The Gunla: (Pronounced Goon lā) tenth month in the Nepal’s native Nepal Sambat Calendar marks a unique festival of Nepal. It’s a festival, one is unlikely to come across in any other corner of the planet. The Buddhist Newars across Newar towns in the country embark on early morning jog of a unique kind as part of the Gunla: festival. An amazing melody of music waves side by side with the cool monsoon wind early morning of the Mid July to Mid August. The Musical Festival of Nepal, Gunla: is a prayer offered to Buddha, one can also come across devout believers reciting the mantras on embark around Buddhist stupas of Kathmandu Valley.
Legend of Gunla:
Gunla: may be a must experience festival in Nepal but it attaches itself to background of gloomy history associated with torrential monsoon rain. Most festivals of culturally rich newars usually revolve around a great event, generally associated with good times but Gunla: was started at tough times.
The brilliantly decorated pagoda style homes garlanded with beautiful tiki jhaya: (traditional Newari window) and Sanjhya: (large newari window found in sitting rooms) could not withstand the extra-long haul rains which caused landslide and decimated mud houses. The sadness used to spread across the plains of valley in such periods. Further, the landslides and flood added hardships to people. Thus, they went to Buddha’s protection to pray god and attend religious congregation on top of Swayambhu hill which lay above low grounds.
Additionally, there are speculation that Gunla: festival also means and gun (pronounced guṁ) uphill forest and La(means a fest above hill). Thus, come experience buddha’s protection and auspicious melodious homage to Lords of the Lord, Buddha in the festival which happens around Buddhist stupas of Kathmandu Valley. The practice of Gunla: is also thought to have been rooted in the tradition form Buddha’s period, when Gautam Buddha alongside fellow monks would teach Dhamma or Dharma when searching a shelter from the rain.
The main attraction of the Gunla: festival is World Heritage site Swayambhu Stupa: but there a lot of places you can be to enjoy the musical festival in Nepal. The smell of burning incense, lit butter lamps and magnamious oration of Buddhist Naamsangit Paath(set of hymns and mantras) across the wonderful Bahals is a sight to behold. While, you are most likely to come across the assembly of large numbers of people playing Dha bajaa, Nyakhi, Bhusya, Taa bajaa, basuri and Chuchya in Swayambhu but viharas and bahis in Kathmandu are also lively during this period. Visit the following list of sites to take a glimpse deep down into Kathmandu Valley’s Buddhist Heritage.
Get a Local guide with Nepabooking for a first-hand experience the Musical festival of Nepal, the melodious Gunla. Walk alongside the master musician on an uphill trek early morning while the refreshing monsoon air breezes. Get awestruck with the spectacle of people lining up to make rounds of the stupa with prayer beads, musical instruments and more. Further, you can sit by on the side and enjoy Prasad being distributed along with the free water provided by volunteers while enjoying Kathmandu’s urban landscape.
Popularly known as Golden temple, Hiranaya Varna Mahabaihara has long been the most famous of viharas and Bahis of Kathmandu. The elaborately decorated pagoda style temple offering abode to Lokesvara and Manjushree alongside the lord Buddha is tinted full yellow with the Brass metal used to build it. The monkeys with jack fruit welcoming you and awesome looking silver and golden colored stupa make it a sight to behold.
On road to Gunla Festival, one needs to make his ways to Mahabouddha temple located to Nuga: hiti: (Patan sundhara). Visit Shikhar styled building nestled inside a small chuka to know importance of Gunla: festival. The hymns echoing in the small chukka with Mahabouddha add an element of awe to thousands of terracotta tiles Buddha offering his blessings to visitors.
Located in the east of Bhaktapur Durbar Square, people take their Bajas and visit one of important Biharas and Bahis in Kathmandu in case the people are unable to make it to Swayambhu. It’s a daily routine for people in Bhaktapur during Gunla: month to hit Chaturvarna Mahavihara where old people chant Buddhist Naamsangit Paath in praise of the world. The place may not be flashy but wooden structures and stone structures with Buddhist architecture in its courtyard can take any visitor back to medieval classic feel of Kathmandu.
The abode of Janabaha Dyo: (Seto Machhendranath) is lively every day even when Gunla: is not on the horizon but the baha illuminates a separate kind of radiance during Gunla: times. Lines of people offering pyaraa (in Nepal bhasa) or peda (in Nepali) to god as an offering while musical hymn echo across the wall of this elaborately made brass pagoda creates a sight to witness.
During the month of this unique festival in Nepal, People also need to visit the shrine of Lord Bunga Dyo:(Rato Macchendranath) once as per traditional routine. People flock to this temple with various offerings and their Baja groups whether they be Manandhars, Shakyas, Tamrakars, Kansakars, Tuladhars, Bajracharyas or shakya budhhists clans. The amalgamation of different music playing style brought by these separate Buddhists clans to the Bunga Dyo:, makes one truly believe of diversity Blossoming In Nepal.