Gunlā (Nepal Bhasa: गुंला) (also spelt Gumlā) means tenth and ‘la’ means month. Meanwhile, ‘gun’ also means hill and ‘la’ means fair that indicates traveling uphill. Buddhists from the Newar community celebrates this month-long Gunla festival. Devotees mark the holy month by reciting scriptures, making early morning pilgrimages to Buddhist temples and playing Gunla music. It is believed that Lord Buddha got enlightenment during this month. According to traditional beliefs, during primitive times, too much rain would fall. Due to this rain, the mud houses during the time would get devastated, moreover floods and landslides would add melancholy in people’s lives. So, in order to downturn the melancholy, and be safe from floods and landslides, people would go to Swayambhu playing the devotional music as it was in an elevation. Different traditional musical instruments are played in different places of Kathmandu during the festival.Some of the instruments include Dha, Taa, Nyakhi, Bhushya, Chuchya, and flute.

gunla 02Devotees form groups and go on pilgrimage. These groups visit Changunarayan, Bangalamukhi, Swoyambhunath, Bijeshwori, Shova, Bhagwati, Maruganesh, Janabahal, Suryabinayak. Devotees also visits Dattatraya temples on Nag Panchami, Janai Purnima and Krishna Janmasthami. On the last day, they visit Bungamati, Karyabinayak, Khokana, Jalbinayak, Chovar and Adityanath temples.

As part of the festival, On the first day of the second fortnight of Gunla, large images of the Dipankara Buddha and paubha paintings are put on display in sacred courtyards. The ceremony is known as Bahidyah Bwayegu (बहीद्यः ब्वयेगु).

On this day in a festival known as Bahidyah Swahwanegu (बहीद्यः स्वःवनेगु), the musical bands followed by residents of the locality visit the sacred courtyards in a procession to view the exhibits. The festival occurs on the day after the full moon and coincides with the Gai Jatra festival. Another major day for Gunla Bajan societies is the ceremony of Nisala Chhawanegu (निसला छाःवनेगु) when they make offerings to Swayambhu, and hold Gunla Bajan concerts at one’s neighborhoods.

The practice of observing the festival came from the concept of rains retreat during Buddha’s time, where monks remained at a place and taught dharma.