Saturday Features

Celebrating a century

- Prakash Chandra Timilsena, Kathmandu

Jan 26, 2019-

Calmly seated in a chariot pulled by her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, Mayju Maharjan observes her fifth janko—a rare ritual, called Mahadivya Ratharohan, where an elder is celebrated for completing 108 years, eight months, eight days, eight hours, and eight seconds around the sun. 

While her descendants relish the festivities with loud conversations and laughter, Maharjan sits with her eyes closed, only occasionally opening them to inspect her surroundings. The lines and folds that runs throughout her face remains as a testament of her more than a century long journey into life. But since losing her 

younger sister less than a year ago, her memories too, seem to have been betraying her. 

Married at the age of five, she gave birth to five sons and three daughters, of whom only her fifth son Das Narayan Maharjan remains alive. But her present family of more than 145 members does not remember taking her to the hospital even once until last year. Even in her old age, she is still particular about her diet—her favourites being boiled eggs and taichin rice.

Her memories are mostly from her younger days, when she used to go to Sundhara in Kathmandu with her friends to drink lu yu la: (gold water), and traveling to Sitapaila to feed her ducks. She still vividly remembers the great earthquake in 1934 when a part of her home at Basantapur was destroyed. Everything else is a blur. 

On the day of her fifth janko, she wore a traditional Newari bridal attire, her hair adorned with a single peacock feather. She was pampered with the traditional manicure and pedicure—her hands and feet painted with ala, a bright red dye. After the extensive ceremony is over, her youngest great-great grandchild stands beside her for a photograph and she gives out her rare but charming smile. 

Mayju Maharjan performing a puja around the mandap at her fifth janko ceremony.

Maharjan with her son Das Narayan and her nephew.

Her citizenship incorrectly mentions her birth year as 1968 BS (1911 AD), which was supposed to be 1966 BS (1909 AD).

She chooses a boiled egg, her favourite, while tasting from the feast offered to her.

She is welcomed by showering flowers and rice grains inside her home after the puja ceremony.

Maharjan surrounded by her great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.Adorned with ala—a red dye, a form of traditional pedicure. Warming her hands before the ceremony starts

Her descendants pulling her chariot and parading her around town.

Sprinkled with holy water during the ceremony.

Maharjan with her youngest great-great grandchild.

Published: 26-01-2019 10:11

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