Ubhauli Parba is Kirat community’s (Rai, Limbu, Yakha and Sunuwar) one of the important festivals. The Kiratis are the inhabitants of the eastern hilly regions – Bhojpur, Khotang, Dharan and Dhankuta. They celebrate the festival by worshipping their kitchen, sacred religious sites and earth. They are also known as the nature worshipper.
The festival is celebrated on Baisakh Purnima according to the Nepali calendar every year with much rejoice. The Limbu community of Dharan-15 greets each other and dance Chyabrung to mark the festival. Then Rai community celebrates worshipping earth in Durbar at Hang Buddhikarna, Dharan 14. Similarly, Yakha and Sunuwar community too worship the earth on the occasion.
Ubhauli is also observed as Sakela Ubhauli in Rai community, Yakwa Tangnam in Limbu community, Yucchyang in Yakha community and Phol Shyadar in Sunuwar community. Rai community dances sakela at various places for 15 days starting from Baisakh Purnima. People from all age groups participate in the dance with much enthusiasm wearing their traditional dresses. They dance in the tunes of dhol and jhyamta that indicates the season of farming has arrived.
Ubhauli is the festival when the Kirat community worships nature and ancestors wishing for good health, precaution against diseases, happiness and peace in life along with good rain and good harvest. As the Ubhauli begins, people believe that birds like ‘karyang kurung’ and others are fly toward hilly region from plain area. Likewise, agriculture being the life line of the community, the Kirats celebrate the Udhauli festival to thank nature for providing them with good harvest.
During the festival, they first perform the Bhumi Puja in which they worship land (earth) and Mother Nature. After the puja, the men and women form large circles and dance the Sakela together. These dances are accompanied by instruments such as the Dhol, Jyamta, Madal and many more.
There is a very interesting legend behind this festival. According to Kirant mythology, Paruhang, who used to live in heaven, saw a beautiful girl named Sumnima on Earth. He fell in love with Sumnima and married her. But later Paruhang left Sumnima in a hut on the bank of Dudhkoshi River and did not return for a long time.
One day, while searching for food, Sumnima saw a creeper on a stone. She tasted the creeper and found that it was full of power and happiness. She took the creeper with her and made a Buti, an intoxicating religious garland, with it. The Buti inspired everybody, who saw it, to tell the truth of their lives.
Many years later, Paruhang returned, and Sumnima, wanting to know why he left her, gave the buti to Paruhang, which made him tell the truth. Paruhang had spent the time looking at the heaven and Earth from the top of Chomolongma (Mount Everest). He told 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. So there is also a tradition of young Kirat boys and girls participating in Sakela Dance to meet each other and find love.