Nepal FESTIVAL MUST-SEE: BISKET JATRA
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