Indra Jatra Festival

Indrajatra

The Indra Jatra festival is celebrated by both the Hindus and Buddhists with great enthusiasm. The festival continues for eight days during which time there is much rejoicing, dancing and feasting. On the first day, along wooden pole is erected in front of the ancient Royal Palace at Hunuman Dhoka, in order to propitiate Indra, the god of rain. Classical dancers also assemble at the spot wearing different kinds of masks and dancing around the courtyard of Hanuman Dhoka to celebrate Indra’s visit.

On the third day of the festival, the Living Goddess or “Kumari” is taken out in a procession in a chariot. Three chariots of Kumari, Ganesh and Bhairav are taken round the city for three days. The King also pays homage to the Kumari during this time. The festival’s many other interesting dances including the Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, and Dasha Avatara masked dances, are staged on the plinth of Narayan temple, just opposite the Kumari temple. On the last evening of the festival, the long wooden pole erected on the first day is lowered amid religious ceremonies and animal sacrifices.

The festival is named after Lord Indra who is known as the god of rain and also as the king of heaven.  The festival of Indra Jatra actually continues for eight days with much rejoicing, singing, dancing and feasting. People gather at the Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu.  On the first 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 around the courtyard of Hanuman Dhoka, wearing different kinds of traditional masks and costumes. On the third day of the festival, the living goddess Kumari is taken out in a procession in a chariot. Chariots of goddess Kumari, lord Ganesha and lord Bhairav are taken around the city for three days. The excitement of the festival of Indra Jatra comes to an end on the last evening of the festival when the long wooden pole erected on the first day is lowered with religious ceremonies, animal sacrifices and ritual gestures.

Festival Time:
September-October; end of Hindu month of Bhadrapada to early in the Hindu month of Asvina
Indra Jatra is the most important festival of Nepal, combining homage to a god with an appearance by a living goddess. The festival, lasting for eight days, is a time to honor the recently deceased and to pay homage to the Hindu god Indra and his mother Dagini so they will bless the coming harvests. It furthermore commemorates the day in 1768, during an Indra Jatra ( jatra means “festival”), that Prithwi Narayan Shah (1730-1775) conquered the Katmandu Valley and unified Nepal.

Kulendra Baral

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