Indra Jatra: A festival of the Masked Men and Living Goddess

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Among the list of festivals celebrated in Kathmandu, Indra Jatra falls in one of the top list. Indra Jatra the festival of the masked dancer is dedicated to Lord Indra- the King of Gods and Heaven and also the God of Rain. This festival is celebrated for eight days in August/ September both by Hindus and Buddhists. Classical Dances like Elephant Dance, Lakhe Dance (Dance of a man with a mask) are performed on this festival. The Chariot of Kumari- Living Goddess is taken through the streets of Kathmandu. People enjoy Classical Dances and pay homage to Kumari and Lord Indra in this festival.

living goddess

It is believed that lord Indra’s mother Dakini was in need of a flower of ‘parijat’ to cure her ailments. Indra dropped down to earth to look for the flower and found it in Kathmandu. Indra was plucking the flowers at Maruhiti, a sunken water spout at Maru, the locals caught and bound him like a common thief. He was then put on display in the town square of Maru in Kathmandu. When the city people realized they had captured Indra himself, they were appalled and immediately released him. Out of appreciation for his release, he promised to provide enough dew throughout the winter to ensure a rich crop. It is said that Kathmandu starts to experience foggy mornings from this festival onwards because of this boon.

The preparation of Indra Jatra starts in advance prior a month before the festival. On the first day a long wooden pole is erected in front of the Kathmandu Durbar Square, in order to propitiate Lord Indra, the”god of rain”. The event hosts classical dancers wearing different kinds of traditional masks and costumes and dancing around the courtyard of Hanuman Dhoka to celebrate Indra’s visit. On that particular day the pillar is welcome with old barrel gunshot.

The third day of the festival is dedicated to the Living goddess Kumari where she ride her Chariots  with her the chariot of Kumari, Ganesha and Bhairav are taken around the city for three days. Thousands of people gather around the petite corners of Kathmandu city where especially on this day even the traffic is halted in and around the area of Kathmandu durbar square.

Another event that ads attraction is the Head of the state paying homage to the Kumari, in the past the kings of Nepal use to exchange sword with Kumari but after dethrone of King Gyanandra in 2008, this tradition has lost its glory. During the festival’s many interesting dances, including the Procession of Living Goddess-Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Dasha Avatara masked dances are staged in Kathmandu Durbar Square, near the Kumari Temple. The festival comes alive when hundreds of dancers dressed and masked perform the secret dances.

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.

Indra Jatra: A festival of the Masked Men and Living Goddess
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