Introduction to Nakkataiya Mela
Nakkataiya/Nakataiya/Nakataia or Nak Kataiya is an annual procession that takes place in different areas of Varanasi every year. The term Nakatiya means nasal amputation and is specifically related to an incident from the Indian epic Ramayan. The Mela usually takes place around midnight between 12 AM to 3 AM after the play of Ramleela where the Nakatiya scene is imitated.
History & Legend related to Nakkataiya Mela
Nakkataiya Mela was initially started by Baba Fatehram in the Chetganj area of Varanasi in 1887. Nakkatiya Depicts the scene from the Ramayan where Meenakshi AKA Shurpanakha the sister of Ravan stumbles upon Lord Ram in the forest of Panchvati. She ends up being mesmerized by his charm of Ram & expresses her desire to coitus with him but Ram being loyal to Sita politely denied her proposal. Shurpanakha kept insisting and to get rid of her Ram asked her to pursue Laxman.
When Shurpanakha tried to pursue Laxman, he also denied her and tried to get away from her. This dual rejection made her angry and she tried to attack Sita to take out her frustration. Enraged Laxman stopped her in between and cut off her nose & ears out of anger. This event is one of the most important parts of Ramayan as it sets the plot for the further story where Sita is abducted by Ravan and Ravan is killed by Ram.
In 1887 when Fatehram started this Mela he had a very different purpose behind it. In the late 19th century, India was still under British rule & the urge to get freedom was growing among the citizens but it was very hard to unite everyone as protests were not allowed. Baba Fatehram got a unique idea to execute the impossible. He got permission for a religious procession and organized it with the help of wealthy merchants.
In the procession, tableaus full of metaphors and sarcasm were presented to hint at the atrocity of the Britishers and aware the locals to stand up for their rights and freedom. The Nakkataiya Mela was also attended by Britishers but they couldn’t do anything as it was related to religion. Since then the Mela is organized every year.
Later on the Nakkataiya Mela was regularly attended by freedom fighters. Late Chandra Shekhar Azad used to organize the annual meet-up of freedom fighters around the time of Nakkataiya which was attended by rebels like Bhagat Singh, Manmath Nath Gupta, and Sachindra Nath Sanyal to name a few. These rebels also enjoyed the sarcastic tableaus.
Fast forward to today you can expect tableaus on different social issues and reforms. The Nakkataiya of Chetganj has been attended by more than a lakh of people(speculated) every year and is famously called one of the Lakka Melas that one can attend in Varanasi. You can also witness the tableaus depicting the different scenes from the epic Ramayan.
Location of Nakkataiya Mela
The Nakkataiya Mela is a procession of tableaus that circles the city. The most famous one starts from the Chetganj area and the other few are organized from Choti Pyari, Jaitpura, Aurangabad, Shivpur, Kashipura, Ardali Bazar, etc.
Date of Nakkataiya Mela
Nakkataiya Mela of Chetganj takes place on the occasion of Karva Chauth while the Nakkatiya of all areas falls on different days as per the Ramleela schedule of the respective area. This year Nakkataiya Mela of Chetganj will take place on the night of 13 October 2022.