Indrajatra (Kumari) festival in Nepal
Travelling is of great fun. People travel mostly to learn about the different types of culture, landscape as well as they travel even to know the food habit of the area where they are visiting and they enjoy doing this like walking, driving, observing and living with local people. Nepal is a tiny Himalayan country popular for its landscape. Thousands of visitors come every year to observe the beautiful Himalayan landscape as well as to do the safari in the national parks to observe the different species of animals. Besides engaging in different type of activities they do sightseeing of Kathmandu which is capital of Nepal. Cultural diversity in Kathmandu is highlight of the city. Kathmandu celebrates lots festivals during different time of the year.
One of the biggest festivals of Kathmandu is Indrajatra which is celebrated according to the Lunar calendar and is a full moon day. The festival falls specially after the rainy season in Kathmandu is over. Kumari the living goddess comes out during this festival and drives in a chariot so the festival is also popular by the name Kumari Festival. There are different routes to drive the chariot of the Kumari. The festival actually dedicated for the lord Indra who controls the rain and Kumari actually coming out to watch the celebration of the festival but as Kumari is one of the highlight it is called Kumari festival as well.
Kumari culture and its root
Kumari actually is a virgin girl from Shakya community from Kathmandu and stay in the particular building in Kathmandu Durbar Square until first menstruation but when she enters a menstrual age the community choose another girl and one who is already adult got replaced with the newly chosen girl.
Regarding how they have established the Kumari is a vague topic but the highlight come from 17th century and related with Malla king from Kathmandu. Taleju is a protector goddess and she is protecting king as well as people from Kathmandu in the past. There is a temple for goddess Taleju in north west corner of Kathmandu durbar square and dates back to 1564 AD. According to the story, the Malla King named Jaya Prakash Malla has supernatural power and he use to visit Taleju temple every night. The goddess takes a form of beautiful lady and play a dice game with the King. The king was playing for many days and he loved doing that. The king was mesmerized with the beauty of goddess and one day he insulted the goddess so she disappeared and told to King on a dream that she will never come again as a beautiful lady but reincarnate in a form of a virgin girl, the king has to find that girl and make a temple for her and keep the girl there and worship her as a reincarnation of a goddess. The king then done the same. He made the temple for the goddess and found the girl with the help of his priest and astrologers and started worshipping her. Continuation of the same we have Kumari in different Newar community of the Kathmandu valley and the most permanent one is from Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Indrajatra festival and the story of Indra
Once Indra’s mother Aditi like to worship her favorite goddess in heaven and she needs a flower of coral jasmine for that and she checked the coral jasmine is blossoming only in Kathmandu Valley. So Indra’s mother ordered Indra to go down to Kathmandu valley and collect the Jasmine for her special worship.
Obeying his mother Indra came down to Kathmandu and collected a good bunch of Coral jasmine flowers from here. Mean time he was collecting the flower the owner of the farmland has seen he is stealing the flowers from his farm and angry he caught Indra and tied him in a poll. Indra disappeared for many days and did not return home so Indra’s mother like to discover about the condition of the Indra and she discovered that the people from Kathmandu tied him in a poll and not freed him. Indra has beautiful while elephant who also felt sorry in absence of his master and came down to Kathmandu valley. The local people they fetched him as well. As Indra and his elephant both of them did not come back to heaven, Indra’s mother decided to come down to Kathmandu and free both of them. She came down and put on the negotiation with people from Kathmandu to free her son and his elephant. The people from Kathmandu are agreed to release Indra with a condition that they were given opportunity to see their ancestors who supposed to live in heaven and also with another condition that the rain for the farmland is sufficient and Indra need to give them fog and dew to make the better harvest of their crops specially rice. Indra’s mother agreed to do that so they free Indra and they all queued up to go to heaven to visit their ancestors. Indra and his mother started walking in front towards north west of Kathmandu where there is a small lake is located. When they reached the lake Indra’s mother told to people they could take a holy bath before proceeding for heaven. The people were agreed to have a holy dip there in the lake. Mean time they were taking a bath Indra has produced the fog and they disappeared in the fog and the public from Kathmandu who does not know how to go to heaven came back home disappointed because they were not able to meet their ancestors.
What to see during Indrajatra festival in Kathmandu
A day before the Indrajatra the local youths make special offering of the Samayabaji, a collection of different type of foods displayed beautifully and later after the festival is over they will distribute to whoever interested as a offering from the festivals.
People from different clans and groups from Kathmandu valley gather in Kathmandu durbar square with musical instrument and paly music.
People take Pulukisi, representation of Indra’s white elephant in different part of the town followed by chariot of Ganesh, Bhairav and Kumari.
A lay people from every house hold through offerings like flowers, sweets and coins when the chariot of Kumari is passing in front of them.
The route of the chariot is different every day and on the last day of the festival the chariot is pulled by only women.
People with incense and lights follow the chariot everyday during they are taking chariots on different part of the town.
On the major cross roads and dabali they perform different type of religious dances to please the Ganesh, Bhairav and Kumari.
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