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Gufa – A Newari Tradition in Nepal

Subash Shrestha May 26, 2020

Gufa is a traditional ritual of the Newar community. As an ethnic group Newar community is rich in culture, tradition, unique in lifestyle and language. Among various unique traditions, Gufa is one of them.

Gufa is a traditional ritual performed for a girl between 12-14 years old before menstruation. A girl has to stay in a dark room for 12 days. This ritual has its own significance and is performed by different families in different ways. In fact, this ritual is also known as “Surya Darshan”, where it’s a marriage but with the Sun. It is performed on the 12th day.

gufa
Photo Source: omgnepal.com

The Sun is regarded as God since it is the source of energy, power. So, it is believed that the marriage is with the Sun will protect the girl from bad and evils. It seems hard for girls to stay in a dark room for 12 days but that’s how it’s done.

Gufa tradition is set in one of the dark room in the house. This ritual is only for girls. And it is done before menstruation. At the age of between 12-14 years old this ritual is performed in a dark room.IN these days, a small woolen dummy is made as in representing “Bahra Khyak”(ghost) amd worshipped. For this ritual there are some important peoples having their own particular roles to complete the ritual. Girl’s grandmother, father, mother, aunt and martial uncle are the most important people during the ritual.

Photo Source: omgnepal.com

Roles

Aunt brings out the girl(blind folded) from the house. Her martial uncle puts oil on her hair. The girl is then given ‘Sagun’(egg and curd). And finally, grandmother tieing the girl and the Sun as a husband and wife. The ritual (Gufa) and ways to perform it differ according to the family. Most of the families keep their girls in a dark room for 12 days whereas some of them keep for only 6 days.

“Bahra Khyak”

During the ritual, Bahra Khyak(ghost) is worshipped as it is believed that the girl is under evil possession. Every day the head member of the family separates meals for ‘Bahra Khyak’. They are not allowed to step outside the room, not allowed to look outside or the Sun. Not even any male person.

During Gufa- Ritual

Until it’s the 12th day, the girl stays in a dark room worshipping ‘Bahra Khak’. On the 6th day, the relatives in the family, her friends, visit her(only female). They take some fruits for her and for entertaining the girl they sing for folks songs, dance and enjoy inside.  The 12th day refers to the day of marriage(with the Sun), Taking bath before sunshine she is then brought outside blindfolded for ‘Surya Darshan’( to see the Sun).

Firstly, she worships lord Ganesh and the Sun. The grandmother has a major role as she handovers wheat seeds and rice grains to the girl which is thrown backwards for three times. After putting on ‘Sindur’ red colour on her forehead, her martial uncle puts oil on her head. And with that she is  now considered as a wife of the Sun.

Gufa Bhoj

As the ritual is completed it is ended with a Bhoj(party). Traditional meals including beaten rice, meat, potato, bamboo shoots and cereals. Relatives attend with clothes and rice grains for the girls.

After Gufa

This ritual signifies the changes in the girl’s life as now every family member considers the girl as an adolescent. This shows the significance of Newari Culture/Tradition.

Staying inside for 12 days in the same room not allowed to do anything sometimes causes sickness. Although it’s staying inside and doing nothing but can make out stress. However, this ritual is one of the unique rituals in Newar culture and it signifies the maturity of the girl.

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