Water is regarded as a divine element rather than just an essential utility for the indigenous Newa people of Kathmandu. Kumar, the rain child represented by water drops, is believed to fall onto the earth after many months of gestation in the cloud mother goddess.
To this day, the Newa people celebrate Sithi Nakha (originally called Kumar Shasthi) to celebrate the sixth day of rain baby Kumar’s arrival on earth. Sithi Nakha is celebrated with vigor on the sixth day of the waxing moon in the month of Jestha in the lunar calendar, which usually falls in late May.
Later on, as Hinduism took root in the valley, Kumar was assimilated into the Hindu pantheon as the youthful spear-bearing warrior god, son of Shiva and Parvati.
Sanskritist and art historian Professor Gautama Vajracharya says Shasthi is also a goddess symbolising the sixth day – the number of days after which a newly born child overcomes the risk of neonatal death. To mark this milestone, Newa families traditionally mark it with the Byenkegu ceremony ta six days after the birth of a child.
Siddhi Laxmi, the tantric form of goddess Shasthi, is venerated in the Bhaktapur’s imposing Nyatapola temple in Bhaktapur. No one except the designated priests are allowed to see the image of this esoteric deity.
The Newa have always believed that children are gods, and Kumar literally means young man, or prince. The wooden image of Kumar housed in its Dyo Chhen in the old part of Kathmandu is painted red. In Newa language, a young baby is known as Hyaun Macha (hyaun = red, macha = child).
Child god Kumar, also known as Sithi Dyo is offered ritual worship by devotees on Sithi Nakha. The next day, a Kumar Jatra procession is held in which he is carried around the neighborhood with much fanfare.
Kumar rides the peacock, a bird that remains dormant in the previous months during aestivation, but comes out in the open as pre-monsoon showers lash the Valley. Its master, Kumar, is the harbinger of monsoon rains.