Browsing articles in "Festivals"

Sri Swasthani Brata Katha

Sri Swasthani Brata Katha is a very popular ritual observed in Nepal in the Poush month (January – February) during winter. Goddess Sri Swasthani, known to grant wishes of her devotees, is worshipped for the whole month of Poush. The Swasthani Brat Katha (story) is recited everyday. The month long telling of the tales are dedicated to the Goddess and the stories that are mainly narrated are those of Swasthani Devi, Lord Shiva and other Gods.

Goddess Sri Swasthani is usually portrayed as a four-handed deity with charka, trishul, sword and lotus in each hand sitting at the center while Asta Matrika or eight deities of power – Mahakali, Baishanavi, Brahmi Maheswari, Kaumeshwari, Barahi, Indrayani and Chamunda painted around her.

It is believed that Goddess Swasthani helped Goddess Sati overcome her troubles after she burned herself at Daksha Yagam after hearing her husband, Lord Shiva, being insulted. As per this legend Goddess Swasthani helped Sati overcome the troubles and then to reincarnate and win over Lord Shiva as her husband again.

During Swasthani Katha, Hindu married women observe brata or fasting for the wellbeing of their husbands and unmarried women observe the Vrata in order to get a good husband. Women wear red colored clothes and bangles during the one-month period as it is believed that red is a sign of good luck. The Brata is observed for one month by some women.

The month long rituals associated with Swasthani Katha takes place on the bank of rivers. In Kathmandu the festival takes place at Salinadi, a river associated with the Swasthani brata katha, situated in Sankhu.

During the holy period, in the morning or evening the Goddess is worshipped by family members, amid chanting of holy hymns from the book Shree Swasthani Brata Katha which narrates the divine leelas of Swasthani Devi. After the chanting of mantras stories are read by an elderly male or female member.

The stories mainly revolve around the theme – how some devotees due to ignorance take the side of Adharma and are later rescued by the Goddess. Some stories narrate who the goddess rescues her devotees. A major highlight in the stories is the prominence of Swasthani Devi over other gods in the Hindu Pantheon.

In the first few chapters of the 31-chapter book, episodes related to Lord Shiva’s wife Satidevi’s sufferings and her bearing them with courage and, eventually, Sri Swasthani rescuing her from her troubles and agonies, are explained.

During the Vrata period, after early morning shower the pooja of Shree Swasthani begins. In the evening chanting of brata katha or stories is a must. The routine shouldn’t break. It should go on uninterrupted for one month from the date of commencement. At the completion of chanting hymns, flowers and fruits are to be distributed among all those listening to brata katha.

On the concluding day of puja on a copper plate the holy symbol of Om is painted and a Shivling using mud is erected on it. Later, pooja of the Shivling takes place and this concludes the Sri Swasthani Barta Katha.

Yomari Punhi

Yomari Punhi – meaning full moon of yomari – one of the popular Newar festivals is observed every year during the full moon of December. A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest) dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi. On this full moon day, people of the Kathmandu Valley offer worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for the rice harvest. Sacred masked dances are performed in the villages of Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the Valley to mark the festival.

The festival is said to have started from panchal nagar(present day Panauti). Myth has it that Suchandra and Krita, a married couple, first experimented with fresh yield of rice from their field. And what took shape turned out came to be known as yomari. The new delicacy was eventually distributed among the villagers. As the food was liked by all, the bread was named yomari, which literally means ‘tasty bread’. The myth further states that on the same day the couple offered the god of wealth, Kuber, the new delicacy, who was passing by in a disguise. Following this Kuber disclosed, his real identity and blessed the couple with wealth. He also declared that whoever will prepare yomari in the form of gods and goddesses on the full moon of December and observe four days of devotion to god, will get rid of poverty. The festival is celebrated on the second day when prayers are offered during which the yomaris are stored and not eaten on that very day. On the fourth and the final day the people belonging to the Newar community consume the sweet bread as a gift from gods and this practice also marks the end of the festival.

Bada Dashain

Goddess_durga photo by the uploader

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Dashain is the biggest festival of the year for the Nepalese people. Dashain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar and is celebrated by Nepalese of all castes and creeds throughout the country. The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Goddess Durga is worshipped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and animal sacrifices.

