KATHMANDU: An eight-day-long Indra Jatra has begun in the Kathmandu Valley. The first day of the festival is observed by the Newari community to remember the family members who died during the past year by offering small oil lamps.
Indra Jatra begins every year from the day of the Bhadra Dwadasi to Ashwin Krishna Chaturdasi. The festival begins with the carnival-like erection of the Lingo, a wooden pole, which Newari community calls ‘Yarsingh’. This thirty-six feet long wooden pole The Lingo (Yasingh) is brought from the Nala forest in Kavre district, east of Kathmandu.
Households across Kathmandu (especially Newari community ) display images and sculptures of Indra and Bhairab . According to traditional beliefs, Indra had received this flag from Lord Vishnu for protection.
Finally, the Kumari (living goddess), leaves the seclusion of her temple in a palanquin and leads a procession through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra, the rain god.
The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons. Indra is called Yanya in Newari. Jaad (Nepali local liquor) flows from the Bhairab statue, which is remarkable to look at in Hanuman Dhoka.
Besides, there are various dances held on the open stages of the city called ‘Dabu’. There is a display of Swet Bhairab as well as various deities of the city. During Indra Jatra, there are a variety of performances including the dances of Sawa Bhakku Bhairav from Halchowk, Majipa Lakhey from Majipat, Devi Nach and Yeravat Hathi (Pulukisi) from Naradevi, Mahakali and Kathi Maka Nach from Bhaktapur. All the dances take place around Hanuman Dhoka area. The Dasavatar or the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu is also staged every night.
Indra Jatra is a very interesting festival because, for the whole week, people enjoy various traditional dances and witness the chariot of Goddess Kumari, Lord Ganesh and Lord Bhairav being pulled through the older parts of the Kathmandu city.
On the eight-day which is called Nanicha Yaa, the chariots are pulled from Basantapur to Pyaphal, Yatkha, Nyata, Kilagal, Bhedasing, Indra Chok, Makhan, Basantapur.
Naradevi to Nhyokha, Ason, Indrachwok and Hanuman Dhoka. This extra day of chariot pulling was introduced by King Jaya Prakash Malla in 1765 B.S.
The end of the Indra Jatra festival heralds the beginning of Dashain and Tihar.