Newars have various life ceremonies that define who they are. And Bahra Tayagu or Bahra Chuyegu is one among many such events meant for girls. Bahra Tayagu or Bahra Chuyegu is an ancient tradition in Newar community in Nepal. Girls between the ages of 7 to 13 have to go through this religious practice once in their lifetime.
If you go through the etymology of the words Bahra Tayagu or Bahra Chuyegu; in Nepal Bhasa Bahra means a ‘cave’ and teyegu or chuyegu mean ‘to put’. Hence, Bahra tayegu is the ceremony where Newar girls are put in a “cave” like set-up for 12 days.
There is a specific reason to do so. It is a celebration of upcoming womanhood of the girl child and let her know that she is entering into adulthood and maturity. Moreover, this is also a way to let the women’s of Newar community to enjoy freedom —freedom to wear red even being a widow.
Newari women’s are never considered widows because they get married three times. They get married two times with immortal gods—bel (wood apple that symbolizes Lord Narayan) and Sun— then with a mortal man.
Meanwhile, Bahra Tayagu ceremony is a ritual done before the first menstruation of the girl. At Bahra the girl is married to the eternal, almighty God Sun. This is the second marriage for the Newari girls and marrying a man becomes their third marriage. They get married to a wood apple for the first time.
During the Bahra ritual the girl is kept in a dark room for the first 11 days avoiding any sun light and any male contact. This is the ritual that signifies the purification of the girl before her marriage to the sun god on the 12 th day. The final day is the day of celebration along with a party for family and friends.