The Limbu community in Taplejung, Nepal, is celebrating the Kakphekwa Tangnam festival today, coinciding with the regional observance of Maghe Sankranti. This cultural event, distinct to the Limbu community, embraces unique Limbu customs and marks a significant day in their calendar.
Kakphekwa Tangnam, rooted in the Limbu language, translates to the blossoming of the Chaanp plant, known in Nepali as Magnolia champaca, and the word 'Tangnam' refers to a festival. This day is also a momentous occasion as it signifies the commencement of the Limbu new year. Celebrations extend beyond the Limbu community to include Rai, Yakkha, Sunuwar, and other Kirat sub-castes, highlighting the festival's widespread cultural impact.
Customary practices on this day involve indulging in various types of yams, tubers, and sweet potatoes, which hold historical significance. According to Rudra Kumar Liwang from Mikwakhola Rural Municipality, these foods are not just dietary staples but are embedded in the community's folklore. The Mundhum, a sacred scripture of the Kirats, narrates a legend where the Limbu ancestors resorted to these wild yams and tubers during a famine.
Marking the onset of the Yele Tangbe (Dong) or the Limbu new year 5084, the festivities begin with traditional rituals. Saroj Kangliwa, the district secretary of Yakthung Chumlung, shares that the day starts with a ceremonial bath, followed by the application of a 'tika' mark made from wild yam paste on the forehead, symbolizing blessings and new beginnings. This festival not only celebrates the turn of the year but also commemorates the rich cultural heritage and enduring traditions of the Limbu community.