Dashain commemorates the victory of the gods over the wicked demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayan, where Lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravan. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorised the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo. The first nine days signify the nine days of ferrous battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolize the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess. Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the kingdom as the divine mother goddess.

In preparation for Dashain every home is cleansed and beautifully decorated, painted as an invitation to the mother goddess, so that she may visit and bless the house with good fortune. During this time the reunion of distant and nearby relatives occur in every household. The market is filled with shoppers seeking new clothing, gifts, luxuries and enormous supplies of temple offering for the gods, as well as foodstuffs for the family feasting. Thousands of sheep, goats, ducks, chicken and water buffalo are prepared for the great slaughter. All types of organizations are closed for ten to fifteen days.

The first nine days of Dashain are called Nawa Ratri when tantric rites are conducted. In Nepal the life force is embodied in the divine energy and power of the female, depicted as goddess Durga in her many forms. All goddesses who emanated from goddess Durga are known as devis, each with different aspects and powers. In most mother goddess temples the deity is represented simply as a sacred Kalash, carved water jug or multiple handed goddess holding murderous weapons. During these nine days people pay their homage to the goddess. If she is properly worshiped and pleased good fortunes are on the way and if angered through neglect then misfortunes are around the corner. Mother goddess is the source of life and everything.

The first day of Dashain is called Ghatasthapana, which literally means pot establishing. On this day the kalash (holy water vessel) symbolizing goddess Durga often with her image embossed on the side is placed in the prayer room. The kalash is filled with holy water and covered with cowdung on to which seeds are sown. A small rectangular sand block is made and the kalash is put in the center. The surrounding bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The ghatasthapana ritual is performed at a certain auspicious moment determined by the astrologers. At that particular moment the priest intones a welcome, requesting goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence.

The room where the kalash is established is called ‘Dashain Ghar’. Generally women are not allowed to enter the room where Dashain puja is being carried out. A priest or a household man worships the kalash everyday once in the morning and then in the evening. The kalash and the sand are sprinkled with holy water everyday and it is shielded from direct sunlight. By the tenth day, the seed will have grown to five or six inches long yellow grass. The sacred yellow grass is called ‘Jamara’. It is bestowed by the elders atop the heads of those younger to them during the last five days when tika is put on. The jamara is taken as a token of Goddess Durga as well as the elders blessing.

As days passes by regular rituals are observed till the seventh day. The seventh day is called ‘Fulpati’. On this day the jamara to be used by the royal household is brought from their ancestral royal house in Gorkha about a hundred and sixty nine kilometres away over the hills north west of the valley of Kathmandu. A parade is held in the Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace. The fulpati, i.e. the procession bearing the jamara and other items necessary for the tika, is brought from Gorkha after a three day walk and most of the government officials are eagerly waiting for the fulpati parade to arrive at Rani Phokari in the afternoon. Rani Phokari area is filled with hundreds of government officials meticulously attired in the traditional formal dress.

On fulpati, the royal kalash filled with holy water, banana stalks, jamara and sugar cane tied with red cloth is carried by Brahmans from the ancestral royal house on a decorated palanquin under a gold tipped and embroidered umbrella, led by the military platoon of the royal priest. The government officials also join the fulpati parade. A majestic display of the Nepalese Army is held in the Tundikhel grounds. Guns are fired and the entire valley echoes with the resonance sound of it. The firing continues for ten to fifteen minutes to honour the fulpati. By the time the function ends the royal fulpati is already taken inside the Dashain ghar in Hanuman Dhoka Palace. With this the Dashain feasting starts.

The eighth day is called the ‘Maha Astami’. The fervor of worship and sacrifice to Durga and Kali increases. On this day many orthodox Hindus will be fasting. Sacrifices are held in almost every house through out the day. The night of the eighth day is called ‘Kal Ratri’, the dark night. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed at the mother goddess temples. In the darkness of the night Durga temples, army barracks, and old palaces all over Nepal hold sacrifices for the mother goddess. The sacrifice continues till dawn. The old palace in Basantapur Hanuman Dhoka, is active throughout the night with worships in almost every courtyard. While the puja is being carried out great feasts are held in the homes of common people where large amount of meat are consumed.

