This film depicts the Gonya festival among the Tamang ethnic group in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal. The celebration for Gonya revolves around the performance of the bonbo, an equivalent for the more universal term “shaman” in Tamang culture. The film consists of three parts: The first part shows how the Gonya is incorporated within the overarching tradition of Janai Purnima, a Hindu religious festival, and the way it is celebrated locally in a unique collaboration involving shamans. The second part shows how shamanistic beliefs are experienced and maintained communally by focusing on a young shaman and his family holding a small ritual in a village during the Gonya. The third part follows a group of shamans led by one master shaman on the Gonya day, and demonstrates how they create a “collective effervescence” in this religious festival.
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Haklak identifies himself as an anthropologist, a musician, and potentially a filmmaker. He majored in Russian studies at Exeter University in the UK, and has a Master’s degree in anthropology from Hanyang University in South Korea. He is currently working towards a Ph.D in anthropology at Seoul National University. Haklak is interested in the ways in which shamanism interacts with modernity, change and continuity, and cultural processes of extinction and revival.