Kartik Naach in Pictures: Narasimha avatar takes centre stage at Patan Durbar Square

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An artist dressed as Narasimha performs on stage. All photos: Simon Paudel

Kathmandu, November 17. The full moon night yesterday saw the eighth and final performance of the “Kartik Naach,” staged at the ‘Kattik Dabli’ of the Charnarayan temple premises, in Patan.

Oral traditions suggest that during the reign of Siddhi Narsingh Malla (mid-seventeenth century), a severe catastrophe hit the kingdom. Prominent religious gurus of the time advised the king to invoke “Narasimha,” Lord Vishnu’s fierce half-man, half-lion incarnation, through a ceremonial human sacrifice. The belief being that when Narasimha comes close to the sacrificed body, the King may be able enough to capture the deity and ask him to solve the land’s misfortunes.

Because the Malla monarch did not want to slaughter an innocent subject, he sought out alternatives. The Rajopdhayay gurus of the King offered an alternate method of summoning God through “Tantrik performance” leading to the birth of “Kartik Naach” in 1641 CE.

“Kartik Naach” has entertained Patan audiences for the past 380 years.

The first-ever performance staged in November of 1641 CE lasted for two days.

Various sources in current times have outlined the differing stories of the evolution of the tradition since then.

According to a source, Siddhi Narsingh Malla’s son Shree Niwas Malla realized that the art form could be utilized to educate people about Hindu gods. He extended the dance by ten days, making it a twelve-day event.

In the 18th century, Yog Narendra Malla, Shree Niwas Malla’s son stretched the performance to 27 days.

Nowadays, the performance of Kartik Naach is normally held between 8 to 27 days as per the lunar calendar.  However, due to the COVID pandemic last year, the dance was only performed for two days.



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