The ninth day is called ‘Nawami’. The Taleju temple at Hanuman Dhoka is opened for the public only once a year on this day. Thousands of people go and pay their respect to the goddess. Temples of mother goddess are filled with people from dawn till dusk. On this day the official military sacrifices are held in the ‘Kot’ courtyard at Hanuman Dhoka. The government allows foreigners to witness this function so hundreds of tourists and diplomats eagerly gather here. Animals mostly black buffaloes are slaughtered by hundreds to honour Durga the goddess of victory and might and to seek her blessing. Military bands play war tunes, guns boom and officers with beautifully decorated medals in full uniform stand there. When the function ends the courtyard is filled ankle deep with blood. On this very day the god Vishwa Karma, the God of creativity is also worshiped. All factories, vehicles, any machinery instruments and anything from which we make a living are worshiped. We also give sacrifices to all moving machinery like cars, aeroplanes, trucks etc. to get the blessing from goddess Durga for protection for vehicles and their occupants against accidents during the year. The entire day is colourful.

The tenth day is the ‘Dashami’. On this day we take tika and jamara from our elders and receive their blessing. We visit our elders in their home and get tika from them while our younger ones come to our home to receive blessing from us. The importance of Dasain also lies in the fact that on this day family members from far off and distant relatives come for a visit as well as to receive tika from the head of the family. This function continues for four days. After four days of rushing around and meeting your relatives Dashain ends on the full moon day, the fifteenth day. In the last day people stay at home and rest. The full moon day is also called ‘Kojagrata’ meaning ‘who is awake’. The Hindu goddess of wealth Laxmi is worshipped. On this day the goddess Laxmi is given an invitation to visit each and everyone.

After Dashain the nation settles back to normal. After receiving the blessing of goddess Durga, people are ready to work and acquire virtue, power and wealth. Dashain thus is not only the longest festival but also the most anticipated one among all the festivals of Nepal.

Indra Jatra

aakash bhairav, Indra Jatra

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The festival of Indra Jatra (also known as Yanya Punhi) is celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhists with great enthusiasm. Known as the festival of classical dances, on this day one is able to observe numerous varieties of traditional dances. The festival is named after Lord Indra who is known as the god of rain and also as the king of heaven.

The festival of Indra Jatra continues for eight days with much rejoicing, singing, dancing and feasting. People from all over Nepal, mostly those who live within the Kathmandu Valley, gather at the Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu. The first day of the festival is viewed by a large number of people. On that day, a long wooden pole is erected in front of the ancient Royal Palace at Hanuman Dhoka, in order to propitiate Lord Indra, the “god of rain”. Classical dancers also assemble at the spot, wearing different kinds of traditional masks and costumes and dancing around the courtyard of Hanuman Dhoka to celebrate Indra’s visit.

On the third day of the festival of Indra Jatra, the living goddess Kumari is taken out in a procession in a chariot. Kumari, the “living goddess”, is considered to be an incarnation of the goddess “Taleju”. Chariots of Kumari, Ganesha and Bhairav are taken around the city for three days. According to Hindu beliefs Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati who has a head of an elephant and Bhairav is another form of Lord Shiva himself.
The king of Nepal, the only Hindu king in the world, also pays homage to the Kumari during this period. The festival’s many interesting dances, including the Procession of Living Goddess-Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Dasha Avatara masked dances are staged in Kathmandu Durbar Square, near the Kumari Temple. The “Dasha Avatara” refers to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu who is one of the Hindu’s Holy trinity. The excitement of the festival of Indra Jatra comes to an end on the last evening of the festival when the long wooden pole erected on the first day is lowered with religious ceremonies, animal sacrifices and ritual gestures.

Teej

Overview of Pashupatinath temple, near Kathman...

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Teej is an annual fasting festival celebrated by women in Nepal. It falls on the month of August or early September. Married women observe the Teej fast to honor Lord Shiva and for long and healthy life of their husband. Unmarried girls also observe fast on this day for a good husband. Teej celebrations lasts for three pious days. Traditional dances and songs form an important feature of Teej celebrations. Red color is considered auspicious for women observing Teej fast and so most of them dress up in red or bridal clothes.

Preparations for the festival begin well in advance. Fabric stores, sarees and suit outlets are stocked with the bridal red color fabric. Teej festival celebrations are carried further with sumptuous feasts and traditional performances. On this day, women dress up beautifully. They clad themselves in red colored apparels, wear glass bangles, heavy ornaments and apply henna. Teej gives women an opportunity to dress like the newly wed. They worship the epitome of divine marriage – Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, for longevity and prosperity for their husband and family.

