Kartik Nach: The tantric dance drama
Patan mangal bazaar , being the hub of every festival, this place is almost never silent. When the cool October wind begins to blow, the ancient courtyard of mangal bazaar begins to warmup for a week-long tantric-masked-adorned-dance-drama, know as the Kartik Nach.
The legends say that, During the reign of Siddhi Narshingh Malla, a great misfortune befell on the land and no amount of pujas and yagyas helped in restoring the splendor of the city. When consulted with elders, the King found out that he must invoke Narsingha: the aggressive, blood thirsty incarnation of Lord Vishnu to help him with the situation. But invoking the Narsingha demanded a hefty price—narabali, the ritual to sacrifice a human annually. The King was in great dilemma.
His learned gurus suggested him an alternative way, they would invoke the gods with strong incantations and spells and perform a symbolic narbali, in name only. Then the King came up with the idea to enact a play. He wrote the complete play on revelation based on the Narasingha’s exploits as described in Vishnu Puran. The theme revolved around Narasingha, Lord kumar and Hiranyaksha. The festival was celebrated for a month with different acts and dances. The King also invited audience, musicians and singers to make it a proper event. And from the 17th century till date this festival is being celebrated in the Kartik dabaali of mangalbazar annually.
In the present time, the festival last till seven days usually beginning from 7pm, in the ancient courtyard of Mangalbazar, Patan. Kartik Nach is one of the important festivals of Patan so you can expect a lot spectators. The ambience is made musical with classical Newari instruments playing in the background, bhajans, people chattering and the street vendors selling roasted peanuts.
Today, people come to attend this masked dance festival with their friends and family, enjoying the crisp evenings of Patan, drinking the local tea with the roasted peanuts, admiring the visual brilliance of the dances, learning about their culture and the story of Narasingha and Lord Kumar, that say that no matter how powerful the evil might be, the good always wins against the bad.