Also called Sakewa
Observed by Kirats around the world as well as many non-Kirants
Type Kirat, cultural
Significance Worship of Nature and mother earth.
Date Ubhauli in Buddha Purnima
Udhauli in Mangshir Purnima
Baisakh Purnima and Mangshir Purnima in Nepali calendar.
Observances Sakela sili, cultural group dance, Religious services, family meetings, relatives meetings
Related to Buddha jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Buddha, Nature,Sili

Sakela is the main festival of Kirat which is celebrated twice a year distinguished by two names Ubhauli and Udhauli. Sakela Ubhauli is celebrated during Baisakh Purnima (full moon day in the month of Baishak) and Sakela Udhauli is celebrated during the full moon day in the month of Mangshir.


Main characteristic of this festival is the Sakela dance performed by large group of Kirats wearing their traditional dress. People from all ages dance togather making a large circle.RUBY PURPLE There are male and female leaders in each circle known as Silimangpa and Silimangma respectively. These two people control the sili of the dance while the other dancers imitating them. The sili, style of the dance moves, reflects the different aspects of human life and our relationship with nature. The ritual starts from the chula puja, worship of chula, at home by the kirat priest nakchhong. After completion of the chula puja, nakchhong performs the sacrificial rite (usually with chicken) over the sacred place known as Sakela Than, which is usually under a sacred tree.

As the nakchhong signals the completion of ritual by starting Sakela dance by him/herself the actual group Sakela dance commences. Everybody in a joy, participates in the dance forming a circle. With the beating of Dhol(Drum) and the "Jhyamta" performing different silies guided by Silimangpa and Silimangma.

Among Kirats Rais,Yakkha and Sunuwar celebrate this festival,whereas Limbu's have Chasok Tangnam.


File:Sakela ladies.JPG

According to Kirat holy book Mundhum a year is divided in to two phases: Ubhauli (Going up) and Udhauli (Going down). It is accepted that naming came from the migration pattern of birds. During the start of winter season in Mangshir, the birds migrate downward towards the warmer Terrain belt, and thus it is known as Udhauli, which means Downward. Likewise, during the rise of Summer season,the birds migrate upwards to the cooler Hilly region, and thus it is known as Ubhauli.

Kirats believe in Shamanism and they are the worshiper of the mother nature. Sakela celebration is the prayer to Mother Nature for good crops and protection from natural calamities. Therefore, the festival is also known as "Bhumi Puja". They celebrate Sakela Ubhauli during Baisakh (April/May) ,as it is the start of farming and cultivation time. It is celebrated for 15 days which starts from Baisakh Purnima.

Similarly, the celebration of Sakela Udhauli during the Mangshir (November/December) is their way of thanks giving to nature for providing them with good crops, as it is the time for harvesting.


File:Sakela dhol.JPG

The celebration is connected to many myths. According to the Kirat Mythology, it is said that before the marriage of Sumnima and Paruhang, Paruhang used to live in the heaven .One day, he saw beautiful Sumnima on the earth and fell in love. He made a beautiful comb, sent it to Sumnima who wished wed him.

Four children were born of them after marriage. But Paruhang left Sumnima in a hut on the bank of Dudhkoshi River and did not return for long time. One day, she saw a creeper on a stone while she was in search of food for her children. She tasted the creeper and it was full of power and happiness. She brought the creeper and made Buti, an intoxicating religious garland, and kept it safe. The Buti inspired everybody who saw it to tell the truth of her/his life. Paruhang returned suddenly. He tried to counsel angry Sumnima. She gave the Buti to Paruhang. This immediately made him glad and he started to tell what he had done. He had spent the time looking at the heaven and the earth from the top of Chomolongma (Mt. Everest ). He also said her that he had meditated, and visited the whole universe. Paruhang promised not to leave her, which made Sumnima dance with joy. It is believed the dance is the 'Sakela dance'. For this reason, tradition is also that young boys and girls comes to participate this dancing festival to meet each other and find their love.

Current Trend

The Sakela dance has become very popular in the cities of Nepal particularly among the young generation. Kirat Rai are celebrating this festival widely in outside Nepal as well, specially in Sikim, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and United States. But, the real flavour of the dance can only be seen in eastern hills of Nepal.

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