Of the 600 Newari households in Ward 21 of Khokana, Shahis inhabit just around 25 houses. Bajracharyas and Shakyas reside in a few. But the vast majority of the houses are occupied by Maharjans and Dangols.Ward chairman Rabindra Maharjan informs that these Dangol and Maharjan households of Khokana do not celebrate Dashain. “I do not know the exact reason. But legend has it that in ancient times, Khokana was inhabited by Buddhists, who adhered to the principle of non-violence and refrained from slaughtering animals. That’s why they did not celebrate Dashain.” According to the ward chair, there is also an ancient belief that gods and goddesses come to Khokana looking for a peaceful place during Dashain when animals are slaughtered in many temples at other places.
“Throughout Dashain, the people of Khokana celebrate Sikali Jatra instead,” he adds. But although they do not put tika and jamara, they take yoghurt and visit relatives. They also invite guests between the days of Panchami and Saptami. Goddess Durga is not worshipped in Khokana, but on the day of Nawami, traditional musical instruments are.
Buddhi Maharjan, 69, shares a related folklore. “After toiling hard in their farms, Khokana’s farmers used to celebrate a jatra on the day of Janai Purnima. But food was not readily available on Janai Purnima in those days. So they started celebrating the jatra during the time of Dashain.” That jatra is known as Sikali Jatra, which the locals celebrate with pomp and splendor. The ward office has earmarked Rs 100,000 for the celebrations this year. Earlier, the Finance Ministry used to allocate budget for the occasion, but it has not released funds this year.