Browsing articles in "Baisakh (Apr-May)"

Bisket Jatra

The festival of Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur, Nepal

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Bisket Jatra is a nine-day festival coinciding with the Nepali New year. It takes place in the medieval town of Bhaktapur. The festival has been immensely popular since the Lichhavi period.

Since the Bisket begins in the last days of the Nepalese year and ends in the beginning days of the New Year it is regarded as the New year festival as well. During the seven days of the festival chariots of God Bhairava and Goddess Bhadrakali are pulled with lot of merriment within the town limits. At a place called Lyasinkhel, a lyasin or a tall pole is erected with two long embroidered cloths hanging from it. These cloths represent two evil serpents who in the past had troubled the royal family by mysteriously killing every suitor to the princess at night. Ultimately a brave prince with the blessings of Goddess Bhadrakali came along and killed them even as they appeared from the nostrils of the sleeping princess and began to enlarge themselves. Thus, to show the townspeople the cause of previous suitors’ death they were hung from the pole and at present the cloths represent them.

The festival used to be called “Bisyau” jatra, which means the festival celebrated in the memory of slaying of serpents. In the passage of time the term changed from ‘Bisyau’ to Bisket Jatra.

In Madhyapur Thimi and Bode, as part of Bisket Jatra or maybe a variation of this festival called Sindoor Jatra is observed. This festival is celebrated by youths participating in a parade carrying god’s images and smearing vermilion powder to each other.

Tongue piercing tradition

Juju Bhai Basha pierced his tongue for the consecutive third year amid a religious function organised on the sixth day of this year’s Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur on Friday (April 15, 2011).

Juju Bhai, 30, who was fasting from the third day of the festival seemed calm when he got his tongue pierced by a blacksmith with one feet long sharp iron spike on the premises of Pancho Ganesh temple in Bode, where the festival is observed.

In the beginning of the ceremony, the blacksmith prayed to all the deities and penetrated the spike that was purified by dipping in mustard oil a few days ago. Juju Bhai worshipped at all the local shrines holding the long needle in his tongue.

Finally, he took out the spike in front of Pancho Ganesh and put the holy soil in the pierced tongue. According to the tradition, the tongue-piercing person has to organise a feast for the villagers in the end of the day.

Nepali New Year

Overview of Pashupatinath temple, near Kathman...

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The Nepali New Year or the Bikram Sambat (B.S.) New Year is celebrated on the first of Baisakh. It generally falls between 12-15th of April. The new year of many other South and Southeast Asian calendars also falls around the same time. It marks the beginning of Spring. Given it’s diversity, Nepal celebrates many other ‘New Years’ at other times of the year such as the Nepal Sambat (falls during November), Lhosar to mention a few. As in many countries, the New Year and is observed as an official holiday in Nepal. It is marked by parties, family gatherings, the exchange of good wishes and participation in rituals to ensure good fortune in the coming year.

The Bikram Sambat calendar derives its name from the original king Bikramaditya of Ujjain. After the rise of the Rana oligarchs in Nepal, Bikram Sambat came into unofficial use along with the official Shaka Sambat for quite some time. They discontinued Shaka Sambat in its 1823rd year and replaced it with Bikram Samwat for official use since then to date. Bikram Sambat came into official use in its 1958th year.

On this day, devotees take a dip in the holy Bagmati River at Pashupatinath temple. Pilgrims also visit other religious spots. In Bhaktapur, which is 15 Kilometers east of Kathmandu, the New Year celebrations takes place with an added importance as the ‘Bisket Jatra or Festival of Bisket’. During Bisket Jatra a tall wooden ceremonial poll called ‘yosin’ is erected in one of the main squares. This festival commemorates the great battle of Mahabharata and the wooden pole symbolizes victory. After two days, images of the god Bhairab and his female counterpart Bhadra are enshrined in two large greatly decorated chariots and pulled through crowds of cheering on-lookers. When the chariot reaches the city center, a tug-of-war between the inhabitants of the two neighborhoods takes place. The winners of a tug-of-war are considered blessed with good fortune for the coming year. This festival goes on for nine days. New Year is celebrated with added aroma in Sankhu, some 20 km east of Kathmandu. Both Hindus and Buddhist worship the Bajra Jogini godess. During New Year, the deity’s image is put on palanquin and carried around the town with a huge colorful procession.

