Nepal's feared demon dancer in action again

Kathmandu's feared Demon Dancer performed again after a two-year break at this year's Indra Jatra festival, an annual celebration that marks the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the harvest.

The "Lakhe" is meant to protect the city from evil, but Laxman Ranjit, who comes from a long line of Lakhe dancers, broke with a centuries-old tradition and did not dance for two years as he mourned the loss of his wife and mother.

His wife died in the 2015 earthquake that devastated swathes of Nepal. A year later, the dancer's mother died, leaving him alone to raise his son.

"My wife died and I was mourning for a year... The year after that, my mother passed away," he said.

Now, Ranjit has once again put on the huge red mask to become the Lakhe, a feared demon that is meant to scare away any evil spirits that threaten Kathmandu.

"Laxman... has feelings, emotions, and a fierceness that cannot be substituted by anyone else," said Nepali Bipin Tamang, 26. "I know he can make the kids scream like no one else can. It is amazing to see him back again."

The Lakhe was first brought to Kathmandu by a powerful king, so the myth goes. The king made the flesh-eating demon promise he would not harm the city's residents but instead serve as its guardian.

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'Nepal's feared demon dancer in action again'. Print Edition | Subscribe