goddesses and eight cemeteries. Hence the name chosen by Mary Slusserfor her book on the Cultural History of the Kathmandu Valley, namely, "
." III. Ritual Procedure To start with, the participating dancers must go to a temple of Vajrasattvaand take Refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. They bow to theirGuru's feet and make some offerings. Then, to the accompaniment of elaborate music, the guru instructs them in the art of dancing before thetemple of Nrityeshvara, the Lord of Dancing. Then, on New Moon Day, theparticipants must observe the Uposadha fasting ceremony for a full day andthen, treating them as eight mother goddesses and other deities numberingthirteen in total, the guru performs his Sadhana and rituals in the temple.Each participant must visualize themselves as one of the deities of Astamatrika and engage themselves in meditation. According to KulapadaAcharya, the participants who play the role of Astamatrika must purify theirbody, speech and mind and must refrain from talking impure foods, and therituals should contain cereals and vegetarian items. So there should be nokilling of animals for sacrificial purposes.
Musical instruments and Charyagita The use of Charyagita is another exceptional feature of this dance. Unlikeother secular songs, the Charyagitas have a spiritual significance which isesoteric in nature and cannot be fully comprehended by the uninitiated. Thecharya dance and charyagita have to be performed and sung simultaneously.As stated earlier, the musical instruments used in this dance are called"Ponga" and are supposed to be heavenly instruments, and the sound theyproduce thus has a spiritual significance. Visitors are often astounded anddelighted to see such a spiritual heritage in living form. But unfortunatelysuch heritages in these days are really endangered.
Mask Creation The Astamatrika dance is also a ceremony that is ritually marked by a set of masks, which on this occasion are worn and danced with. These masks havea continual life-force or energy. They are focal points of the Astamatrikadance ceremonies performed during the Dashain festival.
The 13 deities represented during these Astamatrika dances are as follows: