By Our Correspondent,Dhankuta, Dec.1: Athapahariyas residing mainly in the Dhankuta Municipality are currently immersed in the festivities of Wadangmet.
This unique celebration serves as a commemoration of the departed Athapaharyia Rais throughout the year and jubilation for the addition of new family members. Wadangmet holds a central role in the customs of the local Athapahariyas.
During Wadangmet, family members of the deceased embark on a four-day journey from Dhankuta, culminating in a ritualistic bathing in the Kokaha River at Barahkshetra of Sunsari.
The festival also entails a unique practice of symbolic shedding of hair.
The festival, commencing from Kartik Purnima and lasting until Aunsi, holds Dhankuta Municipality as its main hub, with the Athapahariya population dispersed across different areas totalling
around 5,000. Despite the concerns within the Athapahariya community about the potential erosion of this festival with the onset of modernity, community leaders are actively engaged in preserving their authenticity.
Ashta Bahadur Athapahariya, the president of Athapahariya Samaj Dhankuta, acknowledges the evolving nature of their traditions, citing changes in transportation methods and alterations in styles of dance and songs.
He laments these shifts but expresses his determination to protect their cultural heritage collectively. Recognising the cultural significance, Dhankuta Municipality has accorded great importance to Wadangmet, even declaring a two-day public holiday in the municipality.
Mayor Chintan Tamang highlighted the collaborative efforts between the municipality and the Athapahariya community to organise various programmes aimed at promoting and preserving this unique festival.