This year people eagerly anticipated for the 250th Indra Jatra festival to celebrate it with a lot of fanfare. The festival commenced on September 24, by putting up the lingo (Indra Dhwajaswa) at Hanuman Dhoka, the festival continues for eight days. Besides people thronging the places where statues of Indra are put up in the valley it is the exhilarating chariot procession of the living goddess Kumari that people look forward to each year.
Lord Indra’s victory
According to culture expert Satya Mohan Joshi, “It was the war between the Gods and the Devils that led to the initiation of Indra Jatra. When the devils led by Tarkasur defeated Lord Indra and occupied heaven, Lord Indra went to Lord Vishnu asking for help. Lord Vishnu gave him a pataka (flag) assuring them that it will lead them to victory. He won and to mark the victory Indra jatra festival is celebrated. Each year a tall lingo (Sal tree) is brought all the way from Nala and put up at Hanuman Dhoka with a flag on top of it, commemorating Lord Indra’s victory. A statue of Lord Indra is also kept at the bottom.”
There is also a famous
folklore, as Joshi explains, “It is believed that Dagini (Lord Indra’s mother) required parijat flowers and sent Lord Indra to earth, to get it. He came disguised as a human but was caught and taken to the king. As punishment he was tied and taken around town. So each year Lord Indra’s statue is put up with his hands tied depicting this incident.
Kumari’s chariot procession
According to legend King Jaya Prakash Malla used to play dice with goddess Taleju who appeared in human form. Once the king overwhelmed by her beauty acted indecent with her. This angered the goddess and she left her human form. However
after a long persuasion she came in the king’s dream and said she would come in the form of Kumari but asked the king to hold a festival for her each year, which led to Kumari Jatra. It is believed that Bhairav and Ganesh are Kumari’s bodyguards thus their chariots are also pulled along with Kumari’s.
As it is the 250th Indra Jatra it is going to be celebrated more elaborately. The entire front portion of the Kumari house is going to be decorated with Ta ya ma (garlands) and unlike previous years traditional musicians will be accompanying the procession instead the army band. On the first day from Jaisidewal onwards the chariot will be drawn over Basa la (a special cloth carpet).