Born in Kathmandu as a Newar, I clearly have no idea just why it took me 28 years to witness my first Indra Jatra. It was only after seeing my first (last year), I realized how much value our traditions had and how foolish I had been all these years.
Indra Jatra (Kumari Jatra) is one of the greatest festivals celebrated in Kathmandu Valley. The festival is marked to thank Indra (God of rain) for the wonderful showers during the monsoon. It is also marked as the end of one glorious monsoon season.
The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons. Yanyā Punhi (Indra Jatra) is a holiday related to Hindu god, king of heaven, Indra. The festival begins with the carnival-like erection of Yosin, a ceremonial pole, accompanied by the rare display of the deity Aakash Bhairab, represented by a massive mask spouting beer and liquor. Households throughout Kathmandu display images and sculptures of Indra and Bhairab only at this time of year. Finally, the Kumari (Living Goddess), or virgin goddess, leaves the seclusion of her temple in a palanquin and leads a procession through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra, the rain god.
It is said that Indra’s mother needed Parijat, a type of flower, for some religious ritual so Indra disguised as a human being came to the earth to fetch them. But, he was recognized when he was to steal the flowers so the people caught him and tied him with ropes the statue of which is still worshipped in Maru Tole in Kathmandu. This image is also put on display with others in different parts of the city during Indra Jatra festival.
Indra Jatra is a very interesting festival because for the whole week people enjoy various traditional dances and witness the chariot of Goddess Kumari, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Bhairav, being pulled through the older parts of the Kathmandu city. A day has been added to the original seven days of celebration and on that day known as Nanicha yaa the chariots are pulled through Naradevi, Nhyokha, Ason, Indrachowk and Hanuman Dhoka. This extra day of chariot pulling was introduced by King Jaya Prakash Malla in 1765 B.S.
It is also the day in which King Prithvi Narayan Shah dramatically captured Kathmandu, from the Malla Dynasty, when the people of Kathmandu were merry in their celebrations. The end of the Indra Jatra festival heralds the beginning of Dashain and Tihar celebrated with great enthusiasm not only in the Kathmandu Valley but throughout the country.
Forget the times you got unwillingly soaked in the rain. And remember, Momos taste amazing during the monsoons. This year, Sunday, 11th September, get yourself and a camera at Basantapur Darbar Square if you want to be a spectator to this enchanting festival.
(Thank you wikipedia.com)