The festivals of the 'four months' (caturmasa) stand apart from other festive occasions in Kathmandu (Nepal) in their overriding concern with death. These festivals are sacrificial feasts, dealing with the riddle of life and death in the Hindu-Buddhist context of South Asia. Caturmasa festivals are collective, supralocal affairs, crossing the border between the upper and the lower part of the town; they involve the whole town of Kathmandu, and the king of Nepal, who is both sacrificer and victim. The two main themes of the celebrations of death are sacrifice and kingship.
The late A.W. (Bert) van den Hoek (1951-2001) had over twenty years of research experience in South Asia, before passing away after an accident in Mumbai, India. At the time, he was conducting follow-up field research that would have led to his magnum opus, a comprehensive analysis of Newar festivals, rituals and myths, entitled The Ritual Structure of Kathmandu.