One can see a bundle of green reeds with straw ropes erected at different places of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur today. People have hanged the effigy of Ghantakarna (a mythical being) to celebrate the Gathemangal.
In some areas of Patan, people hang small home-made dolls and other colorful ribbons. At midnight, people will carry the bundle of straw to nearby rivers as a symbol of death of demon.
Although the tradition is gradually vanishing, some children in each neighborhood are collecting donations from the passerby to make an effigy of the demon god. After erecting them in whole day, the effigy will be taken to the river and burnt representing the victory of locals over the demon god.
It is a Newari festival celebrating the defeat of the mythical demon Ghanta-karna ("bell-ears") or "Gatha-Mungal" in local Newari language. The festival is celebrated every year on Shrawan Krishna Chaturdashi.
According to the myth, the demon wore bell earrings in order to drown out the name of the god Shiva with their jingling. Attributed to him are acts of robbery, murder, and kidnapping of children. Experts hold the view that the festival is probably a relic of ancient demonolatry in the Kathmandu valley.
People wear iron rings on their fingers with a belief of protecting themselves from the demons and evil spirits. Wearing those rings is just a part of the festival; Gathemangal is a lot more than that and various rituals will see in different parts of the City.
Like all the festivals of Kathmandu, the festival of Gathemangal is an example of the victory of good over evil.
Sources: Various Newspapers
Photo Courtesy : Deshsanchar