Dipankha Yatra | Hamro Patro

ब्लग - साहित्य / हाम्रो लेख


   Jeeya Shakya - Jul 02 2021

Dipankha yatra or the dipankar yatra is the longest religious walkathon of Lalitpur which has been taking place since the past 900 years where thousands of Buddhist and Hindu devotees walk for 2 or more days to about 60 to 62 km on foot with the goal of reaching more than 106 Buddhist and Hindu religious sites inside the valley.
Mostly, Newars take part in this 'Yatra'(journey).The devotees are led by the 'Gurujus',the priests of Newar community. The procession begins at Nagbahal, Patan. There is a tradition of offering rice in a small clay cup called "Saleecha" in Nepal Bhasa,with a betel(Supari) and a coin by the travellers to the "Neel Thusa"(Blue Horned Bull Calf),an avatar of Dipankar Buddha which is also sometimes believed to be Mahadev's wagon Nandi whose main shrine is located in Nagbahal,Patan. That is how the auspicious festival got its name 'Dipankha/Dipankar Yatra' as it is the march celebrating Dipankar Buddha's compassion.

This Yatra takes place once in a long interval of 8 years ,12 years or even 20 years because it can only be held during the period of PanchaYog, that is, when five auspicious astronomical occasions occur at the same time. The religious Astrologists and the priests predict the day to begin the Yatra. It is also believed that a white bull comes to the park of Nagbahal at midnight when everybody is sound asleep to eat the grass of the park which is a sign of 'Dipankha Yatra' coming near.

There is a Buddhist legend behind this religious march. The bull is believed to be an avatar of Buddha in his past life. The white Bull calf was born with blue horns. The Bull was full of compassion and kindness. It always had a sense of helping others who are suffering. Despite being a bull, it followed the principles of Lord Buddha. It would also come to show obeisance to Lord Buddha. One day, the bull was late to worship Lord Buddha because of being engaged in helping others. It was already dawn when he reached Lord's monastery so he hid himself by shining brightly and petrified into a stone bull. Then, a mandala appeared mysteriously where it petrified.

It is also said that the Bull was captivated and kept in Pashupatinath's Kailash secretly. Spiritual Tantric rituals were performed to make the Bull return to the monastery. Because of the Tantrism, it felt uneasy to stay in Kailash and hence it stayed in Kailash for 3 months. It then started wandering around many Chaityas and Temples until he was within Yogambar mandala and was finally enlightened and established in Nagbahal.

The destinations of the present day Yatra are the holy places where the Bull resided. So, Yatra is all about walking to the shrines and holy places where the holy Bull resided. Although there is a controversy between Hindu and Buddhist belief behind this Yatra, secularism prevails and the Yatra has been taking place since decades peacefully, with tolerance between both the Hindu and Buddhist devotees.

During the Yatra, people start off at around 3 am from Nagbahal, Patan and spend the next night in Bouddha, Khasti. The people of Bouddha provide free lodging in hotels and even in their own homes but mostly the travellers sleep on the floor around the Bouddha Stupa. The Yatra is concluded in Mahalaxmisthan, Lagankhel. After the completion of the journey, the travellers are offered Sagun(duck's egg,fish and alcohol)by putting Tika on their forehead by their families for completing the journey successfully.

Dipankha Yatra is indeed one of the most rare festivals in Nepal.The local people are trying hard to preserve this decade old tradition in every way possible.

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