Madhav Narayan Festival and Swasthani Brata Katha: Month long festival in Bhaktapur

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Festival dedicated to Madhav Narayan

Among the different faces of Lord Vishnu, Madhav Narayan refers to one who is worshipped during the month of Magh. Every year, thousands of devotees reach the premises of Hanuman ghat of Bhaktapur to witness a Barta (Fasting for a day), dedicated to Lord Madhav Narayan.

Month-long worship to the God Madhav Narayan is also done in Sankhu which is based on the story of Swasthani. But the experience in Bhaktapur is a little bit different than in Sankhu.

Madhav Narayan Barta

Madhav Narayan Barta at Bhaktapur / Mohan Prasad Prajapati ( Photocare )

During the event, devotees wake up early in the morning, most likely before sunrise, and have a holy bath in the nearby river, and stay still for some time in the water. They get up from that water sheet only after a priest finishes his Mantra Japas. Approximately after 4-5 minutes later.

Though the processor seems quite unusual like rolling down up to the river yet it is soulfully practiced in Bhaktapur. That practice where the devotees roll down to the river is called Silamantulegu.

Madhav Narayan Bhaktapur

Devotees following SIlamantulegu during Madhav Narayan Festival in Bhaktapur / Photocare

Likewise, some of them practice Madulyau, where they lie done to the earth but in an extra form. If we talk about it in a simple way, then it is Sastanga Namaskar that they follow in each proceeding step. This might also be a way to show the world that yes, Bhaktapur unquestionably is the city of devotees.

Madhav Narayan festival, Bhaktapur

Devotees going to Hanuman Ghat during Madhav Narayan Festival in Bhaktapur / Photocare

And up above all these things, there is a thing that this barta (fast) is observed mostly by the male devotees rather than the women. The female devotees are more up to have fast in the bank of the Salinadi river rather than in Hanuman ghat. However, most of them are seen participating in different events here too.

The Hanumanghat or the Hanumante river

The Hanumante River is an important tributary of the Bagmati River though the significant sources of water in the Hanumante River are rainfall and natural springs. It is said that this river has been the major natural waterway in the Bhaktapur district.

Remember, the Mahadev Pokhari of Nagarkot, Bhaktapur. The pond is also mentioned in another article named Luhiti. It is believed that the water source of luhiti of Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the same pond.

It flows through the rural and urban areas of the Bhaktapur district before joining the Manohara River at Jadibuti in Kathmandu.

Hanumanghat has also been on the list of one important Ghats in Kathmandu Valley, seeing its terms of religious importance for the cremation of the deceased.

Hanumanghat, locally called ‘Khorhen’ by the locals is located at the confluence of two rivers, namely, Brahmayeni Khola River flowing from the north-east side and Tabyakhusi Khola River flowing from the south-east side. The river carries the name Hanumante only downstream of the confluence of these two rivers.

There is a belief with regards to the religious importance of Hanumanghat, Hanumanghat is considered to be located at tribeni (confluence of three rivers) of Bira, Bhadra, and Tamasa. To them, Bira is Brahmayeni Khola River and Bhadra is Tabyakhusi Khola River and that the river Tamasa is coming out from the ground.

The journey of the idol of Madhav Narayan

The Barta and festival regarding Madhav Narayan are not only done in Sakhu and Bhaktapur but it also has immense importance in Lalitpur. Despite that, the journey of Madhav Narayan is concluded in different cities including Panauti, Pharping, Pashupatinath of Kathmandu, Hanuman ghat, and Changunarayan of Bhaktapur.

There are different processes and routes followed by different cities regarding this journey of Madhav Narayan’s idol. Like the idol of Madhav Narayan of Sakhnu is carried and roam toward Pashupatinath, Shees Narayan of Pharping, Hanuman ghat, Changunarayan, Pananti, and then return back to Sankhu.

But the procession from Bhaktapur does not cover all these places and follow the same segments. The devotees along with the idol of Madhav Narayan travel to other pilgrims such as Pashupatinath, Panauti, and Changu, all by foot but it does not cover the pilgrim like shes Narayan of Pharping.

The detailed schedule of the journey is provided below which might give you an idea about the cavalcade.

Rituals and segments of the Madhav Narayan Barta, in an aspect of Bhaktapur,

If you walk nearby the Hanumante Khola or ghat by the first day of the Swasthani barta, you can observe some people wearing white dhoti standing or lying on the bank of the river. This site solely makes the barta of Madhav Narayan unique in Bhaktapur.

The devotees eat only one time a day i.e, in the evening. They prepare a sweet dish by themself named Kheer and have it.

Journeys at different places

Aaunsi: After entering from the eastern door to Til Madhav Narayan temple, devotees bring the Kalash and starts the procession via Chandika, Nyatapola, Fatkeshwor, Bali Loha, Patal Ganesh, and Jetha Ganesh to Nasamana, in the front platform of the Dikpal Narayan

Madhav Narayan Nyatapola

Madhav Narayan Nyatapola | Photocare

Tritiya: After worshipping the Narayan, the procession along with the Kalash goes to Naag pokhari and Luhiti of the Mulchowk of the Bhaktapur durbar. That after, they go to Batuk Bhairav, Laka Balakhu, Bachala, Dwarikanath, and Badrinath, along with the Santaneshwor temple of Khouma and Khykwali Narayan of Itahhen.

Madhav narayan Nagpokhari.

Madhav Narayan Nagpokhari/ Photocare

Shree Panchami:Entering from the eastern door Wakupati Narayan, the Kalash is brought from the northern door and the journey continues to Dattatraya, Songalothe, Sukuldhwoka, Jagannath, Tulache Narayan and reach Til Madhav Narayan temple. At Songalothe, the devotees stop and make rounds of the temple.

Madhav Narayan Dattatraya

Madhav Narayan Dattatraya / Photocare

Lala khasti: Devotees go to Panauti, to the Triveni.

panauti Madhav Narayan

Bringing Kalash all the way to Panauti / Photocare

Ashtami: Worship Indreshwor of Panauti and then roams the city holding Kalash and stops only at Taleju.

Swasthani Barta Katha

Madhav Narayan at Panauti / Photocare

Dasami: Go to Pashupatinath, take holy baths, worship 108 Shivalings along with the Pasupatinath himself. They get out from the western door and continue the journey towards Bageshwori and Tamreshwor.

Madhav Narayan pasupatinath

Madhav Narayan at Pashupatinath / Photocare

Bhisma Dwadashi: Go to Changu Narayan temple, enters from the eastern door, and worship. While returning stops in front of Ganesh and pay a pray.

Swasthani Barta Katha Changu

Madhav Narayan at Changu Narayan / Photocare

Trayodashi: Hanumanghat to Chasukhel’s Narayan and Chandeshwori temple, then Til Madhav Narayan Temple.

Til Madhav Narayan temple

Til Madhav Narayan Bhaktapur / Photocare

Chaturdashi: From Til Madhav Narayan Temple, the procession starts and roams the city.

Madhav Narayan Festival Bhaktapur

Madhav Narayan Festival Bhaktapur / Photocare

Purnima: After the completion of Barta, Til Madhav Narayan is worshipped and the Kalash is placed under the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla at Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Madhav Narayan Festival Bhaktapur

The idol of Madhav Narayan at Bhaktapur Durbar Square


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  • It is said that the festival of Madhav Narayan Barta of Bhaktapur is much older than of the Sankhu. The historians Om Dhaubhadel confirm it as there is evidence found in Taumadhi and Suryamadhi tole of Bhaktapur as an inscription.

Madhav Narayan Festival and Swasthani Brata Katha: Month long festival in Bhaktapur
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