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Indra Jatra

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Indra Jatra

Indra Jatra

Did you know the fact that Nepal is a multicultural, multilingual and multiracial country? 123 castes, 123 languages and 10 different religions are followed here. These many different castes have their own different folk stories and songs. Similarly, people belonging to the Newari community celebrate Indra Jatra which occurs on the following day of Gai Jatra. Do you know that Indra Jatra is the greatest and biggest street festival of Katmandu Valley?

Do you know this is one of the historical festivals founded by Malla king of Kathmandu Valley, King Gunakam Dev for the memoirs of the discovering of the Kathmandu Valley? It is believed that this festival was started in the 10th century.

Of course, as you already have known or as mentioned earlier, Indra Jatra is the biggest street festival celebrated in Kathmandu valley and in other some places, for eight days, generally in the month of Bhadra. Literally, Indra Jatra starts from Bhadra Dwadashi to Ashwin Krishna Chaturdashi Tithi. If you want to experience the extreme joy of Indra Jatra then you are recommended to visit Kathmandu once compulsorily in the month of August or September.

If you look into the Hindu mythology then, you are going to find that “Indra” means “the god of rain”. Hindu people believe that this carnival is dignified to thank Lord Indra for rain and to praise for pulling evil’s leg.

Do you know that Indra Jatra is celebrated with the erection of linga (Yessing) a ceremonial pole? It shows the aberrant display of Aakash Bhairava, represented by the masks guttering Jaad and Rakshi. The Yessing is a very special pole that is chosen from Nala forest in Kavre district. Indra Jatra includes Kumari Jatra and other processions such as Majipa Lakhe, Pulukishi, Sawan Baku, Ganesh (Chariot), Kumar (Chariot), Kumari (Chariot).

You would be surprised when you will know the history behind the celebrations if Indra Jatra because the story includes the fact of Indra being caught up and put into custody by a man. The actual story begins like: In a blissful morning in heaven when Indra’s mother was going to worship Lord Vishnu, she noticed the absence of Parijaat flower which is very needful for worshipping Lord Vishnu. Then she looked into Indra for help. In order to help his mother, Lord Indra in his disguise form came to earth in search of Parijaat flower.

After searching a lot, finally, he found Parijaat flower and became ready to pluck it. When he was just about to pluck it the owner of the garden caught him thinking him as a thief. Lord Indra, after then was tied with rope and kept. As you know a mother always cares for her child, when Indra didn’t come even after a long period of time, worrying his mother came down to the earth too. 

She started her journey searching for her son and finally, she found her son in a really bad circumstance. After she found her son, she immediately moved to the garden owner and begged for his son’s rescue. Considering her request, the garden owner left Lord Indra and later on he was known that whom he had assaulted was non-other than the rain god Indra. 

Lord Indra came to know that farmers had really bad times in the winter season due to lack of water and that is why even one flower is of great importance for their survival. So, it is believed that the morning dew in the winter season is the windfall of Lord Indra to the farmers after that incident.

You mightn’t know that Indra Jatra is a very recreational festival You mightn’t find it recreational to carry chariots of Kumari, Lord Ganesh, and Bhairava to the different parts of Kathmandu but literally, it arouses pride in people, refreshes their mind and mood and provides a chance to get known about different tradition and culture of Nepal. 

Hey! Another fascinating factor, in other words, the attraction of the festival is various kinds of traditional dances like Bhairava Naach and Lakhe Naach, songs, and dramas representing Newari identity.

You would be surprised to know that Indra Jatra celebrated in the present day is not similar to the celebration style introduced by king Gunakam Dev. Along the long period of time, many rulers and kings have added many ways of celebration. The first-day celebration also includes the remembrance of old died ancestors by offering them with small oil lamps. 

This tradition was introduced by King Mahendra Malla. It is said that Indra Jatra was only celebrated for seven days but later on King Jay Prakash Malla (the last king of Kathmandu) started celebrating the festival for eight days wherein the last day chariots are pulled from Naradevi through Nhyokha and Ason, Indrachwok to Hanuman Doka.

Do you know Indra Jatra has enriched Nepalese customs, traditions, norms, and values? You may be thinking how? Of course, you must think that. Well, before going into it you must know that this festival directly relates to the Hindu religious epic and stories. 

As you know now that carnival is related to Hindu religious culture, you may be able to understand that Indra Jatra has conserved the identity of Hindus. The festival also invites many vacationists which means that excursionists and researchers continuously visit Nepal to know about this festival as well as to observe and enjoy the festival. Besides, this also has maintained religious tolerance in the country.
Authored by Shlok Koirala for Hamro Library

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