Indra Jatra is the celebration of God Indra’s Day, who is the god of rain and the king of the Heaven and of the gods. Indra Jatra is a festival only observed in Kathmandu. Some believe Indra Jatra is the day for thanking Indra for the rain, while others believe that it is celebrated to honor Bahirab, who is Shiva’s manifestation and believed as destroyer of evil. The festival begins each year from the day of the Bhadra Dwadasi to Ashwin Krishna Chaturdasi (around Bhadra and Ashwin; September, in Gregorian calendar). It extends for eight days. The main venue of the festivities is Kathmandu Durbar Square.
The festival begins with the carnivalized erection of The Linga (Yasingh), a ceremonial pole, accompanied by the rare display of the deity Akash Bhairab, represented by a massive mask spouting Jaad and Raksi (Nepali local liquors). Households around Kathmandu (especially Newars) display images and sculptures of Indra and Bhairab during this time. The thirty-six feet long wooden pole (The Linga) is selected with utmost care from the Nala forest in Kavre district. According to traditional beliefs, Indra had received this flag from Lord Vishnu for protection.
Finally, the Kumari (living goddess), departs the seclusion of her temple in a palanquin and leads a parade through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra. The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons.
The procession consists of:
- Majipa Lakhey
- Sawan Bhaku
- Ganesh (Chariot)
- Kumar (Chariot)
- Kumari (Chariot)
Apart from these, various dances are held on the open stages of the city. There is a display of Swet Bhairav as well as various deities of the city.