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(English) Jujunbhai pierces tongue for 6th consecutive years for “Culture”

Juju Bhai Shrestha, who got his tongue pierced for the 6th  consecutive year as part of a Newari tradition, waves to his supporters during the religious procession on the sixth day of Bisket Jatra. Image: Agency
Juju Bhai Shrestha, who got his tongue pierced for the 6th consecutive year as part of a Newari tradition, waves to his supporters during the religious procession on the sixth day of Bisket Jatra. Image: Agency

KATHMANDU, Nepal–”Since this time as well no one else was ready to dare the challenge, finally I dared to pierce my tongue for the six consecutive attempts”, Jujunbhai Shrestha, 33, of Bode village in Bhaktapur district, some 10 kilometers east of the capital Kathmandu, says.

Six years ago, as he planned to pierce his tongue for the first time to mark Bisket Jatra, he hardly thought about the pain he would have to endure. “The pain is severe and one can’t intake food properly for almost 20 days” Jujunbhai shares his bitter experiences with Nepali daily newspapers.

Likewise, a tongue piercer should fast for three days and take only water, starting from a day before New Year ( as per Nepali Calendar). He cannot visit other people´s houses or touch any woman.

Then, why does he pierce his tongue with sharp needle frequently?

“Six years ago no one was ready to take the challenge of piercing his tongue. The centuries-old tradition of piercing one´s tongue was on the verge of decline and I had been worried for the same. Thus, regardless of suffering I would have to endure, I decided to pierce my tongue,” Jujunbhai discloses the causes that prompted him to pierce his tongue for the six consecutive years.

The search for a man who would ready to take the challenge of piercing his tongue during the festival started a month ago in the village. Since nobody seemed to succeed Jujunbhai, a group of religious leaders requested him to do so once again.

The tradition is that an individual of Bode village pierces his tongue with a 13-inch iron spike to mark occasion.

Legends have it that tongue-piercing signifies the conquest over demons and evil spirits, who were haunting communities, taking away their children and killing them.

Villagers say only someone having extraordinary courage and determination can endure the tongue-piercing. Jujunbhai also expresses doubts whether the tradition will get continued or not.

“I fear whether or not the tradition will continue. As long as I can, I will pierce my tongue. But others should also dare to follow my foot simply for the preservation and continuity of the century old tradition”, he says.

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