Saturday, September 26, 2009
Members of different communities — Bhutias, Sherpas, Marwaris, Bhojpuris and Lepchas — took part in a predominantly Gorkha tradition of phulpati rally, presenting a picture perfect scene of social harmony in Darjeeling.
Girls in chaubandi cholo danced along with masked dancers dressed as the goddess. The biggest phulpati rally was organised by the Gorkha Kala Sanstan, which snaked uphill from the Motor Stand to Chowrastha on a sunny morning. The sounds of madal and dhamphu (traditional Nepali instruments) reverberated the hills as almost every village brought out a rally.
Phulpati is a unique custom in which community members collect flowers, petals and other offerings from their houses and take them to the puja pandal to pay obeisance to Goddess Durga. The decorated palanquin carrying the sacred flowers, leaves and sugarcane tied in red clothes — the colour symbolising the goddess — is usually accompanied by an ornate umbrella. It is believed that people who pass underneath the palanquin are absolved of their sins. The tradition dates back to the days of King Pritivinarayan Shah (1723-1775) of Nepal when the phulpati procession used to start from Gorkha, his native place, and end at Kathmandu after covering hundreds of miles.
With the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha asking people to wear their traditional dresses for a month from today, many in town were seen attired in their costumes. Roshan Giri and Binay Tamang, the Morcha leaders, also took part in the Sanstan rally in traditional dress.
At Chowrasta, singers rendered songs. “From tomorrow, every community will perform its traditional dance for the next one month. The cultural show will be from 4pm to 6pm and the Lepchas will be the first to take the stage tomorrow,” said Tenzing Khambachay, the festival co-ordinator.