The holy month of Gun:laa | Newar Community Festival


The frog-feeding festival is one among dozens of rituals Newas follow during the Gun:laa month. Gun:laa translates to the ninth month of the Nepal Sambat. This month, people believe they have to eat nine types of beans, wear nine kinds of clothes, visit nine different bahas (courtyards), and vihars (monasteries). Why is ‘nine’ so significant in the ninth month of the year? There is not any clear answer.

Rituals of this month are heavily influenced by Buddhist culture and traditions. There are many Buddhism-influenced countries, but the celebration is unique only to Nepal and Nepali Buddhist followers or priests. Late priest Hemraj Shakya’s article on “Importance of Gun:laa and its traditions” in Lotus Research Centre’s publication Paleswan’s special edition (Volume 6, Issue 7) gives further insight into it.

He has written, that Gun:laa is taken as the month of purity and spirituality, while people dwell in activities that raise consciousness or awareness. They also get involved in donations and promote non-violent or positive thoughts, and even avoid meat, alcohol, and drugs.

In Swayambhu Purana, a Buddhist holy text, there is a story of Lord Manjushree and how he drained the water from the then Kathmandu Valley that was in form of a lake and how the Swayambhu Temple (previously called Syengu in local language) came into existence. People believe the temple came into existence in this month of Gun:laa. Also, this is the time when the various stupas and monasteries were established.

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