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The Sun saved my life

Marrying with the Sun is quite unbelievable in this scientific world. One might get puzzled of thinking that how it is possible to marry a raging fire . It is a traditional ritual for a Newari girl to marry the Sun .Newar is one of the ethnic groups in Nepal. Their language ,lifestyle ,culture, tradition and the rituals are totally different from other ethnic groups .One of their unique traditional ritual is “Gufa” , when a girl of age between 12-14 years old has to stay in a dark room for twelve days before menstruation . Gufa is also known as ”Surya Darshan” , marrying with the Sun on 12th day. This traditional ritual has its own significance and it is performed by Newari families in different ways .It is believed that the girl is protected by the Sun from the bad people and the evils after the marriage. On contrary , it is hard and even risky for the girls who spend twelve days in a dark room to complete this ritual .In the following paragraphs , I’ll briefly mention all 5w’s +1H of this ritual that is when ,where, why, what , who and how this traditional ritual is done including my own experience.
Dark room signifies Gufa tradition .Gufa is set in one of the dark room of the house. This traditional ritual is only for the girls of age between 12-14years who are kept in a dark room for twelve days in the month of February and March . During these days, ”Bahra Khayak” (ghost) is made and worshiped .Girl’s aunt , marital uncle, father, mother, and grandmother are the most important persons who have their own particular roles for completing this ritual. After twelve days ,aunt brings the girl who will be blind folded out of the house; marital uncle puts the oil on girls hair; father and mother gives “sagun” which is an egg and curd and the grandmother ties the girl and the Sun as a husband and a wife.
The ways of performing this traditional ritual differs according to the family. Some of the families keep their girls in a dark room for six days ,whereas most of the families keep their girls in a dark room for twelve days .Likewise ,in my family a girl is kept in a dark room for twelve days and she is not allowed to see a male person and the sunlight. Here are some details that my family do during this traditional ritual .In this occasion , Bahra Khayak (ghost) is made and worshipped because it is believed that the girl is under the evil possession .The head member of the family separates meal for Bahra khayak everyday .Oil is not applied by the girl for twelve days .On 6th day ,relatives visit her with fruits .The girl is entertained with folk songs and dances which are performed by her friends .
On the 12th day, a girl marries with the Sun. She takes bath before the sunshine. Her aunt brings out of the house blind folded to have “Surya Darshan”(to see sun ). During this ritual , grandmother performs a major role. She first worships God Ganesh and the Sun .Then she gives wheat seeds and rice grains to the girl which the girl throws backward for three times. ”Sindoor” ,a red color is put on the forehead of the girl and her marital uncle puts oil on her hair .After this the girl is considered as a wife of the Sun.The ritual ends with a party which we call “Bhoj”, a traditional meal made from meat, beaten rice, different types of vegetables like potato, bamboo shoots, cabbage ,cereals .All relatives come to attend the ritual with clothes and rice grains for the girl.
Each family member now considers that the girl is not mere child but has now become an adolescent . This traditional ritual signifies the changes in life of girls. However ,it shows the significance of Newari tradition. According to my view ,Gufa also has a negative aspects that means it is very risky. While performing this ritual , most of the girls get sick and even die. If the girl dies during this period then she is buried in the same room. I have been through this when I was 13-years -old. During that period, I was sick for seven days. Everyday my mother used to hug me tightly and cry. Even my father used to cry sitting near the door of my room because he was not allowed to see me . I was lucky enough to recover my sickness after ten days. It may be because of the love and care of all family members. Sometimes, I sense that I recover from that dreadful illness. I believed that since I was going to marry an immortal god Sun, he is the one who saved my life. People wont believe this if I say this but its the reality. He is the one who saved my life as well as who made me to face such situation which I will not forget. When I came out of the house ,all the male members of my family were waiting outside to see me .My father ran towards me and lift me up on his arm. He was so delighted to see me . Whenever I think about that day , tears rolls down my face remembering the situation of my parents.
Being a girl of Newari group , I this ritual (Gufa), which is the most important traditional ritual for the girls which signifies girls maturity and it is also believed that the girl is under the protection of the Sun.

Comments

Hi Maharjan,

This tradition reminds me of the saying: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Even though this tradition is very different from the ones I was raised with, I see it as a very appropriate metaphor for the battles that we all face in life. If we can make it through the hardship and adversity, we can achieve a union with something greater than ourselves. And even though you could not see the Sun, you still knew he was there. Thank you for sharing this fascinating part of your heritage with us!

