Sakela/sakenwa is the main festival of Kirat Rai community, also it called worship of land (Bhumi Puja) which is celebrated twice a year distinguished by two names Ubhauli and Udhauli. Sakenwa Ubhauli is celebrated during Baisakh Purnima (full moon day in the month of Baishak) and Sakenwa/Sakela Udhauli is celebrated during the full moon day in the month of Mangshir.
Ubhauli puja is the worshipping of weather or nature and wishing of enough crops. Nakchung (Chief Priest) prays for the better crops and better weather for the plant the crops in this Ubhauli. Udhauli means going down; It is believed that from this day the winter season starts. So people, birds and animal migrate from cold regions to warmer regions as well as harvesting the crops at this time. This kind of migration occurs twice in a year. The celebration of migrating downwards during the season of Mangshir (Nov-Dec) is called “Udhauli” and the celebration of migrating upwards during the season of Baisakh (April-May) is called “Ubhauli”. This has been going on since the dawn of the mankind when the Kirat people were hunters and gatherers which time is immemorial.
In this time people gather and dance with their own style and with their own attire. In this festive people dance in a circle round and main leader called Silli Mangpa and Silli Mangma, which style they do all followers do the same in sense of traditional crops planting starting to end. According to the Holy book of Kirat ‘Mundhum’, a year of 365 days is divided into two phases Ubhauli (going up) and Udhauli (going down). The birds migrate from one place to other in these periods as well, in old days people used to move uphill and downhill during these seasons.
According to Kirat Mythology Paruhang lived in the Heaven. One day he saw a beautiful girl named Sumnima walking in the earth and fell in love with her. He made a beautiful comb and gifted it to Sumnima. They both got married. After Sumnima gave birth to four children Paruhang left his family to live in the hut on the bank of Dudhkoshi River and did not return for a long time. One day while searching for food Sumnima found a creeper. She tasted the creeper and found it to be full of power and happiness. She then made a Buti out of it. The Buti has high power. Whenever anybody put the Buti on he/she used to talk only truth.
One day all of sudden Paruhang came back. He tried to console Sumnima but she did not believe him. So in order to get the truth from him, Sumnima asked him to put on the Buti. With the help of Buti Sumnima knew that Paruhang was looking at the heaven and earth from the top of Chomolongma (Mt. Everest). She also knew that he was meditating and visited entire universe, he then promised never to leave her again. This made Sumnima very happy. To express her joy she started to dance.
The dance of Sumnima became the great Sakewa Dance. To protect this tradition people dance to find their true love of their life.
The Sakewa dance has become very popular in the cities of Nepal, particularly among the younger generation. Kirant Rai celebrating this festival widely outside of Nepal as well especially in Sikkim, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. However, the real flavour of the dance can only be seen in the eastern hills of Nepal. This interest in Sakewa has helped to spread the Nepali culture all across the world. And this festival brings communities together as well as they share their pains with each other that brings peace on their mind (healing).