Obama‚ Clinton wish New Year to Nepal: Nepali New Year 2068 B.S. (April 14, 2011)

President of the U.S. Barack Obama and Secretary of States Hillary Rodham Clinton have extended the New Year wishes to Nepal and the Nepali people living across the globle.
Issuing a statement on behalf of President Obama on Monday, Clinton said the New Year is an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate national unity and goodwill in Nepal, and for all Nepalis everywhere to gather and exchange good wishes.
Nepal is marking New Year 2068 of its official Bikram Sambat calendar on Thursday.
“As Nepal’s steadfast friend, the United States hopes that the coming year will see fulfillment of the peace process and a new constitution that will keep Nepal on the path toward progress and prosperity,” she said, adding that the U.S. is looking forward to continuing its work together in the years ahead.
“May the people of Nepal and all Nepalis around the world enjoy a safe and happy holiday. Naya Barshako Shubha-Kamana!”

Events planned for this New Year

Nepali New Year to help benefit Japanese victims

Machhindranath Jatra

This historically significant festival celebrates Machhindra, the guardian deity of Nepal. Ceremonies commences on the 1st of Baisakh, when the idol is bathed in holy water in the Bagmati. It is then taken to Patan, mounted on a large rath or car and a shrine is placed with carvings and flowers. The whole procession may take up to a week and the idol of Machhindra is displayed in Patan for a month, before taken back to the Bagmati and placed back in its home temple in Kathmandu. The day that it is returned is referred to as Gudrijhar and the blanket of the idol is symbolically shaken to reveal its emptiness to represent contentment, despite poverty.

Mata Tirtha Aunsi

Stone carvings, called Chaityas, seen even in ...

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Mata Tirtha Aunsi is the equivalent of mother’s day and is a special occasion in Nepal. This is one of the widely celebrated festivals that falls on the first month, Baisakh (April/May), of the Nepali Year. It is called Mata Tirtha Aunsi as it falls on a new moon night. In Nepalese context Mother’s Day is celebrated day that brings families gather for lunch, exchange their love, whilst mother accept tokens of their children’s appreciation and fully support. This festival is view in the commemoration and respect of the mother.

Each household bustles with activities on this day and everyone, regardless of age participate. Unlike other festivals there are not much religious ceremonies on this day. Even small children on this day dig into their savings to buy gifts for their mothers. If the sons and daughters are living separately, they make it a point to come to their mother’s place with presents, delicacies and spend time with her. As always, mothers bless their sons and daughters for long life, good health and prosperity. On this day, married daughters also come to their mother’s house and celebrate the day with offerings of fruits and sweets. In Newari communities, married daughters offer eggs, fruits, raksi (alcohol), wo (made from black lentil), curd & gifts to their mothers. These items are known as Sagan in Newari community.

There’s a saying in Nepal – ‘Janani Janmabhumishya Swargadapi Gariyashi’ means that mother and the motherland place is celestial than the heaven too.

On this day people who don’t have mothers, go to Mata Tirtha Pilgrimage. The place is located south west of central Kathmandu. In this pilgirmage, there are two pools where thousands of devotees flock in high reverence of their deceased mothers. After the holy bath and worship, they donate some items with money to the Brahman priests there who are around that place that day citing religious booklets. They also give some goods and money to the poor and needy people. An ancient scripture believes that if someone makes a donation on this day, it automatically reaches the heavens where the deceased live and they will be blessed for the lifetime from her.

There’s a story that in the ancient times, this place was home to many a cow-herdsmen. One of the cow-herdsman was so depressed by his mother’s death that he went to pray and make offering at one of the pond in the forest on this day. Miraculously, his mother’s face appeared and her hand accepted the offering so that it is known as Mata Tirtha, where many hope to see their mother’s face.

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