Indra jatra: in an aspect of Bhaktapur

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Almost every single jatra that is celebrated within the Kathmandu Valley has an exciting story. So, does the Indra jatra. However, it differs from city to city, the perspective behind celebrating Indra Jatra.

Essentially, it is the greatest festival for the people of Kathmandu. As in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, the jatra of Machhindranath and Biska respectively is meant as the greatest festivals.

In Kathmandu, the Indra jatra represents a thematically integrated sequence of different circumstances. Like the erection of a towering pole, the Kumari jatra, lakhey dance, entertainments associated with lord bhairava, and practice of death procession, at the very least.

That somehow seems previously endured in Bhaktapur being a specific event. For instance, the towering thing, that is performed in Biska Jatra. The ritual of the death procession happens in Gai Jatra. Kumari procession befalls in Mohani (Dashain) including various acts and masked dances.

Perhaps, that’s why the Indra Jatra is comparatively quite ignored in Bhaktapur. Instead, within those eight days, some minor and moderate events befall in Bhaktapur. That acceptably is believed as the interval of Indra Jatra. Though, it has very fewer relations with Lord Indra.

Indra Jatra; in an aspect of Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur, however being the city of festivals holds a very petty portion of the Indra Jatra in it. In which, mainly the four occasions appear in the span, including Yenya Punhi.

Yama Dya; Thanigu

The very first day of the celebratory starts with the Yama Dya; Thanigu. Where a pole is raised in different twa or the toles of the Bhaktapur which firmly indicates the deity of deaths, Yama. From then until the end of the jatra season, people usually go there and worship it. Presuming that it will protect the locals from death.

Indra jatra in Bhaktapur

Yama dya

Indrayani Jatra

On the third day of the procession, devotees pay visits to different Narayan temples as the day is also posed as the day of Ananta Narayan Puja. The importance of this day is as even as to the day of Tulsi seeding day to the devotees of Narayan.

Besides, the same day hereabouts holds the Indrayani Jatra too where Goddess Indrayani is worshipped and paraded as the consort of Lord Indra rather than one of the Astamatrikas. For the procession as well, the image of Indrayani is taken out from its dyo;chhen or the God House. And carried in a cavalcade around the entire city.

Foremost the cavalcade ends at an artificial pond named Ta: Pukhu (Shiddhapokhari). It used to be called Indra Daha in ancient times too.

Siddhapokhari during Indra jatra

Siddhapokhari during Indra jatra

Now, at the very end of the day, the statue of the Indrayani is left over there, overnight in an open building, a phalcha.

You Dya; Punhi or the Yen: ya punhi

The very next day of the Indrayani Jatra is the day of Yen; ya punhi. That in Bhaktapur is proclaimed as the You Dya; Punhi. Also the day of Shiddhapokhari mela. Devotees, mostly from the nearer villages come to the pool and take bath. Plus, they worship the image of Indrayani which later in the afternoon is returned to its god-house.

Pulu Kisi haigu

Pulu kisi haigu

Pulu kisi haigu
PC: Ram Maka

On the last day of the Indra jatra spam, there occurs two festivities. The first one, Samsana Bhailadya Jatra which generally is not associated with the theme of Indra Jatra. Yet, it reflects the references to Yama and to death.

Secondly, the Pulu Kisi haigu, which symbolically ends this assortment of stories. During this event, the Pulu Kisi acts quite harshly as if it appears there to trouble people. However, there is one more rumour airing around the air.

As per the rumours, one demonic character named Mupatra, who is the enemy of Lord Indra also appear to homage the Yama dyo during Indra Jatra. Although this incident rarely happens nowadays, however, during Mupatra’s visit, if these two characters (Mupatra and Pulu Kisi) anyhow encounter each other, like face to face, then a serious fight could take place. Occurring most disadvantage to the Mupatra.

Mupatra

Mupatra accompanied by his two bodyguards “Dhicas”
PC: Jim Goodman

Moreover, the procession of Pulu Kisi starts from Lakulachhen and continues far more to Dattatraya Square.

The legend regarding celebrating Indra Jatra

According to the legends, Lord Indra once was captured by a demon. Due to a false accusation of stealing Parijat flower. Whereas, he was just obeying his mother’s request to bring that flower to her. Afterwards, her mother unaware of such allegations and his custody sent Indra’s vehicle (Aerawat, an elephant) to the earth to find Lord Indra.

The elephant somehow found him and reported his whereabouts to his mother.

She then immediately appeared on the earth to rescue him. Lord Indra was then released in exchange for a boon. The demon, however, asked for the clouds, and fog as a boon. The clouds and fog are unavoidable elements for preserving the rice, which at that time was the most important thing for them. Since it was the season of rice germination.

It is also added to the story that when they were returning to heaven,  some people left a trail of grain on the gods’ path so that they could later find their way to heaven.

When is it celebrated?

This 8 days long celebration usually befalls in between September and October. Sometimes, in August/September. As per the Nepalese calendar, the festival starts from the Bhadra Dwadashi, following seven more days.

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