I just happened to witness one of the most beautiful festivals here in Kathmandu – Indrajatra. It was the time of September where the days are not so hot and nights are not so cold, must say a perfect weather to roam around the valley. During these time of the year, most of the festivals are about to begin. And this time, it was time for Indrajatra – festival that is celebrated for eight days where chariot of Living Goddess – Kumari, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Bhairab. Chariots are pulled to the different part of the old town near Kathmandu Durbar Square – UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also known as Yenya Punhi which translates to Festival of Kathmandu during full moon.
Celebrated by the indigenous people living here in Kathmandu, this festival starts with the erection of about 32-foot linga (wooden pole) which is dragged all the way from the nearby town of Nala. After erection, this festival officially starts. Different people from different part of the town take part in this festival. The main highlight of this festival is chariot procession of Kumari, Bhairav, and Ganesh, dance of Lakhey Aaju, Pulu Kisi (white elephant), dance performance of different mask dancers, dramas, and many more. The chariot procession takes places on the third day, where the Head of the State comes to get blessings from Goddess Kumari. After that, on the auspicious time, the procession starts. Chariots are pulled by a group of people to the different part of the upper and lower town in different days. In the evening time, different dances and dramas like Mahakali Pyakha (dance), Devi Pyakha (dance), Dus Avatar (ten incarnations of Lord Bishnu), khyaks – person dressed in a black fur who frolic and fools around with some comic moments. Also, the chase with Majipa Lakhe and the jhyalincha (a boy dressed as a dragonfly) is a fun thing to watch during this festival. During the ancient time, these festivals, dance and dramas used to be the only source of entertainment, which they take part and enjoy thoroughly.
Only during this festival, the huge face of Swet Bhairab is open for public display. Other time of the year, it is hidden behind the window. During the evening time, a tap of alcohol is dripped from the mouth of Swet Bhairab which is used as an offering. Also, the huge masks of other Bhairabs are also displayed during this festival. The whole inner town will be in a festive mood during this festival. You will see lots of old and new generations enjoying this festival. People even organize a feast in their home and invite relatives and friends to be a part of this festival and share happiness.
In the morning and evening time, you will see different group of people come together to sing a hymn. People built a small sitting arrangement in different places to sing hymn and pray. Passerby prays to the Bhairab and lit butter lamps and incense. The environment itself is holy and religious and cultural. One can see the richness of the culture of the indigenous people.
In the 8th day, the erected linga (wooden pole) is pulled down indicating the end of this festival. Many people come to witness this event, marking end of the festival until next year. All in all, this is one of the must see festivals while you are here in Kathmandu, so make sure that, you will get a chance to be a part of this festival when you are here.
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