Nepal's religions
Grafik Nepal's Religious Festivals
Festival information
Festivals in Nepal
Nepal's Festivals
Nepal's Religious Festivals
Indra Jatra
Kathmandu: People celebrate Indra Jatra with enthusiasm
Indra Jatra: King offers puja
Indra Jatra: Kumari Koniya of Kumari Rath Yatra (southern parts' festival) and Thaniya Jatra (northern parts' festival)
Indra Jatra: Indra Jatra and the display of Swet Bhairab
Lakhe dance : A colourful part of Indra Jatra
Nepal's Religious Festivals
Dashain festival
Dashain festival: 'Kalai Lagaune' - Festival of western Nepal
Tihar festival
Janakpur: Chhath festival
Newars celebrate Saat Gaonley Jatra
Phagu Poornima

Indra Jatra

Hundreds of devotees thronged the Kathmandu Durbar Square at local Basantapur to observe the beginning of Indra Jatra, the eight-day festival, celebrated primarily by the Newar community of the capital. Devotees from different parts of the Kathmandu valley gathered to watch the Indradhwajotthan, hoisting the Lingo (a wooden pole), which symbolizes the beginning of the festival.

Lingo, also known as Yonshi in Newari, will be erected at an auspicious time according to the lunar calendar. This particular Lingo was brought from Nala, Banepa. A he-goat is worshipped and is blindfolded. The first tree, which the blindfolded goat strikes, is cut off and brought to Basantapur.

Before erecting the Lingo, Sarduljung Gulm of Hanumandhoka Palace, Royal Khadga (a traditional sword) and a horse are brought from Narayanhiti Royal Palace, representing the King, who is regarded as the reincarnation of Lord Bishnu. The Lingo is then erected amidst beats of traditional drums called Pachhima, played mainly by Manandhar community, along with the traditional Royal military band. Priests, assigned from the Royal Palace, did all the worshipping.

This whole process is done in a festive mood, combined with Lakhe (a traditional mask dance) at another corner of the Hanumandhoka Palace by the people of local Kilagal. Indra Jatra is celebrated in respect of god Indra and his adventurous deeds performed in the Valley. According to the mythology, when Indra and other gods were defeated by the mighty demon, Lord Bishnu granted the victory flag to them, they fought under that flag and demons were defeated. From that very day, the festival is celebrated and the victory flag (Indradhwaj) is hoisted to commemorate the victory.

On the Indra Jatra eve, the god Bhairab of every house is cleaned. Similarly, Aakash Bhairab at Hanumandhoka is cleaned and only one part of the wooden curtain is opened, according to Yam Tuladhar, one of the caretakers of Aakash Bhairab temple. The huge head of Aakash Bhairab, which remains closed for a whole year, is displayed from today for eight days after the Lingo is erected. Also the statue of god Bhairab and Indra are displayed outside the temple.

The beginning of the Indra Jatra is also celebrated as Mateya Wonyu (Lighting oil lamps), during which the family members of those deceased in a year go around different parts of the Valley lighting lamps in their memory.

Kathmandu: People celebrate Indra Jatra with enthusiasm

Hundreds of devotees throng the local Basantapur and Indrachowk to have a darsan (glimpse) and prasad of the facial image of Bhairab displayed at different places of the area during the Indra Jatra festival. The gathering of the local people has been continuing from the beginning of the Indra Jatra which was marked first by hoisting a lingo (pole). A large number of people visit local Indrachowk to have a glance of Aakash Bhairab and Swet Bhairabdisplayed during the festival of Indra Jatra. On the occasion,devotees take jaand (local beer) and samaya-baji distributed among the devotees.

There is a tradition that from the first day of the festival images of God Bhairab and Indra, the rain god, are displayed at different places of the Durbar Square area in commemoration of the rain god Indra. The Newar community considers Indra and Bhairab as one god with two appearances. The tradition also has it that the image of Bhairab is brought out from each house or temple for display during the festival. It is believed that by displaying Indra and Bhairab, they are extending thanks to the rain god for good harvest.

On the occasion, the huge facial image of Swet Bhairab is also put on display which otherwise remains closed for the whole year. From the first day of the festival the huge head will remain opened for the festival. According to the scripture placed under the image of Bhairab, the image was made during the reign of King Rana Bahadur Shah.

The periphery behind the temple was a cremation ground (deep in the Newari language) during the rule of King Rana Bahadur Shah. Whenever King came out of his palace, he used to see the cremation of dead person every day. He used to return thinking the scene as a bad omen. Then to do away with cremation there, he installed Swet Bhairab just in front of the main gate. The temple is just in front of Degu Telaju temple. The entrance still remains there just behind Swet Bhairab. It was a belief that white is good omen and therefore is considered god.

The legend also has it that people used to get frightened of great facial image so it is closed throughout the year. There is also a belief that Swet Bhairab wore precious jewelry so it was kept in close wooden curtain for security. One Gurju (priest of Buddhist clan) worship Bhairab every day inside the wooden curtain. In special puja one goat, one ox and one duck are sacrificed. The method is given in the Shila Patra (traditional book), he says.

On the eve of Indra Jatra, care-takers will clean up the image and sacrifice the animals from one window among the nine closed windows. They open the window amidst the beats of traditional musical instruments of dhime and jogi on the first day of Indra Jatra.

At Kumari Jatra, that falls on the third and fourth day of Indra Jatra, the ghuthiyars (care-takers) of Swet Bhairab will prepare the samaya bagi (mixture of five traditional food items) and jaand (traditional beer) as prasad.

In Aakash Bhairab also they prepare the same prasad. Great competition takes place among the people to get few drops of prasad (jaand) of Swet Bhairab. They don't take prasad from Aakash Bhairab because there is a tradition that all the jaand poured from the mouth of the image is sent to Patal Lok (below the earth).

In this way, people celebrate the festival in the Hanumandhoka area along with Lakhe, Bhairab and Devi dances with full enthusiasm. The beats of traditional musical instrument are also heard in the periphery when the evening falls.

priest priest
March 2008
The Government in Nepal decided to observe 18 different festivals of various religions and communities as public holidays and insert them as national holidays in the government's official calendar.

The festivals to be observed as public holidays include Eid and Bakr Eid of the Muslims, Christmas, the Nanak Memorial Day of the Sikhs, Udhouli and Ubhouli of the Kirants, Goura of the far west and the Tamu and Sonam Lhosars.