhu would gather at Itumbahal and chant Buddhist hymens, take a tour around the Itumbahal complex. The two groups of guthi members travel around the complex one earlier at 6 AM another group at 8 AM. The daily puja offering to Kwapadya will be met by members according to their names in the serial list; monetary fine will be levied to those who do not show up.

Another important event of month long ‘Gun-la’ festivals is the display of ‘Aaju Dya’, and valuable treasures of Itumbahal. The statue of founder of Itumbahal “Keshchandra Aaju Dya” is brought for display for next 15 days i.e. until the 7th day, of bhadra krisna pakshya. On the 13th day of Gunla the valuable treasures of Itumbahal is displayed, which includes, the sacred books of Pragyaparmita, (written in gold and silver) and Pancharakshya books, wooden statues, stupas, water spouts and  ‘pau-vhas’,(the scroll painting). Two Thayapas and two members from sarva sangha will stand guard for entire 15 days of display. This is also known as “Swancha Guthi pa”.

On the 14th day of Gun-la a ritualistic homa is performed at the entrance of shrine, in contemplation of smooth and flawless observance of Gun-la festivals. With homa the God of fire (Agni-devta) is provoked, to ensure the protection of wealth and health of Itumbahal monastery.

Earlier, the Bajracharya’s from different Buddhist monasteries of Kathamandu were called upon to recite the pancharakshya and Pragyaparmita Texts, for about a week. The ceremony will be concluded after a grand feast, by the end of the week. However, this ceremony is now abandoned about 20 years ago, for lack of finance and internal disputes with Bajracharya priests.

The display of treasures of Itumbahal is concluded at the 2nd day of Bhadra Krisna, when the living Goddess Kumari makes a visit into Itumbahal to observe the display of valuable treasures. Next day everything displayed on gun-la is packed off into the store room except ‘Aaju Dya’. Every year only a few and fewer items were put on display for lack of security and fear of theft. On the 7th day of Bhadra Krisna the ‘Aaju Dya’ is also shifted into store room.

On the first day of ‘bhadra krisna pakshya’, or “Sa-Paru”, the Itumbahal community will organize a joint visit into the different parts of the city’s Vihara where the treasures were displayed. The procession starts around 2 PM with the band of ‘Gunla-bajan’ performers, after visiting different nook and corners of the city, it will end up in Itumbahal with a grand feast.

On the 13th day to Bhadra Krisna the festival of Panchadan is celebrated. All the Thayapas and sangha members are seated according to their seniority, rice grain and money is offered to all those present at the ceremony. A special hymen ‘Dangatha’ is recited by seniors, who proclaim ‘thanks and best wishes’ to those who had offered donations. At the end of the day a Chakreshwar and Thayapas will travel around the Itumbahal area (phu-Bare) collecting all the residue of Panchandan around the area.

The Gun-la festival ends on the first day of Bhadra Sukla, in the afternoon of that day the sangha members will visit Swayambhu with band of gun-la bajan music performers. The members would recite ‘strotra’ and travel around the Swayambhu complex. A grand feast at Itumbahal (paru Bhoe) will conclude the month long Gun-la festival.

Guthi gathering in Bhadra

On the 8th and 10th day of Bhadra Sukla, Guthi gathering “Tuta-gu” is performed at Itumbahal. It’s a special gathering of sangha members who have recited, chanting ‘strotra’ every morning during the month of ‘Gun-la’. There are two special Guthi-gatherings among the two groups of sangha members. The old group of sangha members celebrates Guthi on 8th day and the new sangha members, the large one, celebrate it on 10th day of Bhadra sukla. On that auspicious day a special puja at Agam will be followed by a grand feast. The fines will be collected from those who were absent during recitation of ‘strotra’ and the mandatory membership fees is also collected to fulfill the expenditure incurred. The members of Si-Gu, are also the members of ‘Tuta Gu’ therefore, all Si-Gu members are invited in this Guthi celebration.

Guthi gathering in Magh

On the 13th day of magh krishna pakshyaLain charey”. The annual guthi gathering (Si -Guthi) is organised. The list of those who died last year is prepared, expenditures incurred, the fines and membership fees are collected. A puja at Kankeswari and Agam is performed; as usual a grand feast in the evening will conclude the entire Guthi gatherings.

