The quaint farming village of Khokana remains silent and peaceful until Sikali Jatra springs into life. It is one of few towns inside the country where Ghatasthapana doesn't happen. Dashain festival is not part of the celebration among the locales of this ancient Newari town. Instead of Dashain, people of the alleys, nooks, green pasture and farmlands, gear up for eight days long Sikali Jatra. Despite, being majorly devout Hindus, they choose to pray Rudrayani and dozen of the other gods and goddesses over Durga. Celebrations light up the towns as masked dancers and the chariot travel throughout central corners.
Unlike, other Newar towns, Sikali festival of Khokana lacks decisive folklore of its origins. The settlements in Khokana are believed to be settled by Maharjan priest of Kathmandu's Pachali Bhairab. The legend states the priest was about to be cremated along with his fully alive wife, a Sati. The priest was far from death and woke up in the middle of Final rites. The participants of priest's final rites believed the entry of these people inside corridors of then kingdom of Kathmandu would bring bad omen to the city. Thus, were sent off to far land in Kudesh (ancient lost heritage city) but they were harassed by locales of Kudesh too. The priests and his wife wept and headed east in the opposite bank of the river. The goddess Sikali disheartened at the scene's of a weeping woman blessed them and settled in Khokana. The word Khokana stands along with the story and means told with tears. The festival is a symbol of respect and period of offerings for kind Sikali goddess.
The Sikali Jatra is an eight-day event with the ritual starting from Pratipada in the Hindu calendar and ending on Ashtami. Some portions of the Jatra are performed in utmost secrecy while others are displayed exorbitantly with colour and traditions. The first day of Jatra involves Macha Puja of four unmarried young boys from the three different Guthis responsible for conducting Sikali Jatra. The boys head to the Sikali grasslands and indulge in Puja and a fast. The birds, animals and humans are restricted entry in the Sikali Chaur(grasslands) during the puja period.
The third day or Tritiya marks the day of fast for all the Guthi members of Ta Guthi, Jhau Guthi and Sala Guthi. The fourth day or Chaturthi is a day of the feast in Khokana town as a sign of official initiation of the festival. People prepare for Chhyalabu feasts and enjoy it with their family on this day. On the fifth day, the statue of goddess Rudrayani is carried around town on bamboo chariots from the iconic three-storeyed pagoda. The night is glamoured with a sacrifice of buffalo and a few ducks. Early in the morning of the sixth day before sunrise, the Khat (bamboo chariot) is taken to Sikali grasslands for puja and rituals. The Thakulis garbed in white robes with glimmering fetas (headwear made of cloth) take the traditional musical instrument. Remaining of fourteen Thakuli men dress in flamboyant ornaments, godly masks and dazzling attires to turn into gods. The masked dance ceremony official kicks off - the dance happens around various parts of town on the sixth and seventh day. The eighth day marks the end of Sikali festival in Nepal and mask are taken back quaintly to Goddess Sikali's abode.
The festivity of Sikali Jatra is not the only offering of Khokana. The visitors making their way to Khokana during Dashain festival period can: