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INDRA JATRA





After installing the lingo, a towering wooden structure brought from Sallaghari in Bhaktapur, on the day of Bhadra Shukla Dwadasi, according to religious rituals in front of Hanumandhoka, the festival of Indra Jatra commenced. Different forms of dancing, singing, chariot procession, and worshipping of gods and goddesses mark the festival of Indra Jatra that is celebrated for eight consecutive days. Indra Jatra is celebrated to worship Indra, the Lord of Rain and Fertility by Hindus. It is a major traditional festival for the Newari community. It is also called, Yenya Punhi.


In Nepal Bhasa (language spoken by Newars), Kantipur valley used to be known as “Yenya Dey” , and Indra Jatra was popular as, “Yenya”. Even today, the day of Bhadra Purnima, is usually referred to as Yenya or Yenya Punhi by the Newars, and not as Indra Jatra. The term “Indra Jatra” was introduced much later. The Newars of Kathmandu valley celebrate Yenya Punhi or “Samaya Baji” festival by lighting up an artistic Diyo, named Dalucha and worshipping the same with worshipping ritualistically by offering Samaya Baji.

Indra Jatra is one of the diverse festivals celebrated in Kathmandu valley, also a fun and important one. The major attraction of this festival is the towering of the wooden structure, lingo.

From the day of Bhadra Shukla Paksha Yanlathwa Dwadasi, the chariot is taken from Indra Jot than to Yalanga Chauthi or till Indra Dhwaj with celebrations including singing, dancing and the chariot processions. This festival is considered to be celebrated by Hindus since longer time than Dashain, Tihar, or Fagu Purnima, as told by cultural experts. This festival has been known to be observed and celebrated with much enthusiasm not just by Newars, but people of different ethnicities, and  backgrounds in Kathmandu.

After worshipping a billy goat using “Tantric Vidhi/system”, it is set free in a forest, and the tree it touches is brought down and after worshipping it ritualistically on the day of Ekadashi, it is prepared into a Lingo. Since the lingo is supposed to be straight, it is not easily found in any of the jungles. That is why, any one of either Bhaktapur or Kavre districts’ forests is chosen for lingo selection annually. In the Hanumandhoka Durbar area, in front of the gigantic statue of Kal Bhairav, religious rites and rituals are observed and after the installation of the wooden structure (lingo), the festival of indra Jatra commences. The installed lingo is then known as, “Indradhwajotthan”. Indra Jatra and the process of Lingo installation is talked about in various Hindu scriptures, such as Balmiki Ramayan, Mahabharath, Haribansha Puran, Kalika Puran, Devi Puran, Vishnu Dharmottar Puran, Brihat Samhita, Bhawishya Puran, etc. On the very occasion of Indra Jatra, for the observation of Schhand Bhairav, Shwet Bhairav, Lakhe, Mahakali Dance, etc, Hanuman Dhoka has been opened for the public.

It is believed that Lord Indra, the “King of Heavenly Worlds”, once plucked Paarijaat flowers from the valley for his mother’s “Basundhara worshipping” ritual and was accused of being a thief while doing so, tied with a rope and was walked around town like that. This is how Indra Jatra came into celebration. In order to free her son from the trammel, Indra’s mother appeared in the Kathmandu valley herself, and in exchange for her son,  promised to give people fog, or clouds to make rain, and took her son back in the mythical legends. It is due to this mythology that the older generation still believes the clouds and fog are responsible for the timely yielding of crops.

On the other hand, there’s a legend saying in the mythical times, when the war preparation between gods and demons was going on, the Three Lords (Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwor) sent Lord Indra as an envoy along with an “Indra Dhwaja” (victory banner). In the war of gods and monsters, the gods stood victorious and the Indra Dhawja was worshipped, and the ritual ever since continued. In order to bring forth happiness and prosperity, Indra Dhwaja is installed and worshipped as per the traditional styles. As it’s a legendary tradition, the worshipping and observation of the Jatra is done like the President, and the Prime Minister of the country as well.

The significance of this festival even encompasses the Nepal Unification times. It is on this day, that King Prithvi Narayan Shah won over Malla King, Jaya Prakash Malla in the annexing of Kantipur valley.

On this occasion, the chariot procession of  the Living Goddess of Nepal, Kumari, Bhairav, and Ganesh takes place around Hanumandhoka area. Also, in the Tri Lok Narayan Temple, in front of the Kumari Ghar(House of Kumari), the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu are displayed. The “Manandhar” community of the Kathmandu valley make a garland out of bamboo and light it on fire and make rounds of the valley. Indra Jatra is celebrated for the prosperity of their family members by Buddhists as well. After the utterance of Nanicha Yan, the festival of Indra Jatra concludes. On the very night, the Lingo that carries the Indra Dhwaja is taken down, and floated away in the Bagmati river, which marks the ritualistic concluding of the ceremony.





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