KATHMANDU: Strange though it sounds, the Guthi Corporation, main operating committee of the famous Indra Jatra, provided just Rs 12.84 for the lavish Kumari Chariot pulling festival that began here yesterday. The amount was fixed some 300 years ago.

Mythology has it that Indra Jatra, the God of rain, holds supreme importance in Newari society of Kathmandu. The day is important, for Indra, the king of gods, descended from heaven to Kathmandu, entered into a local's garden and picked up a Parijat ( perfumed white flower).

In retaliation, locals of Kathmandu caught him without knowing him. Later, as they came to know him, he was released.

The release of the rainmaker was followed by a chariot pulling of Kumari which was to free Indra from the sin of picking flower without a permission.

"Important though it is, sadly, the corporation provided only Rs 12.84 for the expenses of such a lavish festival," said Uttam Shakya, member of the Indra Jatra Management Committee.

"We are shocked. The amount that was fixed in Nepa Era 877 during the reign of King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu was reimposed 300 years later," he said, adding, "The Corporation must have allocated at least Rs 1 million." he added.

However, Hari Prasad Joshi, chief of the Guthi Corporation, Kathmandu, refuted the claim.

"This is a blatant lie, we allocated at least Rs 800,000 for the eight-day festival that began here yesterday," he added.

Shakya, meanwhile, informed that the Ministry of Culture provided Rs 365,000 to the ten Guthi Khala: for the festival. However, Joshi complained that the government did not provide any amount to them for the Indra Jatra and the Kumari festival.

The chariot will roll over different thoroughfares of historic importance including the Basantapur square before coming to a halt on September 8.

Joshi also lambasted the government for failing to pay all of the 60 Manes (assistants in the festivals) since 2006. Their allowance was fixed ranging from Rs 220 to Rs 375 per person some 20 years ago. "It has not been reviewed yet," said Joshi.

The Manes were all set to disrupt the festival citing non-payment, according to the Corporation. "We convinced them not to disrupt this time and have urged the Ministry of Finance to pay them immediately.

Meanwhile, the ministry is yet to decide on the matter, said Joshi.

Dev Raj Joshi, assistant administrator of the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square Conservation Programme under the Kathmandu Metropolitan City said that the preparation for the festival was complete.

"The festival will run smoothly as per the calendar," he added. The straightening out of the lingum marked the festival yesterday. While the chariot pulling of Kumari is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Prez to observe Indra Jatra

KATHMANDU: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav will be present at the Indra Jatra festival on Thursday. As the chariot pulling of Kumari begins on right time, the Indra Jatra ends, according to the Guthi Corporation. President Yadav and Prime Minister Madhav Kumar will attend the function at Basantur at 4:30 PM, said Hari Prasad Joshi, chief at GC. — HNS