Indra Jatra: The Festival of Rain and Fertility

Indra Jatra: the festival which is known for the God Indra, the god of rain is being celebrated in Kathmandu on Saturday. The festival is known as the festival of rain and fertility and heralds the end of monsoon season. The festival is Kathmandu’s biggest religious street festival celebrated by offering prayers to Lord Indra along with cultural performances. Furthermore, a chariot processions of living goddess comes out with performance of masked dances of deities and demons commonly known as  Lakhe Naach, Mahakali Naach, Lusiki Naach, and Dash Avatar.

Indra Jatra: performance of masked dances

Normally, this festival takes place in the month of September every year. As per the ancient legend, the young Jatra, disguised as a farmer, descended to earth in search of Parijat: a white flower of his mother Dagini, needed a perform a ritual. He found the Parijat caught by the owner of the meadow and he was bound and imprisoned in Kathmandu until his mother, worried about his extended absence, came looking for him.

People Gathering at Hanuman Dhoka For Indra Jatra Festival

When the folk of city realized about the imprisoned, they were appalled, and immediately released their divine prisoner. Out of appreciation for their prompt release of her son, Dagini promises enough dew throughout the winter to ensure a rich crop One of the main events of the Festival of Indra Jatra is the Kumari Jatra, or Kumari Festival (also called the Rath Jatra, or Chariot Festival), which occurs on the third and fourth days of the Indra Jatra. One of the primary events of the Kumari Jatra is the pulling of the three-tiered chariot bearing the Royal Kumari’s ornate palanquin through Kathmandu.

Cultural Dance Performance during Indra Jatra

The festival is celebrated by Hinduism and Buddhism, each having it’s own rules and rituals. However, like most festivals of Nepal, both Hindus and Buddhist unite to celebrate the festival of Indra Jatra. It is also believed that the festival is a festival of classical dances. It is on this very day when 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.

Indra Jatra: Living Goddess Kumari (Old Picture)

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.

Wooden pole in front of the ancient Royal Palace in order to propitiate Lord Indra, as they celebrate the Indra Jatra festival in Katmandu

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.

Photographs credited by: Izahorsky | dezudas |  Roet shilpakar

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