Three Days of Teej
Teej is a three-day-long festival in Nepal and each day has its own significance.

Dar Khane Din: the day to make merry
The first day of Teej in Nepal is called the ‘Dar Khane Din’. On this day, the womenfolk dressed in the finest clothed gather at one place and perform traditional dance and sing devotional songs. A special food called ‘dar’ is eaten. Celebrations continue till midnight after which the 24-hour-long fast begins.

Fasting Day
The second or the fasting day of the Teej festival is dedicated to pujas and prayers. The holy Pashupatinath temple is thronged by women in red sarees to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. Women gather in the temple around the beautifully decorated idols of Shiva and Parvati and offer fruits and flowers to seek blessings of the divine spirits. Lighting of an oil lamp is very important part of the puja ceremony. It is said that the oil lamp should be kept lit all night to avoid bad omen.

Rishi Panchami
The third day of the Teej Festival is called Rishi Panchami. On this day, the seven sages of the Hindu pantheon are worshiped by women in a belief that it will cleanse all sins of the previous year. Womenfolk take a holy bath with red mud found on the roots of the sacred Datiwan bush, along with its leaves. After three hours of rigorous cleansing, they come out purified and absolved from all sins. After this they sit in a semicircle while a priest sitting in the middle chants devotional prayers.

Kushe Aunsi

Kushe Aunsi or Fathers’ Day falls in the month of Bhadra on a new moon day. Matatirtha Aunsi celebrates mothers while Kushe Aunsi is for fathers. As per Hindu mythology, father should be respected as a God. So on this day people pay respect to their fathers by giving Dhog (bending the forehead on their father’s feet). After Dhog, they offer sweets, fruits and clothes as a sign of respect. Holy scriptures say, “There’s no God above our parent”.

People whose fathers have passed away go to offer Pinda (a round ball of cooked rice) at Gokarna temple in Kathmandu, where Gokarneshwor Mahadev’s temple is located. After the completion of the religious rite there, they donate money and cereals to the Brahmin priests and the poor in the name of their deceased fathers for salvation and virtue. On this day people crop Kush grass, which is believed to be the feature of Lord Vishnu by taking a holy bath early in the morning. The Kush grass is an indispensable item to conduct any kind of Hindu religious rites. This Kush grass can be used throughout the year for any kind of religious rites and if this day has fallen on Monday then this grass can be kept to use until the next twelve years for any kind of religious functions. Some people also make a mat out of this grass and keep it safely to sit on it and use while conducting the sacred religious functions which is called the “Kushashan”. Because of believed as a feature of Lord Vishnu this grass has been respected as a pious item in the Hindu mythology.

Mattya

Temples of Patan in Nepal

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Matya (Mata Ya:, Mattya, Deep Yatra, Festival of lights, Candle walk festival) is a typical Buddhist festival of Nepal which in Newari means the festivals of lights. It is however, quite different from Deepawali which we celebrate every year in the month of November. This interesting festival begins early in the morning on the third day of the dark fortnight of Shrawan (August).

One of the most fascinating features of this festival is a long parade of the enthusiastic shrine-walkers who go round all the Buddhist shrines scattered in and around the city of Patan. It must be remembered here that Patan alone has more than 1300 Buddhist shrines. The number of shrine-walkers who colorfully form this impressive parade is around three to four thousands. Men and women both participate in this festival. They carry variety of interesting gifts to make offerings to Lord Buddha. The offerings of rice, grains, flowers, red Powders, sweets, incense and guru patra (a gift cup for guru) are quite common tin the scene. However the offering of oil or butter lamps to Lord Buddha on this auspicious day is a dominant feature. It is interesting to note that the majority of the shrine-walker are the lamp offers to the shrines. Offering lamps in particular to the Buddha on this day is said to signify great enlightenment obtained by overcoming the Maras (temptations).

