Preparations underway for Indra Jatra (Photo Feature)
Photos: Abhishek Maharjan
Preparations for the Indra Jatra are a vibrant and culturally rich affair that begins well in advance of the main event. The annual traditional festival begins on Bhadra Shukla Chaturdashi, according to the Nepali calendar. The main festival of Indra Jatra falls on September 28 this year.
The festival involves colorful masks and costumes. Tej Bahadur Chitrakar and Narendra Chitrakar seem busy painting the masks of deities including the ‘Halchok Bhairav’ and ‘Dee: Pyakhan’ dance mask, as well as ‘Pulukisi’ (white elephant). These masks are an essential part of the festival’s cultural performances, including the famous Lakhe.
Temples, shrines, and historic sites around the Kathmandu Valley are being given a makeover with repainting, and adorned with colorful decorations to create a festive atmosphere.
The neo-classical palace also known as Gaddi Baithak is also being given a facelift. Gigantic chariots, each dedicated to a specific deity like Kumari, Bhairav, and Ganesha, are kept outside the Gaddi Baithk ahead of the festival.
The performers, often from the local communities, have started practicing the traditional dances associated with different gods, goddesses, and demons for the festival.
Indra Jatra was started by King Gunakamadeva to commemorate the founding of Kathmandu city in the 10th century. The celebrations are held according to the lunar calendar.
As Indra Jatra approaches, the enthusiasm and excitement become palpable. The festival not only celebrates Nepal’s rich cultural heritage but also brings the community together in a spirit of unity and devotion.
It’s a time when locals and visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant colors, rituals, and traditions that define Nepal’s unique cultural identity.
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