Festival in Phalgun

  1. From the 5th to 10th day of Chaitra Krisna, immediately after Holi purney, it is believed to be the birthday of founder Keshchandra ‘Aaju’ or perhaps, the foundation of Itumbahal itself. A yearly festival of Ma-bu Guthi, once observed in Itumbahal has been discontinued now.
  2. On the night of full moon day of Phalgun while the Hoil festival is observed around the city, in Itumbahal special preparation is made for feeding Gurumapa. A mun of rice and a meat of a buffalo is cooked and carried upto Tudikhel (non-stop) for feeding Gurumapa. The enthusiastic youths from neighboring Itumbahal takes part in the rice feeding ceremony. The sprit of Gurumapa is still believed to be alive at Tudikhel, and eat those rice and meat offered to him. A special guthi is active to organize this ceremony. The Jyapus of Kilagal and sub cast of ‘Pa-mays’ are responsible for feeding Gurumapa. On the next day, the Thayapas are invited for launch party, immediately after the Homa and puja at Agam of ‘Dev-dya’, which has been discontinued currently. Indeed financial problem is making difficulty in the smooth celebration of this event.

Festivals in Chaitra

On the fifth day of Chaitra Sukla “The Swancha Guthi’ is celebrated, every four person according to seniority of Itumbahal sangha are called upon to celebrate the Guthi. A simple puja at Agam and feast in the evening is observed as usual. Every initiated person are invited to join in the feast, five pieces of ‘Choe la- meat’ is distributed among the every initiated persons of Itumbahal.

Pahan charey festival and arrival of Lord Kankeswari

On the 13th day to chaitra krisna paskshya, the ‘Pahan charey’ festival is celebrated around the city. This festival is celebrated for about a week by the ‘Yen –mi’ or Kathamnduites. On this particular day all the ‘Ajima’ gods are carried around the city. First they were brought into the Itumbahal, before moving into other places. Lord Kankeswari is worshiped in the Itumbahal compound near the shrine of Goddess of lineage (Degu Dya). ‘Kanga Ajima’ is specially related with the shrine of Itumbahal. There is a legendry story behind the arrival of ‘Kanga Ajima’ into Itumbahal.

The night before the start of ‘Pahan charey’ festival Bajarcharya Gurus from Itumbahal would go to the shrine of ‘Kanga Ajima’ near Visnumati river, offer tantric puja including ‘Homa’, in the ritualistic puja, the head of a Buffalo is sacrificed into the ‘Homa’. The Bajracharya Gurus then secretly entrap the lord ‘Kanga Ajma’ into sacred vessel (kalash) and brought into the Itumbahal. The next day lord ‘Kanga Ajima’ is brought into the Itumbahal, carried in her palanquin offer puja, including sagun before moving around other parts of the city. In Itumbahal, the festival heralding arrival of Lord kankeswari is practiced with feast (nakhatya), around neighborhood.

Festivals in Baisakh

Soon after the ‘Pahan–charey’ festivals on the auspicious 1st day of baisakh krishna pakshy, the lord Bundgadya is bathed in Lalitpur. The holy water from the well of Itumbahal (I-Tum) is brought in, for bathing ceremony. The sacred water including milk, honey, butter and sugar cane malt, are kept into a small clay pots (gounp-cha) and carried unto the Te-bahal of Lalitpur where Bungadya has been kept for a bathing ceremony. The water is mixed with the silver water vassals, ready for bathing ceremony. There is a special guthi to look after this bathing ceremony; unfortunately this festival is also discontinued mainly due to the internal disputes among sangha members.

New Year starts from ‘Baisakh sukla Pakshya’, in the month of April, and it heralds ascendance of Lord Bungadya into rath for rath jatra. The members of Itumbahal start the month long festival of ‘De-Puja’. The separate days has been allocated for the worship of ‘gods of lineage’ for a whole month from 4th day of Baisakh sukla pakshya upto 6th day of Jestha krisna pakshya (Kumar khasti, Sithi nakha), for this month the gate of ‘De-puja – Agam Ghar is open for worshippers.

Festivals in Asad

In the month of Asad Purney (Guru Purney) the senior Thayapas and sangha members have to observe the fasting ceremony known as “Keta-madu-Dhalan.” This ceremony is especially dedicated to please the snake god (naga raja) for abundant rainfall in the coming month women’s are not allowed to take part in this fasting ceremony.

This traditional fasting ceremony, pleasing of snake god has been discontinued, only a few seniors knew about it.

Thus, in Itumbahal there are many interesting festivals observed. But many of the festivals are now abandoned, probably, due to the scarcity of funds and internal disputes and lack of enthusiasm among Guthi members. Besides, all those monthly festivals, on the evening of full moon days of every month, the Guthi member would gather near kwapadya for recitation of Buddhist hymens, ‘strotra’. During the grand festival of Mohani and Swanti (Dasain & Tihar), and on the longest day and longest night of the year, (Dis puja) which is calculated according to Nepalese calendar, a special secret puja is performed at the Agam Ghar of Itumbahal.

