Nepal | July 08, 2020

Bhoto Jatra observed with religious fervour

Himalayan News Service
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Priests taking out the idol of Rato Machhendranath from the chariot after conclusion of Bhoto Jatra at Jawalakhel, in Lalitpur, on Sunday, May 13,2018. Photo: THT

Kathmandu, May 13

The month-long Rato Machhendranath Jatra concluded today at Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, with the annual ritual of displaying black jewel-studded bhoto (vest).

A Guthi Sansthan official displayed the vest to the public in the presence of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari amid a special function. The head of the state also received tika and prasad from the priest.

President Bhandari also paid homage to living goddess Kumari, who was taken to observe the festival earlier today. Similarly, Vice-president Nanda Kishor Pun, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa also attended the jatra and received tika and prasad from priests.

It is believed that the the ritual of displaying bhoto started from the ancient time in order to find the owner of the vest which was once gifted to a peasant by the serpent king Karkot of Taudaha as a reward for healing his wife’s aching eyes. The farmer later lost the vest while working in the field.

The farmer, later during the festival of Rato Machhendranath Jatra found the man who had stolen the vest. But, to the farmer’s dismay, the man refused to return the vest. The rife among the two men grew and they were taken to the king’ palace to resolve the dispute. After failing to settle the dispute, the king ordered to take the case at the temple of Rato Machhendranath. It was believed that people who lied in front of the god would die immediately.

Fearing the god’s wrath, both the men, however, refused to take ownership of the vest as they started doubting that the vest may not belong to them. Then the vest was kept at the place of Rato Machhendranath. Since then, the ritual of displaying bhoto came into practice.

According to cultural expert Hari Ram Joshi, the Rato Machhendranath chariot pulling festival is being celebrated since the 11th century while the vest displaying festival started from the 14th or 15th century.”  Joshi also said the idol of Rato Machhendranath was brought from Kamaru Kamakhya of India and believed to be a form of Lord Shiva. Followers of Buddhist religion also revere the lord as a reincarnation of tantric god Avalokiteśvara.

The idol of Rato Machhendranath later today was taken to Bungmati placing it on a palanquin.

The idol will be placed there for three months until it will be taken back to its temple in Patan.  The festival begins before the onset of monsoon. The government had declared a public holiday in the valley to celebrate the festival.

A version of this article appears in print on May 14, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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