Browsing articles in "Chaitra (Mar-Apr)"

Ram Nawami

Vishvamitra looks as Rama breaks the bow, winn...

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Ram was a king of Ayodhya in ancient India. In Hinduism, he is considered to be the seventh Avatar of Vishnu and a lila-avatara described in Bhagavata Purana. Lord Ram is one of the most popular figures and deities in Vaisnavism and its religious scriptures in South and Southeast Asia. The majority of details concerning Ram come from the Ramayana, one of the two great epics of India. Born as the eldest son of Kaushalya and Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, Ram is referred to within Hinduism as Maryada Purushottam, literally the Perfect Man of Lord of Restrictions. Ram is the husband of Sita, who Hindus consider to be an Avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.

The Ram Nawami Festival honours the birthday of Lord Ram (March/April) and is celebrated in great style throughout Nepal. The Janaki mandir of Janakpur Temple is alive from 4am until late at night. Janakpur lies in the south-eastern part of Nepal.

In the elaborately decorated temple vedic rituals and havans (special offerings and mantras to a sacred fire) are performed and leaflets relating to Lord Ram are distributed. Discourses on his life and teachings are delivered and loud processions march through the streets. Devotees chant sacred mantras, read excerpts of the famous Hindu epic the Ramayana, greet each other with “Sri Ram” or “Jai Ram ji ko” and consume only fruit and milk for nine days. It is the time for Hindus to saturate themselves with the gentle and virtuous spirit of Lord Ram.
A sunrise puja (traditional Hindu prayers and offerings) is planned at the temple around the idol of Lord Ram. As Hindu texts depict his birth at exactly 12 noon, the height of celebrations occurs at midday. In the evening the temple hosts a performance of the Ramayana, sung to traditional Indian classical music.

The Ram Mandir, a pagoda-style temple built in 1882, is located south-east of the Janaki Mandir. On Ram Nawami this temple gets thousands of visitors.
For the devotees of Kathmandu and other part of the Nepal there are number of Ram Mandir located in different locations.

Excerpt from eKantipur – April 12, 2011

“Ram Nawami, the birthday celebration of Shree Ram – a divine figure in Hinduism, is being observed throughout the country with full religious devotion and gaiety on Tuesday. The festival falls on the ninth day of waxing moon in the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar.
Hindu devotees celebrate this festival by observing fast, singing devotional songs and offering prayers in their homes and nearby temples.
Thousands of devotees, including from India, have flocked to Janakpurdham to offer their prayers at the Ram Janaki Temple in Dhanusha district to mark the festival. Ancient Janakpur was the birthplace of Sita, the better half of Lord Ram.
Devotees have organised special religious functions and bhajan (hymns) sessions.
The government has declared today a public holiday to mark the festival.”

Chaitra Dashain

Kathmandu.

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Bada Dashain celebrated in honor of Goddess Durga around early October is the most important festival for Nepalis. Meanwhile, Chaitra Dashain takes place exactly six months prior to Bada Dashain. Chaitra Dashain used to be the original day of the grand Dashain festival, but because people got their stomachs upset after feasting on spicy food during this season, the grand celebration was shifted to a cooler season. But the religious fervor is still evident in the celebrations of the day.

Chaitra Dashain also marks the start of rath (chariot) festival. The chariot festival of God Seto Machhindranath, the lord of compassion begins on this day. The shrine of Seto Machhindranath is located inside the courtyard of Janabahal, at the heart of Kathmandu city. On the first day of Seto Machhindranath festival the image of the god is placed in a special chariot. Built with cane and timber the main body of the chariot is very tall. The huge wooden wheels of the chariot measure up to 6 feet in diameter. It is pulled around the main streets of proper Kathmandu for four days.

Ghode Jatra

Ghode Jatra

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Ghode Jatra takes place between March/April and a grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel. Although this festival does not have much of religious aspects, a large number of people, even from outside Kathmandu flock around Kathmandu to witness the horse race and other exciting sports activities performed by the Army. Tundikhel is at the central point of the city. This ground is reputed to have been, in the former days, the largest parade ground in Asia. It is said that in the olden days the Kings of Kathmandu used to go to worship at the Bhadrakali temple in a courtly cavalcade following the Living Goddess Kumari. This visit could have been modified into the parade of horses and finally the horse athletics and racing contest as it is today, held by the army in the presence of the King or Head of the State.

There are other stories as to how Ghode Jatra started. Legend reveals that this festival was held to celebrate the victory over a demon named Tundi who resided over the meadow, today known as Tundikhel. Tundi was a terror, so when he met with his death people rejoiced by dancing on his body with horses. So it’s believed that the clamor of horses’ hooves on Ghode Jatra at Tundikhel keeps the demon’s sprit at bay as it still threatens to ruin the city. It’s said, the faster the horses run quicker will Tundi’s spirit be dispelled. The swift running of the horses on this day is also considered to be a good omen for the Nepalese people.

Another event takes place on Ghode Jatra at Bal Kumari area in Patan where a horse is intoxicated with spirits and an equally drunk person in a traditional Newari attire rides it. People shout to frighten and enrage the animal until it runs widely with the rider clinging to it. This race is thought to have been commenced in the olden times by a certain king of Patan to give a better show in comparison to Tundikhel’s parade, as in those days no one from Patan could attain it. There was a time when the festival was considered only for the residents of Kathmandu. But today it’s popularity has attracted people from all over Nepal. The most worshiped goddess on this day in Bhadrakali also known by the Newari people as Lumarhi Devi.

The festival has two sides of its celebration. Its cultural side involves the Newars of Kathmandu who celebrate it for several days. The idols of the gods of many localities are taken in a procession in their area in portable chariots. Every household is feasting at this time. A demon called ‘Gurumumpa’ is also propitiated at this time in Tundikhel. This festival is called Pahachare. The other aspect of the festival is provided by the function organised by the Royal Nepalese Army at Tundikhel in the afternoon of the main day. Horse race and acrobatic shows are presented at this time in which His Majesty the King is present. A meeting of Lumadi, Bhadrakali, Kankeshwari and Bhairav takes place during the day time at the main celebration at Ason. The deities are brought in their portable chariots. The same festival is repeated at night in Tundikhel.

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