Bhoto Jatra – The story of the Bhoto Jatra Festival
Bhoto Jatra or Bhoto Dekhaauney Jatra is a Festival that is celebrated in Patan, while paying homage to the God of Rain , “Raato Machindranath”. The festival of Raato Machindranath is a month long festival while Bhoto dekhaauney Jatra happens in a certain day of that month. It is believed Bhoto Dekhauney Jatra brings good luck to all. The Bhoto is an ornamented vest from a long time back and holds alot of history with it. This Jatra is celebrated till date, and you can see a Rath ( chariot) being constructed in Patan in the preparation for the Jatra.
The story of the Bhoto Jatra goes something like this:
Once upon a time the Serpent God who lived with his queen in the taudaha lake, and one day the queen fell ill, worried the serpent god Karkotaka searched widely for a physician and at that time , Jyapus ( Newar farmers) were also called physician as they knew about the vegetation and its uses the most. So, the Serpent god asked for his help and as he went to help the queen with various herbs , the illness was cured. Being pleased with this, the serpent god gave the farmer with many bountiful gifts and among these gifts were a Bhoto decorated with ornaments, it glimmered and shone , the Farmer used to wear the Bhoto in special occasions only, and one day a Ghost saw the Bhoto being worn by the Farmer and this made the Ghost want the Bhoto because of its beauty.
The Ghost would follow the farmer every where just to get a chance to take the Bhoto away from the Farmer , But the chance did not come until one day, when the Farmer went to the field to work wearing the Bhoto, and as on that very day the heat was at its peak, the Farmer took off his Bhoto because of the heat, and he kept the Bhoto in a Basket with all his other belongings, the Ghost had followed him to the field as well, as he saw the chance of being able to take the Bhoto that was of such beauty because of the ornaments embedded in it.
The Bhoto Jatra Story Book
The Ghost took away the Bhoto and as the Farmer noticed what had happened , it was too late, As the farmer ran after the Ghost, he couldn’t catch up to the Ghost ,and he was devastated that he had lost his most prized possession, The farmer thought about how to get the Bhoto back and realized that the rath of Raato Machindranath would be pulled in a few days and on that event , even the ghosts and other spiritual beings would come down to worship the rain god , to get his blessings, and the farmer immediately waited for the rath to be pulled in Jawalakhel, where even the ghost that had taken his Bhoto was present, The farmer visited the Jatra as he knew even the ghosts would be visiting it , and as he went to the event amongst the crowd he saw the Ghost wearing his Bhoto, He crept towards the Ghost slowly and then grabbed him, soon a fight broke out between the farmer and the ghost and it caused a huge commotion during the rath pulling ceremony.
Coincidentally, Kind Guna Kamadev had also attended the rath pulling ceremony and had noticed the commotion, As he brought both the ghost and the Farmer before him, the king asked whom the Bhoto belonged and both party said it belonged to them, seeing this the King asked for a proof, to which both of them didn’t have one, so the next day the Farmer went to the serpent god and asked for his presence to prove that the Bhoto was indeed of the Farmers,the farmer even told the serpent god how the ghost had stolen his Bhoto and now claimed it to be his. Hearing this the serpent god said he would be present the next day during the rath pulling ceremony and tell the King Guna Kamadev that it indeed belonged to the farmer, but the next day, the serpent king didn’t show up and as both the parties couldn’t prove to whom the Bhoto belonged to , the King gave its authority to the Machindranath Guthii of Patan.
The Bhoto was then stored along side the image of Raato Machindranath and every year, at the end of the rath pulling ceremony the Bhoto is brought forth and shown to the people in hope that someone would come with a proof and take the Bhoto away, But till date as no one has been able to show that the Bhoto belonged to them with ample proof the Bhoto is still kept with the image of Raato Machindranath and always brought forth for someone to claim it with proof. The Bhoto showing ceremony is always blessed with the presence of the Kumari of Patan who watches it from her resting area, she too comes in a rath on that day and watches the entire ceremony and blesses the attendants with tikas and flowers.
During the reign of the king the Bhoto jatra was viewed by His Majesty King Gyanendra as well. But now as theres democracy the President of the country comes and watches the ceremony. The ceremony takes place in Pulchowk, then Gahabahal, Sundhara and then ends in Jawalakhel, where the rath of the Raato machindranath also rests , and then as the ceremony ends the Bhoto is packed once again and given to the Mahaguthi sanga of Patan, and specifically handed to the head of the Mahaguthi sanga of Patan for safe keeping with the image of the Raato Machindranath in Bunga mati where it rests till next year when it is shown once again for someone to come forth and claim the Bhoto.
Very interesting, thank you.