A few minutes before the clock struck seven, a thumping drum, punctuated intermittently by sharper notes, travelled through the alleyways around the Patan Durbar Square on Tuesday evening. A crowd of nearly a hundred people had gathered at the Kartik Dabali, at the centre of which were four torches placed in a perfect square.
On the left corner was a band of four—two playing the dholak, a large drum, and two mujhuras, small rhythmic cymbals that clang together. The crowd jittered in anticipation, jostling to get to the front, with cell phones and cameras in hand. A cast of 12 emerged through the crowd, all of them in colourful garb, with multiple garlands and crowns, bowing to the images of Narsingha and Kali, among others. And so began the legendary dance.