Kathmandu, Apr. 16: Amid the growing fear of coronavirus (COVID-19), the tongue-piercing festival celebrated in Bode of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality was canceled this year. The tongue-piercing festival used to be held on the second day of the Nepali New Year, as part of Bisket Jatra celebration only in Bhaktapur district. The historical Malla era festival was cancelled during the third plague in 1855 for the first time, the locals of Bode said. According to the tradition, only the locals of Bode from the Shrestha clan can volunteer to get their tongue pierced. Juju Bhai Basan Shrestha, a resident of Bode, who had pierced his tongue for eight consecutive years, said that every year the festival is observed on the second day of Nepali New Year. “The residents of Bode and Thimi used to celebrate the tongue piercing and Sindur festival with much fanfare, but this year the event was canceled in the fear of COVID-19.” The tongue piercing festival is one of the famous festivals of the nation run by the community level bearing the entire financial burden. Shrestha said, “I have been taking part in the tongue piercing ceremony for the past nine years bearing all the pain just to preserve our age-old culture.” Buddha Krishna Baga Shrestha has been piercing his tongue since last two years after Juju Bhai refused to do so. Madhyapur Thimi Municipality had postponed both the festivals to prevent the virus outbreak. A meeting of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality took the decision to defer the other biggest festival of Sindur Jatra and tongue piercing festival of Bode, including Bisket Jatra. It is believed that late king Jagajyoti Malla started the festival and it had been popular since then. Govinda Tandon, cultural expert, said history shows that the annual ceremony of the festival was cancelled during the time of disaster and other pandemic and it was continued after the pandemic came under control. The government has enforced the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 since March 24. Along with the beginning of the New Year, the people of the Kathmandu Valley celebrate A series of famous festivals and jatras. As fear about COVID-19 continues to grip the entire world, many famous festivals, including the chariot procession of the White Machhindranath, Bisket Jatra, Bajrayogini festival, tongue piercing and Sindur festival have been cancelled. As a preventive measure, the government has been enforcing month-long lockdown, restricting people’s movement to break the chain of the virus infection.