Indra Jatra

Indra Jatra, also known as Yenya in the Newari language represents the biggest religious street festival in the capital of Nepal - Kathmandu. The Newari name, Yenya literally tanslates to Kathmandu festival. The celebration, which lasts over a couple of days is generally marked by two major events. Indra Jātrā is marked by masked dances of deities and demons, displays of sacred images and tableaus in honor of the deity Indra, the king of heaven. The other event is Kumāri Jātrā, the chariot procession of the living goddess Kumari. The total duration of the festival is 8 days, from the 12th day of the bright fortnight to the 4th day of the dark fortnight of Yanlā , the eleventh month in the lunar Nepal Era calendar. Since the time of celebration is calculated by the lunar calendar, the dates of the festival change every year.

Indra Jatra began being celebrated when the King Gunakamadeva decided to commemorate the founding of the city of Kathmandu in the 10th century. Kumari Jatra, as part of the Indra Jatra festival was added in the mid-18th century by the king Pratap Malla. The festival starts with Yosin Thanegu, the erection of Yosin or Linga, a pole from which the banner of Indra is unfurled, at Kathmandu Durbar Square. The pole, a tree shorn of its branches and stripped of its bark, is obtained from a forest near Nālā, a small town 29 km to the east of Kathmandu. It is dragged in stages to Durbar Square by men pulling on ropes. The second important even during the first day is Upāku Wanegu when participants visit shrines holding lighted incense to honor deceased family members. They also place small butter lamps on the way.

As many of the Nepalese festivals, Indra Jatra also is based on a story from the Hindu mythology which is considered to be holy. According to the myth, the god Indra (the god of the sky and heaven), disguised as a farmer, descended to earth in search of a white flower that his mother Basundhara needed in order to perform a ritual. As he was plucking the flowers at Maruhiti, a sunken water spout at Maru, the people caught and bound him like a common thief. He was then put on display in the town square of Maru in Kathmandu. His mother, worried about his extended absence, came to Kathmandu and wandered around looking for him. When the city folk realized they had captured Indra himself, they were appalled and immediately released him. Out of appreciation for his release, his mother promised to provide enough dew throughout the winter to ensure a rich crop. It is said that Kathmandu starts to experience foggy mornings from this festival onwards because of this.