Apart from the cuisines, Newars are well known for their lavish festivals and the word Jatra is used for carnivals.
To those who have known or been to Kathmandu, they probably realize that all this is not something new. To those who have learned to respect the valley for its color and novelty, we’ve got lots of festivals lined up for the entire year. I know for those who are new to Kathmandu or have been reading my blog for quite a while now, you are in for a surprise.
So I’ll just quickly run through the important or say most celebrated festival in the valley.
This nine-day long festival is celebrated in Bhaktapur marking the new Nepali calendar year, i.e. April where God Bhairav and Goddess Bhadrakali, two deities of Bhaktapur are enshrined in their chariots and pulled through the streets of the valley by men.
Rato Machhendranath is regarded as the rain god by the valley’s denizens and the festival is believed to have started in the 11th century. The chariot is pulled by devotees through the major localities of Lalitpur for about two months in the month of May.
Rato Machhendranath Jatra festival is similar to the Seto Machhendranath Rath Jatra festival held in Kathmandu, Nepal. The only difference between these two is the duration of the festival.
The main highlight of the festival is the procession of chariots of Living Goddess Kumari, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Bhairava that takes place over a period of three days in the month of September through the streets of old Kathmandu.
The dances are mostly performed by masked dancers who enact various mythical tales of gods and demons, and in fact, Indra Jatra is one festival during which one can witness most of the famous traditional dances performed by skilled dancers.
The entire idea behind celebrating the festival could also be the celebration of the change in season so that the additional festivity and food could work on the body and prevent the usual illness associated with the change in weather conditions. The celebrations assure good health by the consumption of nutritious food and time spent with closed ones makes this day all the more special.
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