King, Queen may attend Bhotojatra

Lalitpur, May 30:

For the first time after being striped of power by the House of Representatives on May 17, King Gyanendra and Queen Komal are likely to make their public appearance on the day of Bhotojatra on Friday.

On the day, the jewel-studded bhoto will be exhibited from the chariot of Rato Machhindranath to the people with the King’s permission. However, the Ringroad-Jawalakhel route — and not the traditional Bagmati River-Jawalakhel route — might be used to ward off disturbances.

A meeting held today between the representatives of local authorities, including the Guthi Sansthan, Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City (LMC), District Administration Office, District Police Office, Jyapu Samaj and line authorities, decided to make necessary preparations for an alternate route, Chiri Babu Maharjan, president of the Jyapu Samaj Lalitpur, said.

Maharjan said the King’s presence in the ceremony has been considered important for centuries. “Never has any king missed the event. We will see what happens on that day.”

Prem Lal Joshi, executive officer of the LMC, said the LMC has been given the responsibility of preparing the stage at Jawalakhel for the ceremony. Joshi, who took part in the meeting, said: “Though we are prepared for the ceremony, we do not know about the details of the royal visit.”

Purusottam Paudel, chief of the Guthi Sansthan Lalitpur, said: “The bhoto, is kept in the safe keeping of the priest at Machindra Bahal in Bungmati, and the chariot will be displayed and kept back once the bhoto is exhibited with the permission of the king.”

The Bhotojatra festival, marked on the fourth day of the arrival of the bhoto at Jawalakhel, marks the culmination of the Valley’s longest festival. Since the festival is ritually associated with the annual festival of Sithinakhaa, the day of cleaning the sources of water, the Bhotojatra was pre-poned by a day so that the pilgrims will not have to go to Bungamati to offer prayers to the Rain God, said Chiri Babu Maharjan.

According to the legend, the locals of Lalitpur must offer special worship to Rato Machhindranath on the day of Sithinakhaa.

The festival began on April 28 with the installation of the idol of Rato Machhindranath in the chariot. The chariot, which was towed along the narrow alleys of Patan, is being kept in Lagankhel.