AP PHOTOS: Nepal's masked dancers mark the end of monsoon

In this Oct. 16, 2018, photo, a Nepalese butcher gets ready to sacrifice a buffalo in Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, dancers pose for photographs wearing the mask of god Betal in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 25, 2018, photo, dancers from left, Dinesh Dhaubanjar, 23, finance officer, Prem Jung Nala, 31, teacher and Bibek Machamasi, wood carver pose for photographs without the mask of god Betal in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, dancers pose for photographs wearing masks of god Kawancha in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 26, 2018, photo, students Ukesk Chikanbanjar, right, and Rohit Rajchal pose for photographs without the mask of god Bhot Bhairabh in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 16, 2018, photo, young mask dancers help to divide the meat of a sacrificial buffalo to distribute among the dancers in Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say.(AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 22, 2018, photo, mask dancers perform during Indra Jatra festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 26, 2018, photo, Bibesh Dandakhya, 27, a trainer at Red cross, poses for photographs without the mask of goddess Mahalaxmi in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 26, 2018, photo, 10-year-old Salik Suwal, right, and 11-year-old Pujan Machamasi pose for a photograph without their masks of god Kawancha in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, a dancer poses for photographs wearing goddess Kumari mask in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 26, 2018, photo, students Ukesk Chikanbanjar, right, and Rohit Rajchal pose for photographs without the mask of god Bhot Bhairabh in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 16, 2018, photo, masks and drums used for dances in Indra Jatra Festival are hung in a room at Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 27, 2018, photo, business man Hari Ram Twanabasu, 35, poses for photographs without the mask of goddess Mahakali in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, a dancer poses for photographs wearing mask of goddess Mahakali in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 10, 2018, photo, mask dancer Salik Suwal, 10, studies at his residence in Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 10, 2018, photo, Bibek Machamasi, mask dancer and wood carver works at a workshop in Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 16, 2018, photo, mask dancers cut the meat of a buffalo which was sacrificed in Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept, 28, 2018, photo, mask dancers perform during the last day of Indra Jatra festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, a dancer poses for photographs wearing goddess Mahalaxmi mask in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 16, 2018, photo, masks used for dances in Indra Jatra Festival are hung in a room at Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 11, 2018, photo, mask dancer and web designer Rakesh Twanabasu, 24, works at his office in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Oct. 16, 2018, photo, young mask dancers help to divide the meat of a sacrificial buffalo to distribute among the dancers in Bhaktapur, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say.(AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 25, 2018, photo, dancers from left, Dinesh Dhaubanjar, 23, finance officer, Prem Jung Nala, 31, teacher and Bibek Machamasi, wood carver pose for photographs without the mask of god Betal in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, dancers pose for photographs wearing the mask of god Betal in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 22, 2018, photo, a mask dancer performs during Indra Jatra festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, dancers pose for photographs wearing mask of god Bhot Bhairabh in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 23, 2018, photo, dancers pose for photographs wearing mask of god Bhot Bhairabh in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
In this Sept. 27, 2018, photo, Ramesh Nala, 28, a lawyer poses for photographs without the mask of goddess Kumari in Kathmandu, Nepal. For centuries, Nepal has celebrated the Indra Jatra festival of masked dancers, which officially begins the month-long festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalyan nation. The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off this performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

KATHMANDU, Nepal — For centuries, Nepal has celebrated its masked dancers, who officially begin monthlong festivities in the Hindu-dominated Himalayan nation.

Indra Jatra, an eight-day festival celebrated mostly by the Newar community, the native residents of Kathmandu, is also known as the festival of deities and demons. It especially honors Indra, the Hindu god of rain, to mark the end of the monsoon. The masks and dances can be fearsome, entertaining and awe-inspiring, depending on the performers' movements.

A child revered as the Living Goddess Kumari is pulled around Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, in a wooden chariot, families gather for feasts and at shrines to light incense for the dead, and men and boys in colorful masks and gowns representing Hindu deities dance to the beat of traditional music and devotees' drums, drawing tens of thousands of spectators to the city's old streets.

The dancers, who come from a variety of backgrounds, pull off their performance every year despite minimal financial support from the government and other sources, they say.

"It is not only about the dancers, we also need to do many rituals before and after the festivals, but the money and support we are provided by the government cannot be compared to what we spend," said Narendra Maharjan, a member of the Devi Mask dance crew. He added: "I remember many mask dances in my childhood, which have stopped now because of these reasons and we fear that one day our dance will also stop."

Some dancers, feeling they are not adequately supported, are debating whether to continue next year.

Rajan Maharjan, a former guardian of the Living Goddess Kumari, recalled a September 2008 riot that broke out after Nepal's then-Maoist government cut funding and subsidies for Indra Jatra and other festivals.

"The Nepalese government shows and sells our festivals and cultures to the world for tourism, but us being the preserver, what do we get?" Maharjan said.

Others, though, are determined to keep the tradition alive. Walking barefoot in heavy masks and jewelry in the oldest part of Kathmandu, the dancers say they hope to get financial support so they can pass on an ancient festival to the next generation.

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