There is a very interesting story about the origin of this festival. Once Shakya Muni Gautam was in deep penance to attain Nirvana. The Maras, awfully jealous of his determination came down to detract him. They came disguising themselves in different forms. Some were in the form of fierce-looking demons and some in apsara form (damsels) and so on. They all made every possible attempt to seduce him but all in vain. In a long run Shakya Muni overcame the Maras and became Buddha, the enlightened one. It is said that later on, the Maras came to confess their sin to lord Buddha and worshiped him with great honor. Ever since this festival is believed to have come into existence to mark this great day.

The expression of this fantastic story can be found in this festival. All those devil dancers and the apsara actors and several other funny mask-wearers who are the part and parcel of this festival parade are said to represent the Maras. This parade is always accompanied by several groups of musicians playing various kinds of traditional musical instruments. The route prescribed for this parade to pass through looks quite confusing yet a accepted as most perfect shortcut. This parade is supposed to move on in an unbroken chain. The route map of the entire parade is a leading group of musicians who always go ahead of the parade playing a kind of music. People here are not used to maps. It takes seven to eight hours to complete going round the entire Buddhist shrines.

It is interesting to note that the ten different neighborhoods of Patan have long been devoted to the regular running of this festival parade. The responsibility of organizing this parade goes to each of those neighborhoods once in every ten years. There is very interesting tradition according to which the sponsoring Tole of this parade must train a team of traditional drum-players who are expected to display every best skill they have when they are asked to perform in the public on this day. The name of these drummers team is known as Naubaja Khalah. They perform this show in a very special way only at the member Toles devoted to this Matya festival. It is quite exciting to see the way they go round the town and perform this typical musical show with great enthusiasm. Some of the drums that are used for the occasion are so richly decorated that people sometimes mistake them for temple treasures.

The most enjoyable part of this festival Parade for the children is the devil dancers and funny mask-wearers. Quite a number of them are clad from head to foot all in worn out sacks and rags. Whenever they came across the inquisitive kids they suddenly jump in a dramatic way and try to scare them away. The kids who are too slow to get the fun always stay away from the scene and those who are smart enough to push themselves in the front never wait to tease those devil dancers and enjoy themselves to their heart’s content. Buddhists have a tremendous respect to this festival and so they celebrate it with great feast and fun. They seem to have attached a great deal of significance to this day which as they believe is an unforgettable day as all the Maras surrendered themselves to Lord Buddha and confessed their sins paying tribute to the all-compassionate Lord Buddha.

Guru Purnima

A portrayal of Vyasa, who is revered by Hindus...

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Guru Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Asar (July-August). It is a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyas. Vyas edited the four Vedas, wrote the eighteen Purans, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. Vyas even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.

On this day, all spiritual aspirants and devotees worship Vyas in honor of his divine personage and all disciples perform a puja of their respective spiritual preceptor or Gurudevs.

At the same time, this day has great significance to the farmers as well for it heralds the setting in of the much-needed rains, as the advent of cool showers usher in fresh life in the fields. It is supposed to be a good time to begin spiritual lessons. Traditionally, spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual sadhana from this day.

The period (Chaturmas four months) begins from this day. In the past, wandering spiritual masters and their disciples used to settle down at a place to study and discourse on the Brahma Sutras composed by Vyas, and engage themselves in Vedantic discussions.

Across Nepal, some academic institutions declare holidays on this day while at others they hold cultural programs. Students bring in sweets and sometimes fruits for their teachers.

Bhoto Jatra

Patan_020

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Bhoto Jatra, ends the month-long celebration of Rato Machhendranath Jatra. The chariot with an idol of Rato Machhendranath deity resembles the god of rain, according to local beliefs. It is taken to Lagankhel via Pulchowk, Gabahal, Mangalbazar and Sundhara.

This is the longest as well as the most important festival of Patan that begins with several days of ceremonies and fabrication of a wooden wheeled chariot at Pulchowk. The chariot carries a 60-feet tall spire fabricated from bamboo poles raised from its all four ends.

With the beginning of the month-long ritual, the chariot is paraded through the streets of Patan for several weeks. The procession moves to Gabahal, Hakha, Sundhara and many other places in Patan. It is taken to Lagankhel, where it rests for over 4 days, finally to Jawalakhel.

According to a legend, Yogi Gorakhnath came to seek alms in Patan but did not receive any from the locals. The furious Yogi forced all the rain-showering serpents under his seat and started meditating. There was no rain in Patan for ages and on the advice of the astrologers and pundits, the king of Patan invited Machhendranath, Gorakhnath’s teacher, in Patan. Learning that his teacher was in Patan, the Yogi went to see him freeing the rain showering serpents from his seat, which led to plenty of rain in the town. Thus, culture experts claim that this festival symbolizes rain and fertility.

