Matya Festival of Light

Matya festival in Patan 23-August-2013 by Supriya.

Matya is a typical festival of Newar community of Lalitpur which in Newari means the festivals of lights. This interesting festival begins early in the morning on the third day of the dark fortnight of Shrawan (August). Matya comes after the festival of  Qwati punhi (Janai purnima) and Gaijatra.

This festival is a long parade of the enthusiastic shrine-walkers who go round all the Buddhist shrines scattered in and around the city of Patan. It must be remembered here that Patan alone has more than 1300 Buddhist shrines. The number of shrine-walkers who colorfully from this impressive parade is around three to four thousands. men and women both participate in this festival. They carry variety of interesting gifts to make offerings to Lord Buddha. The offerings of rice, grains, flowers, red powders, sweets, incense and guru patra (a gift cup for guru) are quite common tin the scene. It is interesting to note that the majority of the shrine-walker are the lamp offers to the shrines. Offering lamps in particular to the Buddha on this day is said to signify great enlightenment obtained by overcoming the Maras (temptations).

There is very interesting story about the origins of this festival. Once Shakya Muni  Gautam was in deep penance to attain Nirvana. The Maras, awfully jealous of his determinatjon came down to detract him. They came disguising themselve in differen t forms. Some weare in the form of fierce-looking domons and some in apsara from (damsls) and so on . They all made very possible attempt to seduce him but all in vain. In a longrun Shakya Muni overcame the Maras and became Buddha, the enlightened one. It is said that later on the Maras came to confess their sin to lord Buddha and worshipped him with grat honor. Ever since this festival is believed to have come into existence to mark this great day.

It is interesting to note that the then different neighborhoods. of Patan have long been devoted to the regular running of this festival parade. The responsibility of organizing this parade goes to each of those neighborhoods once in every ten years. There is very interesting tradition according to which the sponsoring Tole of this parade must train a team of traditional drum-Players who are expected to display every best skill they have when they are asked to perform in the public on this day. The name of these drummers team is known as Naubaja Khalah. They perform this show in a very special way only at the member Toles devoted to this Matys festival.

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