Indra Jatra or Yenya is the religious street festival observed mainly in Nepal. Ye means ‘Kathmandu’ and Ya means ‘celebration’ which put together means ‘celebration in Kathmandu’. It falls in Nepali Bhadra Month that is in between August to September and lasts for eight days. This celebration has two major events: Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra. The Indra Jatra festival witnesses masked dances of demons and deities, sacred image displays and plays in the honour of Lord Indra. In Kumari Jatra, there is a chariot procession of Kumari, the living goddess. Read about the Indra Jatra festival in greater detail below!
Origin, History and Significance of Indra Jatra
The event that explains about Indra Jatra festival origin is: Once during the Vedic times, Lord Indra, the legend, the God of rain, came down to Kathmandu to steal a particular flower for Dagini, his mother. Since nobody knew about who Lord Indra was, captivated and imprisoned him. Unfortunately, Lord Indra’s elephant made rounds of Kathmandu in search of his master but could not find him. Ultimately, his worried mother descended to Earth. She revealed their identity to the people, and the King readily released Lord Indra. The happy mother promised the people two things: First to take back the people who died last year to heaven every year and second to shower enough dew and rain to ascertain a good crop harvest every year.
While the Indra Jatra festival is predominantly a Nepalese festival but it is celebrated with great zeal by the Newar community in Sikkim too! The major significance of celebrating this festival is to seek blessings from Lord Indra so that he blesses the place with ample rainfall each year.
When is Indra Jatra celebrated?
The colourful cultural Indra Jatra festival is celebrated around August to September for eight days and brings the whole valley to life and full of colours. The celebrations start from the 12th day of the bright fortnight until the 4th day of the dark fortnight lying in the 11th month of Nepal Era calendar. Since these celebrations, according to the lunar calendar, the dates change each year. In 2020, the festival took place from 30th August to 6th September, with the major day being 1st September. In 2021, the festival will be celebrated on 22nd August.
How is Indra Jatra celebrated and where to go?
Indra Jatra festival coincides with the Kumari Jatra festival. Indra Jatra festival begins with erecting a flagpole. This pole of ten meters length is selected carefully and then set up outside the Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu. During this time a huge dance ceremony happens, commemorating Lord Indra. Experience the extravagant folk-theatre form of Nepal known as Indra Mahal Jatra. In many Kathmandu Temples, goats, buffaloes, fishes, roosters, nuts and other tributes are being offered to the goddesses and gods. At the end of the ceremony, these offerings are distributed among the crowd.
Alongside the Kumari Jatra celebration also begins. In this celebration, beautiful chariots carrying living Goddess Kumari passes through three different routes for three days.
Once the ceremonial pole is erected, the screened door of white Bhairava is opened. Bhairava’s face is displayed in front of Kumari’s chariot procession. Except for the official display of Bhairava, you will find masks of Bhairava being prepared by residents all around the streets of Kathmandu. This signifies Goddess Kumari is always under the protection of Bhairava.
When Goddess Kumari passes in front of the white Bhairava mask, she stops to greet him. Post this greet; you can hear music sound throughout Kathmandu streets. Beer starts flowing through Bhairava’s mouth. A small goldfish is put to swim in this beer. According to Nepalese, a sip of this beer brings good luck.
The various masked dances that are performed during this time in Kathmandu valley are Pulu Kisi, Majipa Lakhey, Sawa Bhakku, Devi Pyakhan, Mahakali Pyakhan.
To enjoy this vibrant festival in full galore, you should visit the beautiful city of Kathmandu during the time of the festival. Witness the magnificent Indra Mahal Jatra set up, enjoy masked dances and procession of living Goddess Kumari.
You can also experience the same zeal of this festival in a few places in India as well. These are:
Sikkim: The Newar community in the city of Gangtok, celebrates this festival since 2010 with complete enthusiasm. The celebration contains masked dance forms, folk-theatre in front of Indra Mahal set-up and Kumari procession.
Terai: Lying on the Nepal and Indian border and being a part of both, Indra Jatra is celebrated as Indra Puja here. Here also people set-up Indra Mahal and perform folk-theatre.
Odisha: Although Odisha doesn’t celebrate the Indra Jatra festival. But Jatra is the biggest source of entertainment in the state. You can relish the famous folk-theatre Jatra with a local touch known as Odia Jatra if you happen to be in Odisha. There is also a famous tv show called Odia Jatra that is based on the life of Jatra actors.
If you wish to be a part of this popular and magnificent festivity, redBus can take you to your desired locations. It has a well-connected route of buses with top-notch facilities. Prior booking is advised since it is the most preferred brand to travel with. To make your bookings either visit the website or download the redBus app now!