At a time the Dashain festival has gripped the country, local residents of Khokana, a rural village located around 10 km on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, are busy celebrating a five-day long Sikali Jatra. The Jatra, also celebrated as an alternative to Dashain by the traditional Newari community in Khokana from the day of Ghatasthapana.

This practice of celebrating Sikali Jatra dates back to 336 Nepal Sambat during the reign of the then king Amar Malla and is believed to prevent from any unwanted and unfortunate incidences affecting the life of locals and the locality. During the five-day celebration, goddess Rudrayani and other deities are worshipped along with three he-buffalo are sacrificed along with dances and offerings at a local Sidhi Temple in Bhakha of Khokana. On the final day of the festival, a local dressed as Goddess Rudrayani comes out to battle against the devils.

While the locals seem busy celebrating the annual festival in Khokona, some feel that the practice of sacrificing animals such as buffaloes and ducks as a part of the local tradition is the dark side of the festival.

“Locals believe that if we don’t sacrifice the animals on different occasions, misfortunes and tragedies will occur,”