Kathmandu [Nepal], September 10 (ANI): Thousands of devotees poured into the premises of Basantapur Durbar Square on the occasion of Indra Jatra, one of the biggest religious festivals in Kathmandu with fervour and gaiety.
Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the festival of the rain god, Lord Indra is celebrated with the ascension of three living deities in form of humans on three different chariots which tours round city for one week starting from Bhadra Shukla Chaturdashi of Nepali month of Bhadra.
Indra Jatra signals the arrival of the festive season in the Himalayan Nation.
Devraj Indra, the Hindu god of rains and good harvest is worshipped for eight days which starts with the erection of Ya: Shi, a sacred wooden pole on the premises of Kathmandu Durbar Square.
On the fourth day of the marathon festival, the living goddess Kumari along with Ganesh and Bhairab is ascended over a chariot which then is toured around the city. This becomes the main attraction of most of the revellers who throng the premises of the former royal palace.
"It is the first time that I came to watch this jatra. I got to see the living goddess Kumari, which is a special sighting for me. Along with that, I could see the demon deity Lakhe as well. I am much enthralled for getting the chance to watch this festivity, a large number of people flock here to witness the procession," Rajan Shrestha, a university student told ANI after seeing Friday's procession.
Right before the ascension of the trio of living gods and goddesses on chariot, religious and cultural events of singing hymns, mask dance and beating traditional drums as well as musical instruments are performed.
Indra Jatra is observed in the Himalayan Nation on the fourth day of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadra as per the lunar calendar. Legends said that the Indra Jatra festival is observed to celebrate the victory of the gods over the demons to release Jayanta, the son of Lord Indra.
It is believed that Lord Indra came to the earth to collect white flowers for his mother but was caught by the locals (The Newars) of the Kathmandu valley and kept bound. After lord Indra's mother, Jayanta came and disclosed his identity of him and a procession took place which is continued till now.
"It was Lord Indra's mother's birthday, Indra came in search of flowers on earth and found it only at a local Newar's garden but subsequently caught while collecting the flowers. He (Lord Indra) was imprisoned for a year by the then King Pratap Malla and after a year, Indra was taken out of prison and put on public display to alert people about similar theft of flowers. The Aakash Bhairab temple near Indra Chowk on daily basis needs its flower to be replaced because of which flowers were important. In order to commemorate theft, the annual celebration like of today is believed to have started," Krishna Tamrakar, a denizen of Kathmandu who has watched the annual celebration since his childhood told ANI.
Indra, the god of rain, is worshipped in this festival primarily celebrated by the Newar communities following both Hinduism and Buddhism. Apart from the Kathmandu Valley, Kavre and the Dolakha District of the country also celebrate this festival with fervour. President Bidya Devi Bhandari visited Hanuman Dhoka at Basantapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu to attend the cultural and historical festival Indra Jatra Sunday.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Home Minister Balkrishna Khand, Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Prasad Sapkota, and National Assembly Chairperson Ganesh Prasad Timilsina amongst others reached Gaddi Baithak at historic Hanuman Dhoka to observe the annual celebration.
President Bhandari and PM Deuba, on the occasion, offered bheti (offering) to Lord Ganesh, Lord Bhairav and Goddess Kumari and observed the chariot procession of these Hindu deities thereafter.
Today is the main day of the festival that began on the Bhadra Shukla Dwadashi (last Saturday). On the same day, President Bhandari will receive tika and Prasad from Goddess Kumari. The ritual has it that the Head of the State swaps khadga (sword) with Goddess Kumari on that day. (ANI)