Every year 28 ft tall bamboo pole is erected at Basantapur, Kathmandu. This is done on every Falgun Shukla Pakshya Astami to mark the beginning of the century old ritual Holi. Hindus celebrate this festival of colors with great enthusiasm. And the main celebration begins a week after the erection of this pole. This year it has been erected on March 14. It is believed that one should not mind getting wet or smeared with colors within this period until it is taken down.
Chir is the long bamboo pole having colourful cloth pieces hanging in three different circular layers. It looks like an umbrella. It is erected in joint effort of Manandhar community and government officials.
A question might arise why does it have colourful cloth pieces hanging? There are many myths behind it and one of the belief is that the cloth pieces symbolize the sarees. These sarees belong to Gopinis from Brindha Ban which Lord Krishna took away while they were taking a bath naked in Yamuna River. Meanwhile, the meaning of Chir translates as clothes in Sanskrit.
Moreover, a special kind of bamboo is used to erect Chir known as Bhalu bamboo. It is used due to its strength to hold three heavy wooden rings and its straightness. About the initiation of this ritual Dr Chunda Bajracharay, Cultural expert shares, “There is not any exact date when it started but it is believed to be started by the Malla kings. As people lived in a closed society, this helped to extent the period of expressing love. This festival also known as festival of sharing love became a golden opportunity to say ‘I love you’ through smearing colors and hitting with lolas.”
Chir is also wrapped by yellow coloured cloth pitamber. And at the end of the festival locals struggle to get a piece of this cloth. They believe that having it can bring happiness, health and prosperity in their life. And if your child is drooling all the time and you want to cure it. Then you simply make it worn by your kid.
This pole is taken down on the day of Holi and is pulled toward Thudhikhel. There it is burnt and Marwadi community does their rituals walking circular around the burning fire. This bonfire symbolizes burning of Holika and victory over evil as per Hindu myth.
Photos: Rekha Shakya