Nepali New Year and Bisket Jatra
Nepali New Year is known as “Navavarsha” in Nepal. Nepal has its official calendar that begins from the first day of the first month of Baisakh. This very first day is observed as Nepali New Year. This day usually falls in the second week of April according to the Gregorian calendar. People go for picnics, have get-togethers, and celebrate the day socializing in various ways as this day is also a national holiday. The Bisket Jatra Festival of Bhaktapur coincides with Nepali New Year. There is a legend that every man who married the Bhaktapur Princess died during the honeymoon night. So, one brave prince stayed awake during the night to see what caused the deaths. He saw that two serpents came out of the nostrils of the princess when she was asleep. The prince quickly took out his sword and chopped the serpent’s head off the body.
The next morning, the serpents were displayed on a pole in Bhaktapur amidst celebrations that continue till today in the form of the Bisket Jatra Festival. Still, the symbolic pole is erected in Taumadhi Tole of Bhaktapur during this festival. After two days of the erection of the pole, images of Lord Bhairab and his female counterpart Bhadra are enshrined in two large chariots and pulled through crowds of cheering onlookers. When the chariot reaches a sloping open square, there is a tug-of-war between the inhabitants of the upper and lower parts of the town. Winners are considered to be blessed with good fortune for the coming year. The festival concludes with several days of dancing and worship.
Bisket Jatra is also celebrated in Thimi and Balakhu with Jibro Chhedne Jatra and Sindoor Jatra respectively. The festivities conclude with several days of the spiritual entrance, dancing, and merry-making.
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