Seto Machhindranath Jatra: Chariot Festival of Nepal

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Seto Machindranath Rath jatra is held every year around the end of March (Chaitra Sukla Aastami). Seto Machindranath Rath Jatra is a prominent Kathmandu Valley traditional festival celebrated mostly by native Newari people. The god of rain, Seto Machindranath (White Machindranath), is worshipped. The god Seto Machindranath’s statue is transported up to Jamal Tindhara in a small chariot during the jatra. The statue is then transferred to a larger chariot and driven around Kathmandu’s city center. Ason, Hanumandhoka, Jaisideval, and Lagan are among the places where the chariot is driven.

A large mass of devotees pushes the chariot up to Ason on the first day of the Jatra. The next day, the chariot is hauled from Ason to HanumanDhoka. On the third day, it arrives in Lagan. Pataa Chayegu is a tradition in which money and gliter paper are rolled into various colors of fabric and distributed from the top. The chariot is then dragged around a tree in Maa Seema, which is also the location of Seto Machindranath’s mother’s temple. After one or two days, the statue of Seto Machindranath is returned to its original position, the Jana Bahal temple. In the little Chariot, the statue is transported. This Jatra lasts until the full moon day (Purinima), After three laps of the temple housing Janabaha Dyo’s mother, the procession comes to a conclusion there. Wherever the chariot stops, worshippers bring trays of offerings and light rows of butter lamps to honor the deity. The statue is carried back to the temple on the fourth day after a special ceremony. The chariot has been dismantled and the components are being stored until next year.

Legend Behind Seto Machhindranath Jatra:

People used to swim in the sacred river and visit Swayambhunath during the reign of King Yakshya Malla, and it is believed that this lead them to heaven after death. When Yamraj (God of Death) heard of Swayambhunath’s power, he paid a visit to the sacred temple. King Yakshya Malla and his Tantric Guru captured him on his way back from the Temple, demanding immortality and refusing to let Yamraj depart. As a result, Yamraj pleaded to Arya Awalokiteshwor (Seto Machindranath) for his release. When the God heard his petition, he appeared out of the river. The god was white and had half-closed eyes. He then advised the king to construct a temple where the Kalmati and Bagmati rivers meet, as well as to prepare a chariot procession, in order for the God to visit the people and bless them with happiness and long life.

Seto Machhindranath Jatra: The chariot:

The idol of Seto Machhindranath is taken from his temple in Jana Baha and conveyed in a palanquin to Durbar Marg, where the actual procession begins, during the festival. It is mounted in a car that is shaped like a tower on wheels. The chariot’s four massive wheels each signify a different avatar of Bhairav. The chariot contains ten floors, which are thought to be the homes of the gods Indra, Barun, Kuber, Agni, Nairithya, Bayubya, Bramha, Mahadev, and Narayan. Seto Machindranath’s idol is situated on the chariot’s first floor. The area, which is adorned with valuable stones, is said to be guarded by two more idols of Goddess Tara’s two avatars.

Seto Machhindranath Jatra: The Ritual:

Every year in the month of Poush, the deity is bathed and repainted. The event takes place on the eighth day of the bright fortnight of Pohel, Nepal’s third lunar month. The god is brought into the temple’s courtyard at this ceremony. All of the deity’s jewelry and clothing are removed. The god is then bathed with numerous containers of cold and hot water, as well as milk, ghee, and honey. The temple priests are in charge of all of the actions. The presence of the living goddess Kumari at this ritual is the main attraction.

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