Shrestha Pierces His Tongue For 8th Time, Giving Continuity To Bode’s Culture

Buddha Krishna Baga Shrestha of Bode, Madhyapur Thimi, has pierced his tongue for the eighth time to commemorate the tongue piercing festival held on Thursday. Aiming to preserve the dying culture, the 48-year-old has been performing the tongue piercing act for the last seven years.
Something like splitting one’s tongue is a painful endeavor, and Shrestha has been enduring it for all these years happily both as a homage to the age-old culture and as a campaign to revive the once famous festival.
Like previous years, the man pierced the right side of his tongue with a 10-inch and a three-line-thick long iron needle on Thursday. The onlookers gave ghastly sigh of disbelief and wonder watching Shrestha split his tongue with the implement without showing any iota of pain.
With the thick iron needle sticking out of his tongue, he then visited different localities of Bode carrying half-moon shape Mahadeep, which is made by using 13 sticks of Nigalo (a type of bamboo).
Shrestha is now the only person who has been furthering the legacy of the dying culture. The festival has a significant role in Newa culture as tongue piercing marks the end of chariot pulling festival. As the chariot carrying Lord Ganesh roams across different parts of the city, it finally comes to a grinding halt at Bhagutole and finally ends with tongue piercings.
The iron needle is then taken to the Mahalaxmi Temple and the hole it leaves in the tongue is filled by mud of the same temple. The needle is then kept at Ganesh Temple’s door located beside the Nrityanath Temple.
Shrestha can speak and eat only after the end of the ritual. Before partaking in the festival, tradition guides Shrestha to stay away from animals and women three days ahead of the event while also fasting.
After continuously piercing his tongue from 2005 to 2008, Shrestha took a nine-year long hiatus passing the baton to another tongue piercer Juju Bhai Basan. Basan continued to lead the festival until refusing to doso in 2017, after which Shrestha rejoined.
The festival was cancelled last year in light of the raging pandemic. Apart from this, the historical Malla era festival has suffered similar setback during the third plague of 1855 for the first time, according to the locals of Bode.
As per the age-old tradition, only the locals of Bode from the Shrestha clan can volunteer to get their tongue pierced. It is believed that the festival began from the time of King Jagajyoti Malla.
The organising committee has kept records of those who volunteered to pierce their tongues for the last 100 years. The record reveals one Harka Narsingh Shrestha as being the first to get his tongue pierced. He continued it for 22 consecutive years.
With its long and illustrious history, the locals of Bode eagerly await the festival and celebrate it with much fervour every year.