Kathmandu [Nepal], September 20 (ANI): Nepal's living deities, Goddess Kumari, Ganesh and Bhairab from Sunday started the tour of inner areas of Kathmandu as a part of the Indra Jatra festival which signals the arrival of the festive season in the Himalayan Nation.
Ascension of three living deities in form of humans on three different chariots which tours round city is an annual festival observed for one week starting from Bhadra Shukla Chaturdashi of Nepali month of Bhadra.
Thousands of devotees from around the valley poured down into the premises of Basatapur Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site to witness the celebration as well as to pay homage to the living Gods in human form.
"This is the very first time that I came here to witness the Jatra. We indeed have a unique culture where we can see Gods in human form and even worship them which really makes me feel blissful," Arju Ghimire, a devotee thronging the ancient durbar square told ANI.
Thousands of devotees throng the Durbar Square to pay homage to the living deities despite the risk of a new variant of COVID-19. Last year, the festival was postponed due to the pandemic.
This year, the procession formally began with the elevation of a lingo (sacred wooden pole) at Hanumandhoka in Basantapur Durbar Square on Saturday.
Various famous masked dances, folk drama, and chariot processions such as Ghintang Kisi, Nawadurga, Pulukisi, Lakhe, Dashavatar created an atmosphere of fun and merriment in the Basantapur Durbar Square area since Saturday.
"It had been a long time that I hadn't come to witness the procession, now I am happy. It is full of bliss," Khadga Bahadur, another devotee told ANI.
Devraj Indra, the God of rains and good harvest is worshipped for a week which starts with the raising of a sacred wooden pole "Lingo" at the premises of Kathmandu Durbar Square. The fourth day of the marathon worshipping festival witnesses singing, mask dance and rejoicing with other rituals.
Nepal has the tradition of worshipping a girl as Kumari from the Newar Community, originals of the Kathmandu Valley after she undergoes various religious tests. The test for choosing a girl as Kumari begins when the chairing Kumari is set to reach the age of puberty. The test for anointing a new Kumari blends the elements of Hinduism and Buddhism.
The selection criteria for aspiring Kumaris is strict and includes a number of specific physical attributes such as an unblemished body, a chest like a lion and thighs like a deer. Even if a girl fulfils all the physical requirements, she must then prove her bravery by not crying at the sight of a sacrificed buffalo.
The fourth day of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadra as per the lunar calendar, the festival of Indra Jatra is celebrated which has been followed for a long time. Legends said that the Indra Jatra festival is observed to celebrate the victory of the gods over the demons to release Jayanta, the son of Lord Indra.
It is believed that Lord Indra came to the earth to collect white flowers for his mother but was caught by the locals (Newar) of the Kathmandu valley. After Lord Indra's identity was disclosed, Newars took out a procession which is continued till now.
Apart from the Kathmandu Valley, Kavre and the Dolakha District of the country also celebrate this festival with fervour.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari visited Hanuman Dhoka at Basantapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu to attend the cultural and historical festival Indra Jatra on Sunday.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JBR, Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Prasad Sapkota, National Assembly Chairperson Ganesh Prasad Timilsina, Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal and Minister for Finance Janardan Sharma among others reached Gaddi Baithak at historic Hanuman Dhoka to observe the annual celebration.
Also, present on the occasion were members of the Council of Ministers, Bagmati Province Assembly members and representatives of the local levels and the likes.
President Bhandari, on the occasion, offered bheti (offering) to Lord Ganesh, Lord Bhairav and Goddess Kumari and observed the chariot procession of the Hindu deities thereafter.
Today is the main day of the festival that began on the Bhadra Shukla Dwadashi (last Saturday). On the same day, President Bhandari received tika and prasad from Goddess Kumari. The ritual has it that the Head of the State swaps khadga (sword) with Goddess Kumari on that day.
Indra Jatra will conclude with a number of ceremonies such as Lakhe Naach, Mahakali Naach, Pulukisi Naach among other dances that make the Indra Jatra celebration a grand festivity among the Newar community. (ANI)