Ruth

"A writer’s job is to tell stories that connect readers to all the people on earth... Passionate and well-articulated ideas can and do change the world." ~~Mary Pipher

Dear Ruth,
I would like to thank you for your comment. It is a unique tradition in my community which we have to follow. When I shared this with other friends who are from different ethnic groups they were very surprised and were eager to know about this. I think that you are right it was one of the battle that I faced in my life in my childhood when I was unknown to real world that means hardships, happiness. May be this tradition or ritual sounds quite unusual to others but it is what we have to do being a girl from my community. When I performed this ritual my parents had lost their hope that I will survive. They were worried and worship the god Sun for my recovery. Those days still hovers in my mind and tears come from my eyes when I remember the condition of my parents because of me.
I believe that it is hard to marry the Sun. Therefore, I think that it is one of the hardship that I had to overcome in order to be his wife. I feel safe and previlege after marrying him though I cannot see his appearance just I can feel him. Wherever I go I sense that he is protecting me.
As you mention that you were also raise in your own tradition.I am eager to know about it.
Thank you for giving your ideas towards my writing.

Tina's picture

Dear Maharjan, I am both

Dear Maharjan,
I am both moved and inspired by the inner strength and power you show in this story. It is such an amazing thing to be married to the sun, but yes a risky and dangerous journey to get there. It must have been terrifying for you to go through such an experience as a young girl. But you did overcome it and now by sharing your story you have brought a bit of that sunshine with you to shed light on a tradition and a part of a community life that many of us had not heard from before.
Thank you for opening my eyes and I hope very much to read more from you.
Tina

maharjan's picture

Dear Tina, Being a young girl

Dear Tina,
Being a young girl of age 11, I knew nothing. Moreover, I wonder why I am staying inside the room though i am sick?why my parents were not taking me to the hospital? The only thing they remind me that I should not go outside of the room even if I die. Therefore, I didnot have any hope that I would survive. This traditon has made me to learn lots of thing in my life that is family's strong belief in their traditions that means they are ready to see their child being dead but they are not ready to break the rules of their traditions. By saying so I didnt mean to say that my parents didnot care about my situation.They did but at the same time they respect their traditions and rules of it. When I grew up, I realize that it was the step a exam to test how much I can endure the problems and obstacles in my life. I am happy that he saved me.
I will be writing more about other traditions and rituals of my community and hope i will get response from you
Thank you
nadina maharjan

cbenkov's picture

Nadina Maharjan -- Thanks so

Nadina Maharjan --

Thanks so much for sharing this post. I love hearing about the many rituals that different ethnic groups have, especially the details and the meaning behind them.

My question for you -- when you have a daughter one day, will you have her marry the sun?

Best wishes,
Carly

maharjan's picture

Dear Obenkov, It is a very

Dear Obenkov,
It is a very hard question. I am afraid that my daughter will also face the same problem. However,I have to follow and respect my traditions and rituals. Hope till that period some changes might happen. In case if I will marry the person from different ethnic group then my daughter doesnot need to go through this process.
If she will marry the sun and face the same problems like me then I believe that the one whom we marry will save us. As he is the creator as well as our saver.
Thank you
Nadina

ccontreras's picture

I learned something new!

I really enjoyed reading your story! And I really would like to know a lot more about your culture! It sounds like a very beautiful ritual but as you say, it can also be dangerous. I am so glad that you are here amongst us to tell us your story. I am also curious about if this means that you will not marry a human man? Or is this just representing your transition to adolescence? Can I friend you on this blog? I really want to know alot more about your culture! :-)
Thank you and many blessings!

"I embrace emerging experience. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." - Stafford

maharjan's picture

Dear coontreras, I am

Dear coontreras,
I am delighted that you like my story. As you said it is just representing to adoloscence. We Newari girls marry for three times in our life. Firstly, we marry with Bel, a fruit at the age of 8 or 9-years-old. Secondly, we marry with the Sun and thirdly, we get married with a human. And we believe that in the future if a husband dies then the girls are not considered as a widow as we already married with immortals.
Sure you can be my friend. It would be my pleasure to be your friend to share my stories as well as to know about yours as well.
Thank you so much for your blessings :))

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