Lakhey Mask is the Newari mask which is used in traditional festivals of Newars in Kathmandu. This mask is handcrafted by Nepali Artist.
About The Lakhey Mask and Indra Jatra
Each year during the festival of Indra Jatra, Nepalese people will enjoy for a week to celebrate it.
This festival is the traditional festival of dancing demons to fascinate the Living Goddess Kumari In Nepal.
In the time of Jatra the man with demon mask is called as a Lakhey or Lakhey, and perform the dancing ritual at the annual September festival in the Kathmandu Valley.
Lakhey is one of half a dozen men who take turns donning the 15-kilogram headgear complete with red mask and hair. Long brocade gown is tapered at the waist with a belt of leather and metallic bells, weighing around 10 kilograms, that holds in place a 20-meters white cloth waistband.
The Lakhey will dance by hoisting his limbs into the air, showing off his tattooed arms that allow those familiar with him to identify the one behind the mask.
Traditionally, the Lakhey came from the Ranjitkar clan. According to mythology, the demon was being chased by the people of Kathmandu for creating havoc in the city. As he fled, Lakhey slipped on paint and fell, but the Ranjitkars gave him refuge from his pursuers.
The role of Lakhey is responsible, not everyone can take on. Only the chosen can be Lakhey and he can perform Indra Jatra. When someone will become Lakhey, he performs all seven days of the festival without taking a break.
The Lakhey ritual is tied to the annual chariot ride of the Kumari, the living goddess of Nepal, the highlight of the Indra Jatra festival. The goddess is a child from the Shakya clan and can be as young as 3 years old. The goddess is removed from her revered position once she reaches puberty or loses a baby tooth.
Due to its traditional link to monarchs, the institution of Kumari is somewhat controversial since the monarchy was abolished in 2006. But the festival continues to be held and during it, the goddess is taken around the old city in a chariot dragged by men.
“A Lachey’s job is to lead the path for the Kumari’s chariot,” It is believed that the lakhey will run with barefoot, dancing, and he never feels tired because of the power of God. They believe that the god is protecting them from all the bad.
There is no formal training to prepare the men for it.
They grow up with it, watching their elders do this every year, And when the day of the performance arrives, he just knows that it’s time to perform and he does it.
The sound of the drums and cymbals in the festivals have a certain lure for them and as children, they would bunk off school to join in. Everyone enjoys the festival in the rythme of drums and dancing.
The dance looks great to onlookers, but there are problems behind the mask,” Lakhey are forbidden to look at gods like Dagee and Sawabhakku who also walk through the streets during the festival, so they have to maintain the presence of mind to make sure they are looking only where they aren’t forbidden
While the rest of the characters in the festival saunter through the city, the Lakhey can be seen running, jumping and dancing in a frenzy. Its sidekick, Jhyaalincha, attempts to allay the crowd’s fear, as it teases and provokes the demon.
The Lakhey looks like the demon, the children enjoy it from far by seeing the dance but they fear to touch Lakhey. The Lakhey is special because it is fearsome. The fear is needed to balance out other emotions.
There is also a popular belief that spirits never haunt houses that the Lakhey has been to. During the festival, people request its presence at their homes to protect them.
It is believed that the Lakhey mask is considered to have some tantric powers.