Twelve yearly festivals in Itumbahal

Samyek Festival

In every Twelve years the ‘Samyek festivals’ is observed at Bhuikhel, Swayambhu.  Itumbahal, Watu Bahal and Lagan Bahal actively take part in the celebration of this festival. Earlier, there were three different samyek festivals are observed by the three different vihars in every four years. But after, NS. 888, with the occupation of Kathamandu valley by Prithvi Narayan Saha, the festival is abandoned for some years. King Prithvi Naryan Saha himself took initiative to resume the Samyek festivals. He made new rules to observe Samyek festivals in every twelve, years, jointly by the three viharas in the open fields of Bhuikhel. Indeed, from the days of Prithivi Narayan Saha the Samyek festival is observed in every twelve year at Bhuikhel, instead of its earlier spot of Bhurankhel.

The credit for starting the samyek festival in Itumbahal goes to the gentleman known as “Gudochandra” in NS 714. The stone inscription at Taranani has been found with his name and ruling monarch as Siva Simha Dev. He founded the Samyek Guthi and made large donations to the guthi. Even today, the generation of Gudochandra living at Taranani leads and represents the Itumbahal in the Bhuikhel samyek festivals.

The samyek festival is observed on the 1st day of Magh, every twelve years. A day before 1st Magh “Keshchandra Aaju” will be taken into the ‘Hanuman Dhoka Durbar’ for a day. Here all the invited ‘Samyek Gods and Dipankars are lined up, including Swayambhu Bhagawan, the next day on the 1st magh all those Gods and Dipankars will be taken into Bhuikhel in a long procession. In Bhuikhel they are seated according to their respective position and seniority. When the King arrives at venue the process of ‘Samyek mahadan’ is observed. Different kinds of foods, sweets, and drinks are donated to the King, Gods, Dipankaras, Gubhajus, Bares, present there. Rice, ‘Fermented radish (Lain-ken)’, ‘Sakha – ti’ (liquefied sugar cane malt mixed with herbs). ‘Mari’ (sweets) are distributed by different groups of communities from the Kathmandu Valley. Communities like Bare, from different viharas, Udayas, and Sayamis from different locations of the city, have had their respective commodities to be offered at ‘Samyek Mahadan’. The people from Itumbahal are given responsibility for distribution of ‘fermented radish’ (lain – ken) and they are known as ‘Lain ken khala’. For grand celebration of this Samyek festival, people from Itumbahal goes to Bhuikhel ten days earlier and starts camping tent near police station.

The process of fermenting radish starts with the construction of temporary kitchen by the sangha members from Itumbahal. For the purpose of all kinds of cooking in Samyek festival, a big copper cauldron, ‘khasi’ is brought into Bhuikhel from Itumbahal, then the kitchen is worshipped, all the Gods of Earth, Water, Fire and Air are invoked so that everything goes smoothly, and flawlessly. Thayapas from Itumbahal ring bell around Bhuikhel as a sacramental Bumi Sodhana– a purification rite of areas around Bhuikhel. Every day many volunteers arrive in the Kitchen camp to help bring raw radish and cut it into pieces. The rare herbs and medicinal plants are mixed with radish to prepare the special fermented radish.

The festival ends with the departure of King and all the attendant gods, Dipankaras into their respective locations.

Initiation ceremony ‘Bare Chuyegu’

bratabandhaIn every 12 years the initiation ceremony ‘Bare chuyegu’ takes place in Itumbahal. Unlike other viharas where any one can be initiated into vihara any time as they wish, Itumbahal forbade these practice and initiation takes place only once in 12 years.

The date for initiation is mutually fixed by a group of Thayapas and sangha members. It usually takes place during the month of magh. The huge ceremony lasts for about a week. Any children whose fathers are initiated in Itumbahal are eligible for “Bare chuyegu”. Adopted child, child born out of inter cast marriage, marriage within sngha are barred from initiation. The information for initiation is circulated among all sangha member a year earlier, so that no one should miss this opportunity, any one who are living outside the valley are also informed about the initiation.

The young boys are seated according to their date of birth and seniority. A series of Gurumandala Puja and varta is performed before they are cleanly shaven their head and donned with new robes of monks. The monks are awarded with ‘Silaku and Gulupa’ and allowed to enter the kwapadya. The newly ordained monks will travel around the city and have had to follow certain restrictions like eating meat, intoxicant, salt, pulses, and visit at least seven houses begging alms. After four days of monk hood, they are disrobed and return to normal family life.

Recently, Itumbahal sangha has changed some rules, so that child born out of intercast marriage is allowed to be initiated in Itumbahal vihara; provided their fathers are initiated in Itumbahal. Those children are barred from entering kwapadya and suspended from all kinds of mandatory jobs as a usual sangha member.

The process of initiation is important, for it allows one to become a full member of Itumbahal sangha and share the further responsibilities in the future as a sangha member.

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