Seto Machhindranath Jatra is one of the biggest chariot festivals celebrated inside Kathmandu valley. It is a three-day long chariot procession honoring the god of rain, which in local language. The festival is also known as Jana Bāhā Dyah Jātrā. The chariot of Seto Machindranath is pulled from place to place during these three days. Each day when the chariot reaches its terminus, a group of soldiers fires their rifles into the air.
Story behind Seto Machhindranath Jatra
According to the myth, during the regime of of Yakshya Malla, the king of Kantipur, people used to bathe in a holy river and visit Swayambhunath which was believed to possess the power of sending people to heaven after death. Once Yamraj (God of Death) came to know the power of Swayambhunath and visited the holy temple immediately. During his return from the temple he was captured by King Yakshya Malla and his Guru who possessed powers and demanded immortality.
As they didn’t let Yamraj escape, he prayed to Arya Awalokiteshwor (Seto Machhindranath) to free him. The God heard his prayers and immediately appeared from the water. The god was white in color with his eyes half closed. He told the king to form a temple where Kalmati and Bagmati met and to organize chariot procession so that the God could visit the people and bless them with contentment and long life. Since then, people started to celebrate this 3 days long procession to honor the god.
3 days long procession of Seto Machhindranath
On the first day of the festival, the icon of Jana Baha Dyah is removed from his temple at Jana Baha. It is carried in a movable shrine to Durbar Marg, which is the place to start the procession. In Durbar Marg, the chariot is pulled through Jamal and Asan, where it finally makes an overnight cessation. The next day, it is passed through Indra Chowk to Kathmandu Durbar Square. In the final day, 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 conceded back to temple of Jana Baha, and then is disassembled and the parts are kept for the next year.
People from all around Kathmandu come to witness this amazing procession. Since, they have strong faith on god, they offer prayers and flowers to the Chariot. The Chariot is pulled by so many people and it is believed that many wishes will be fulfilled if you are part of pulling the chariot procession.
Photo Credit: Street Nepal