Kathmandu has a taste of civilization and peace in the soil and climate. Kathmandu is not only a city of gods and temples but also a city of many festivals and ancient civilizations with diversity. Indra Jatra, i.e “Yehya” in the Nepalese language means “celebration inside Kathmandu”. Indra Jatra is one of the biggest street festivals celebrated in Basantapur, the ancient settlement of Kathmandu city. This festival was started by King Gunakamadeva in the 10th century to recall and show respect the founding of the Kathmandu city. The celebrations are held according to the lunar calendar, so the dates are unfixed. In 2019, the festival takes place from 10th to 17th of September. The main day of attraction falls on the 13th of September. This eight days long celebration consists of two events, Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra. In Indra Jatra mask dances of deities and demons, displays of sacred images and tableaus in honor of Indra, the king of heaven. Kumari Jatra is the chariot procession of the living goddess Kumari.
Why Indra Jatra is Celebrated?
Indra Jatra festival was started in the 10th century during King Gunakamadeva in Kathmandu Valley. According to the ancient story, Indra descends to earth from heaven in search of Parijat “a white flower” for his mother’s “Basundhara worshipping”. While he was picking flowers from, other’s garden then he was caught and tied with a rope and was walked around town. To free her son from the local people, Indra’s mother appeared in the Kathmandu valley, and in exchange for her son, promised to give people fog, or clouds to make rain, So, the older generation still believes the clouds and fog are responsible for the timely yielding of crops.
How is it celebrated?
The major attraction of this festival is the towering of the wooden structure. It is prepared and decorates with various flag insignia. Kumari (living goddess), leaves the seclusion of her temple and leads a parade through the streets of Kathmandu. You can also see the two small chariots of Ganesh and Bhairab in this festival. Three chariots carrying Goddess Kumari, Lord Ganesh and Lord Bhairav are pulled along the festival route through Kathmandu Durbar Square. Another attraction of the festival is the dancers who were mask by representing deities and demons. Classical dancers, mask dancers of deities wearing different kinds of traditional costumes and musicians follow the chariot.