The fourth day of the chariot’s arrival at Jawalakhel is celebrated as Bhoto Jatra on Jawalakhel ground. On the day of Bhoto Jatra a bejeweled bhoto (vest) of Machhendranath is displayed before the public and other dignitaries.

Rato Machhindranath Jatra

Rato Machhindranath

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Rato Machhindranath is worshipped as the god of rain and it makes sense that the festival starts just before the monsoon arrives in Kathmandu. It is mainly celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus of the Newar community. Rato Machhindranath was also revered by medieval kings in the Kathmandu Valley as the guardian deity of Kathmandu Valley. Legend has it that it was brought from Assam, India by a farmer to Lalitpur in Nepal to prevent a drought during the rice season. It is known as Bundyo to Newars, the locals of the Kathmandu valley. Rato Machhindranath is also known by the names such as Padampani, Lokeswor, Avalokiteswor, Aryavalokotiswor and Karunamaya. The name “Rato Machhindranath” literally translates into “Red Fish God”. Rato means Red and Machhindranath can be broken down into two words “Machhindra or Matsyendra” which means Fish and Nath means God.

Rato Machhindranath Jatra is the longest running chariot festival in Nepal. This festival is a prayer for good rain so that there is a good harvest. It begins with the construction of a 32-feet high chariot in Pulchowk, Lalitpur. The chariot is made out of the cane, wood, bamboo. This chariot festival ends with the Bhoto Jatra festival in Jawalakhel. The chariot is built about one kilometer away from Machhindranath’s temple. Bhoto Jatra is attended by the head of state of Nepal. The chariot is pulled through the old city of Patan and is stopped at many places during the duration of the festival, which typically lasts a month. This festival starts during the month of Baisakh.

Before the prepared chariot is pulled, the committee that organizes the festival offers a cow in donation to a priest. On the day the chariot is pulled, another chariot is also pulled. It is the chariot of Minanath. Minanath is regarded as the creator God and Machhindranath has been regarded as the breeder god.

When the chariot procession starts, thousands of people assemble to observe and worship the fair. On the first day, it’s pulled towards Ganabahal, on the second day towards Sundhara and on the third day to Lagankhel. Then it rests there for two to three days. People flock to Lagankhel to worship the chariot during this time. At Lagankhel, a coconut is dropped from the top of the chariot and its believed that whoever grabs the coconut will have all their wishes fulfilled. So many people compete to catch the dropped coconut. The coconut receiver again offers the coconut to the chariot with some donation. After that the chariot reaches Thali and the next morning only the women pull the chariot. During the chariot procession traditional Newari bands and Sarduljung (army) battalion plays their band. After reaching Thahiti tole, the chariot remains there for a few days.

After a few days the knowledgeable prophets forecast the auspicious day to demonstrate the Lord Machhindranath’s Bhoto (vest), which is called the “Bhota Jatra”. Thousands of people along with the foreigners amass in Jawalakhel on that day to observe Bhoto Jatra. A grand ceremony takes place on that day. The head of the state graces the fete. People herd there to look at the Bhoto because it is believed to bring Bhoto Jatra. The black velvet, jeweled Bhoto also has its own story. Legend says it was given to a farmer by Karkot Naga in reward for curing eye ailment of his Queen. But it got stolen. After sometime when the farmer was attending Machhindranath festival at Jawalakhel, he saw someone wearing the same vest. A quarrel ensued between the farmer and the man wearing the vest. Karkot Naga was also at the festival in human form. He settled the quarrel and submitted the Bhoto to Machhindranath for safe keeping. From that day on every year the Bhoto is shown to the people assuring them that it is safe.

After Bhoto Jatra, the chariot is dismantled and the idol of Lord Machhindranath is taken to a place called Bungamati. Machhindranath resides there for a few months and then he’s brought back to the Machhindranath temple at the Jatra inception time. The idol is brought back only after a priest calculates and finds an auspicious day. Every year the chariot is dismantled at Pulchowk but on the twelfth year it is taken to Bungmati and then dismantled.

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