Biska Jatra (Bisket Jatra): A fusion of tradition and Sole

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Outlines

  • Bisket Jatra is celebrated right in mid-April.

  • The people of Bhaktapur also name it after chyacha gunhuya jatra, which means eight-night and nine days jatra.

  • The highlights of the festival are the rise and fall of lyo sin dyo, tug of war, Sindoor Jatra and the tongue piercing jatra.

Biska Jatra is one of the most popular festivals of Bhaktapur that the aesthete counts this festival among those treasured festivals which has both cultural and historical significance to the Bhaktapur.

Through this Jatra, people welcome Basanta or spring since it is celebrated right in mid-April. For this reason, being the largest jatra of Bhaktapur people also name it after Chyacha Gunhuya Jatra, which means eight-night and nine days jatra. The local people also denominate it as Biska Jatra.

You can see the craze of people for this festival while you attend this jatra. Just to attend this festival, thousands of people from different territories gather at Bhaktapur. There will be this many people that you can’t even surmise. It feels like the whole city is desolate and all people are in the streets of Bhaktapur.

Lyo sin dyo at Bhaktapur

Lyo sin dyo, Bisket Jatra PC: Ram Maka

Rise and fall of Lyo sin dyo

The main attraction of this Jatra is the lyo sin dyo. That is also pronounced as lingo. It is a sky-high unbending pole that locals erect on the last day of the month, Chaitra. And then lie down in the next eve.  Somehow, this process of lying the lingo down is well known as the Satruhanta Jatra. Which means the festival of killing the enemy.

There is a common belief that whoever sees the lingo lying down to the earth, their enemy also meets the fall.

This event falls on the very first day of the new year of Bikram Sambat (BS). That means Nepali new year, where the fact is that this biska jatra has no relation with the Nepalese new year. However, the day is also preferred as Vaishaka Sakranti, Mesha Sakranti, or Bisket Sakranti, besides Biska Jatra.

 

Tug of war

Bisket Jatra, Bhaktapur

Biska Jatra, Bhaktapur. PC: Ram Maka

Admittedly, the Malla kings had heightened up the importance of Biska jatra by adding a chariot festival to this event. People assemble and collied the chariot of Bhairava and Bhadra kali against each other during the festival.

The tug of war that will ensue as people pull the unequal number of ropes is thus biased toward the forward direction.

This compensates in part for the comparative difficulties of the terrain in the two directions of the tug of war.

Promptly, a tug of war begins to determine to which half of the city the chariot will go first. It is considered that the presence of the chariot represents a Darsana, a manifestation or “showing himself” of the deity Bhairava to that city half. The men from the lower half of the city try to pull the chariot out of Taumadhi Square into and along the Bazaar street to the south and then west as far as the Tekhaco twa.

The people from the upper city try to pull it out of the square along the Bazaar street to the north and east into their half of the city as far as Dattatreya Square. Moreover, the tug of war is the most dangerous part of this event which made out this festival one of the dangerous festivals in the world.

 

Sindoor Jatra

Sindoor Jatra at Madhyapur Thimi

Sindoor Jatra at Madhyapur Thimi. PC: Mukesh Shrestha

The festival is celebrated every year for three days but it seems more prominent on the second day of Baisakh and is celebrated as part of Biska Jatra. The festival welcomes the Nepali New Year and marks the arrival of the spring season.

During the festival, devotees gather and take out a procession carrying 32 chariots containing the idols of several gods and goddesses in Madhyapur thimi. People smear each other with Sindoor (orange vermillion powder) as in the Holi festival and sing and dance to the tune of traditional music during the procession.

Tongue piercing festival at Bode

Bode witnesses a tongue-piercing ceremony. One resident spends the whole day with an iron spike piercing his tongue and roams the city by carrying multiple fiery torches on his shoulder.

The tongue-piercing festival is also held on the second day of the Nepali New Year, as part of the Biska Jatra celebration in the Bhaktapur (Mahyapur Thimi). As per the locals, this

historical Malla era festival was cancelled during the third plague in 1855 for the first time.

According to the tradition, only the locals of Bode from the Shrestha clan can volunteer to get their tongue pierced.

The tongue piercing festival is one of the famous festivals of the nation run by the community level bearing the entire financial burden.

It is believed that late king Jagajyoti Malla started the festival and it had been popular since then.

The anecdote about the Biska Jatra celebrated in Bhaktapur Nagar

The anecdote says that King Jagat Jyoti Malla started this jatra. Because of the story of serpents. That story inspired him so much that he recreates it. Of course, by cementing the biska jatra.

Per the story, a cursed princess became a widow the next day after her marriage. The man who gets married to her found dead the next early. In this environment, a prince with tantric power came and get a knot out with the princess. He probably knows about the curse.

For that reason, he stands awake that night. And consequently, he found something very suspicious about the princess. The two serpents steadily came out from her nostrils. In between a meanwhile, the prince sprightly cut them down into pieces with his sword. As soon as he saw them crawling.

And this is how the curse was cured. Therefore, to celebrate this victory against those serpents, people start to celebrate Biska Jatra.

Besides this, people also celebrate the jatra of Mahalaxmi, Mahakali, Bramayani, and Maheshwari during the festival.

The details about such events are covered up by our photo story session, you could check that out too. It has foremost discussed each event and activities of the Biska Jatra.

Do you want to view Old photos of Biska?

Photostory: Biska Jatra: A fusion of tradition and Sole

FAQs

It is said that King Jagat Jyoti Malla of Bhaktapur first initiated to celebrate Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur. As per the anecdote, he was so fascinated with the story related to the vilification of a princess where she became a widow each day.

Each year, throughout mid-April, for nine consecutive days, Bisket Jatra is celebrated. To be more precise, the Nepalese New year is widely known as the day of Bisket or Bisket  (Biska) Jatra.

Bisket Jatra took place in various areas including Taumadhi Square, Pottery Square and Lyo sin Khel (where the giant pole Lyo sin dyo is erected and fallen down).

Bisket Jatra is celebrated to remember the story of Serpents, to explore the glory of different god and goddess, especially Bhairava and Bhadrakali and of course, to welcome the spring.

No, they are not interrelated with each other.

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Biska Jatra (Bisket Jatra): A fusion of tradition and Sole
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