Nakkatayya of Varanasi
Festival and fairs in Varanasi keep the city alive throughout the year. They provide a new lease of life to the city. The hustle and bustle the city becomes a part of which invokes pride, contentment and well-being in the people. Though each month of the year has three to four festivals, the fervour and excitement keep growing. In fact, with each celebration, comes the opportunity to rediscover tradition. The rituals and customs associated with them take us back to our roots. While it is not fair to rate or compare one festival with another, there are some festivals which people wait anxiously to celebrate it. The Nakkatayya of Varanasi is one such festival. It is usually observed in October or November just a few days before Dusshera.
Nakkatayya, which means the slitting of a nose, is associated with the great epic of Ramayana. During this festival, artists reenact the episode from the Ramayana where Laxman slits the nose of Surpanakha, sister of Ravana, the demon king. This drama is staged in the city of Chetganj. Hundreds and thousands of people attend it. A fair is held with this festival called as ‘Lakkhi Mela.’ The name is derived because of the one lakh people that witness it every year.
The main theme of the stage show of Nakkatayya of Chetganj is based on the episode of Lord Ram’s exile. The drama narrates the story where Lord Ram is serving his exile with his brother, Laxman, and wife, Sita. When Surpanakha, Ravana’s sister, sees Laxman, she gets infatuated with Laxman’s charm. In order to attract him, she tries to seduce him. Being a man of principal and intolerance, Laxman gets angry and slits her nose. When Ravana comes to know about it, he disguises as a hermit and kidnaps Sita.
Before the drama is staged, a colourful procession is carried out, which is accompanied by thousands of people. A fair is also held in Chetganj that double ups the excitement. The happiness in the face of the citizens of Varanasi brought by the Nakkatayya episode is indeed admiring and worth taking a lesson that victory always triumphs over evil.