Nepal FES­TI­VAL MUST-SEE: BISKET JATRA

Asian Geographic - - South Asia -

An an­cient fes­ti­val in Bhak­ta­pur, Bisket Jatra is held in honour of the town’s most im­por­tant gods, Bhairav and Bhadrakali. Large shrines con­tain­ing fig­urines of these gods (and sev­eral oth­ers) are placed in enor­mous wooden char­i­ots and pulled through the streets by crowds of young men, along­side singers and mu­si­cians with drums, cym­bals and flutes, pro­vid­ing ac­com­pa­ny­ing fan­fare for the pa­rade. Ver­mil­lion pow­der is scat­tered over the men pulling the char­iot. The char­i­ots are laid to rest near a tem­ple, where peo­ple of­fer rice, coins and pow­der.

For the next eight days, devo­tees visit dif­fer­ent shrines, and feasts are held across the city, along­side dancing and gath­er­ings. Dur­ing this time, all the city’s tem­ples are open to the pub­lic.

The day be­fore the New Year, a 20-me­tre pole is erected. Crowds gather to watch a cer­e­mony where long white ban­ners, rep­re­sent­ing snakes, are raised with the pole. This rep­re­sents a tale where two snakes were killed by a brave man who mar­ried the princess.

Young men then at­tempt to scale the pole us­ing ropes tied to its sides. It is be­lieved that those who reach the top will have male heirs. One vol­un­teer will also have his tongue pierced with an iron spike, in which a flam­ing bam­boo rack is in­serted and bal­anced for the du­ra­tion of the fes­ti­val. This is be­lieved to bring luck to the com­mu­nity.

Crowds gather to watch a cer­e­mony where long white ban­ners, rep­re­sent­ing snakes, are raised with the pole

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