Bisket Jatra: Newari Style of Celebrating New Year

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Bisket Jatra, celebration  begins 4 days before the Nepali New Year Day and lasts total 9 days. It is one of the most exciting annual events of Kathmandu valley and is celebrated with most aplomb in Bhaktapur.

Started  in the Lichchhivi era (c. 450-c. 750), it is backed by a strong legend of the Royal family of Bhaktapur. During those days any man who married the Bhaktapur Princess would be found dead during the honeymoon night so nobody dared to marry the princess. Finally, a brave prince married her and stayed awake in honeymoon night. When the princess fell asleep, he saw two giant serpents crawling out of the two nostrils of the princess.  The prince quickly took out his sword and chopped the snake heads off. The next day morning, the two serpents were publicly displayed in a pole. Till today, Bisket Jatra carries the tradition of the displaying the serpents in the form of long ribbons. Still, the symbolic pole is erected in Taumadi Tole of Bhaktapur.

After two day of erection of the pole, images of Lord Bhairava and Goddess Bhadrakali, the male and female manifestation of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati respectively, are enshrined in two large chariots. The creaking and swaying chariot lumbers around town, pausing for a huge tug of war between the inhabitants of the upper and lower parts of the town. Winners are believed to be blessed with good fortune for the coming year. There are worships, rituals and animal sacrifices to appease the God.

On New Year day, devotees take bath in the holy Hanumante River and pay homage to the Yeo-sin-deo, Lord Bhairav and Goddess Bhadrakali. They believe that taking a  dip in the water of the River on New Year’s Day will keep all the diseases away through out the year.


In the latter, there is a tongue piercing ceremony, signifying the conquest over demons and evil spirits.  A volunteer from the Shrestha family gets his tongue pierced in a spiritual trance with an iron spike and walks around the town shouldering a round bamboo rack with flaming torches. After the ceremony, the needle is placed at the nearby Ganesh temple every year. The locals believe that there would be unpleasant happenings if the skewer is lost.

32- years old Juju Bhai Basha has been piercing his tongue since past 5 years and organizing a feast in the village at the end of the day to celebrate the success.

The chariot tour of the deities continues for four more days. On the final day, the deities enshrined back to their own temples and state swords are returned back to the palaces. The festival is celebrated with several days of dancing and worship.

If you are coming to Nepal in April, make sure that you visit Bhaktapur and be the part of Bisket Jatra.

Bisket Jatra: Newari Style of Celebrating New Year
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