Happy Rato Machindranath Jatra!
Rato Machindranath Jatra
Rato Machindranath Jatra is one of the longest chariots pulling festival of Patan. It runs for a month and takes place sometime during April-May. Macchindranath (or Bunga Dyah in Newari) is a god of rain. The word Rato Machhindra was derived as a result of the red color of the deity’s idol. This festival is one of the oldest and the longest festival celebrated in Patan. During the procession, the image of Bunga Dyah is placed on a tall chariot about 65 feet high and pulled in stages through the streets of Patan for a month.
Every Jatra has its own story. Furthermore, this Jatra is about the saint who was brought from Assam by a farmer to bring rain in valley. Different writers have collected different stories of him. The story says, Machhindra is the god of rain, and the Jatra is celebrated just before the monsoon season starts so that the city will get plenty rainfall for good growth of crops. There are many interesting facts in this Jatra, one of the main focuses is the coconut dropping part. After reaching Lagankhel, and one coconut is dropped from the top of the chariot. It’s believed that if someone is able to grab the coconut, then his wishes will be fulfilled and will be blessed with a baby boy and will have an auspicious year ahead.
This chariot pulling festival ends with BhotoJatra in Jawlakhel. Like other stories, the Bhoto Jatra has its own story. As per the legend, Bhoto (a black velvet vest with precious jewel like diamonds) is said to be given to a farmer by Karkot Naga in reward for curing an eye disease of his wife, but was stolen. Afterwards while attending the Macchindranath Jatra, the farmer spotted a person wearing same vest. A fight broke off. Karkot Naga, who was in human form attending the Jatra, settled the quarrel and submitted the Bhoto to Machindranath for safe-keeping .From that time every year the Bhoto is shown to the general public asking “whom does this Bhoto (vest) belong to?”
After the end of Jatra, Rato Machhindranth rests six months in his temple.
Sanju Dongol | Kathmandu | Photo: SPACES Magazine | Duke Nepal