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Indra Jatra


The 8 day long Indra Jatra Festival begins on the 12th day ( Dwadasi) of the bright fortnight ( waxing moon) of lunar month Bhadra and concludes on the 4th day ( Chaturthi) of the dark fortnight ( Waning moon) of lunar month Ashwin but the most important day is the 3rd day when the procession of Kumari-the Living Goddess and other deities are taken out.

The 8 day long Indra Jatra Festival begins on the 12th day ( Dwadasi) of the bright fortnight ( waxing moon) of lunar month Bhadra and concludes on the 4th day ( Chaturthi) of the dark fortnight ( Waning moon) of lunar month Ashwin but the most important day is the 3rd day when the procession of Kumari-the Living Goddess and other deities are taken out.

The festival begins, when a long wooden pole, carefully selected and cut in the Nala forest of Kavre District, is erected in front of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace in Durbar Square. A flag of Lord Indra is tied at the apex of the pole. A young male goat is sacrificed to the forest deity before the tree is brought down to carve the pole. The giant facade of Aakash Bhairab, which remains hidden behind the caged bar throughout the year, is opened today for the next three days. Local Newari ethnics pour the home brewed beer into the mouth of Bhairab and people compete to get a sip when the drink spouts out.People display the images of Lord Indra and make sacrifices of goats and roosters. There will be a brief dances during the pole erecting ceremony. The palace sends the white horse and state's sword as representative of the state head to attend the ceremony.

The third day is special and spectacular for the onlookers. Today, Kumari- the Living Goddess of Nepal comes out from the seclusion of her residence and tours the city on a temple chariot. Along with Kumari, other deities like Ganesha-the elephant headed God, and Bhairav are also paraded throughout the city. The state head, currently the President, accompanied with high government officials and bureaucrats pays homage to the Goddess Kumari during these days and get empowered for a year to rule the country. Various masked dances are staged in the Durbar Square.

The festival ends when the pole is brought down on the day of Ashwin Krishna Chaturthi-the 4th day of the dark half of lunar month Ashwin.

The legend goes that Lord Indra's mother ordered Indra to get some parijat, a flower of jasmine family for some rituals. The flower was extinct in the heaven and so Indra descended to the earth and sneaked into the garden of a local. Unfortunate Indra was caught and taken prisoner by the farmer. Then his mother came down to the earth and negotiated with the locals for his release. The locals agreed to release Indra but on the condition that he would return to the earth every year during that time and be displayed as prisoner for 7 days and that he would pour enough rain (dew) for the crops. So, during this festival, images of Lord Indra are displayed for 7 days, but in captivity.