The chariot procession of Machhindranath, locally known as Machhindranath Jatra is a festival honoring Lord Machhindranath, who is one of the eighty-four mahasiddhas and the guru of Gorakhnath. This is held in Kathmandu valley, in the districts of Kathmandu and Lalitpur. The jatra held in Kathmandu is the Seto Machhindranath Jatra, and the one held in Lalitpur is the Rato Machhindranath Jatra. Both the chariots have the deities of similar names, i.e. Seto Machhindranath and Rato Machhindranath respectively. Both of them are held in early summer every year, and have similar beliefs and cultures. Machhindranath is the deity related to rain, and is also considered to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva by the Hindu people.
The Rato Machhindranath Jatra is the chariot procession honoring Rato Machhindranath, who is also known as Bunga Dyah (Avalokiteśvara), a Buddhist Diety of compassion and the God of Rain. The whole process of the procession is similar to that of the Seto Machhindranath Jatra, but it is greater and the route is also longer, making it the longest chariot procession held in Nepal. This festival is usually held in April or May according to the International Calendar, and in the month of Chaitra or Baisakh according to the Bikram Sambat Nepali Calendar. The chariot is 32-feet tall, and is constructed every year in Pulchowk in Lalitpur District. The image of Bunga Dyah is brought from his temple and is installed in the chariot. The procession starts at Pulchok and passes through Gabahal, Hakha, Sundhara, Lagankhel and ends at Jawlakhel. This takes almost a month to end. As per time-honored tradition, the chariot is pulled exclusively by women on the stretch between the localities of Iti and Thati. This part of the chariot procession is known as Yakah Misaya Bhujya. At the end of this procession, Bhoto Jatra is held to conclude it.
Bhoto Jatra (vest festival) is the climax of the chariot procession of Bunga Dyah Jatra. After the two chariots arrive in Jawalakhel, astrologers choose an auspicious date to hold the Bhoto Jatra festival. On the appointed day in the presence of the head of state, a government official climbs on to the chariot and holds up a jewel-studded black vest from the four sides of the chariot so that all the people gathered around can have a look at it.
The Chariot of Seto Machhindranath is called as Jana Bāhā Dyah Jātrā by the local Newar community people, who are the tribes who celebrate the procession every year in Asan of Kathmandu district. It begins 8th day and ends in the 10th day of the Nepal Era (Nepal Sambat Calendar), which is usually in the month of March or April according to International calendar, and in the month of Falgun/Chaitra according to the Bikram Sambat Nepali Calendar. This is held honoring the Buddhist diety Aryavalokitesvara, who is also known as White Machhendranath or White Karunamaya. In this festival, the icon or image of Jana Baha Dyah is removed from his temple at Jana Baha and is carried in a portable shrine to Durbar Marg, which is the place to start the procession. In Durbar Marg, the chariot is kept in a car and pulled through Jamal and Asan, where it finally makes an overnight halt. The next day, it is passed through Indra Chowk to Kathmandu Durbar Square, and in the final day, it is pulled it is pulled from there through Maru, Chikan Mugal to Mugal, where it makes three rounds of the Jana Baha Dyo temple. After this, it is carried back to temple of Jana Baha, and then is disassembled and the parts are kept for the next year.
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