A week before my planned trek to Gosaikunda last month, I was in Kathmandu uncertain if the annual Janai Purnima festival at the holy lake had been cancelled as Nepal was still reeling from the second wave of the pandemic.
Nonetheless, I took my chances and was soon on my way to the lake revered by Hindus, Buddhists and animists alike to document the shaman festival that coincides with Janai Purnima.
On the way, I met people with conflicting information about the festival being held this year, and when I finally reached Gosainkunda, the owner of the lodge told me thousands of people would arrive soon.
“For three days, you can stay in the room. On the fourth day, you will have to move to a tent,” he said.
At Trishul Dhara on the morning of Janai Purnima, a female shaman arrived and started performing the rituals with a trident on which she tied a white and a red scarf. On her forehead, she wore a red cloth with cowrie shells sewn in. She took a dip in the freezing water of the lake and climbed up to Trisul Dhara, the source of the holy Gosaikunda. The water from here flows down to the Trisuli, Gandaki, and finally the Ganga in India.