North of Thimi in Bhaktapur, an important temple of a Tantric deity Mahalakshmi brings about a strange tongue-boring ritual that falls on during Nepali New Year. The temple’s priest drives a thin metal needle through the tongue of the male volunteer who prepares for the day through several days of purification and fasting. The man then parades the Bode village bearing a bamboo rack of oil lit lamps and has the needle removed on returning to the temple. The wound is then crammed with mud scraped from the temple’s floor and the man is said to earn great religious merit in absence of bleeding. It is believed that the successful completion of this painful rite brings good fortune to the villagers & the volunteer himself.

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The myth

Locals believe that the historic settlement of Bode was close to Nilbarahi Jungle of the Malla era, some 12 kilometers from Kathmandu. When the evil spirits of Nilbarahi started tormenting the Bode folks, the whole village shifted to the current location. However, the evil spirits continued to torment the Bode folks even in the new settlement. To prevent the spirits form entering into their village, the villagers blocked all four entry points of Bode with invisible walls with the help of a religious scholar. Later, an evil spirit that tried to enter into Bode got stuck at one of the entry points. The captured evil spirit was paraded throughout Bode with his tongue pierced. He was freed only when he made a promise that he would never cause trouble in Bode.

“Since then, Bode is free of drought, deadly earthquake, famine and epidemic,”