Next event may be in the year 2024
Coincidence of 5 astrological events for the date to take place
Dipankha Yatra, in 2013 October 18 -19, was taken out from the Basu Barna Mahavihar in Nagbahal, Lalitpur and headed towards Chobhar. From Chobhar, the procession was passed through Kimdole, Swayambhu, Mehpi, Lazimpat, Bouddha, Changunarayan and concluded in Lagankhel. The length of the route was 70 km in total.
That was a religious march on Buddhist faith but other than Buddhists also took part with open hearts believing on prayer for humanistic cause.
Devotees walk through the journey barefooted to 131 religious destinations within 2 days.
Roughly 100,000 devotees participated in the holy journey. Many of them completed the 70 km walk while some participated in starting and left in the middle or before completion, some joined in the middle and some mixed up before the end.
Thousands of volunteers were engaged serving the devotees for relieving tiredness and resting for further good walks.
The earlier event was organised on October 17, 2005. This was organised in an interval of 38 years.
This Yatra takes place once in a long interval of 8 years,12 years or even 20 years because it can only be held during the period of Pancha Yoga, that is, when five auspicious astronomical occasions occur at the same time.
The five occasions are Sankranti (first day of the month in Solar calendar), Purnima (full moon), Rewati Nakshatra (an astrological event), Harshan Yoga (another astrological event) and Chandra Grahan (Lunar eclipse).The religious astrologists and the priests recommend the day to hold the Yatra.
It is also believed that a white bull comes to Nag bahal area at one midnight when everybody is in sound sleep. The bull eats the grass of the park which symbolizes of ‘Dipankha Yatra’ as coming near.
There is a Buddhist legend behind this religious march. The bull is believed to be an avatar of Buddha in his past life. The white Bull calf was born with blue horns. The Bull was full of compassion and kindness. It always had a sense of helping others who are suffering. Despite being a bull, it followed the principles of Lord Buddha. It would also come to show obeisance to Lord Buddha. One day, the bull was late to worship Lord Buddha because of being engaged in helping others. It was already dawn when he reached Lord’s monastery so he hid himself by shining brightly and petrified into a stone bull. Then, a mandala appeared mysteriously where it petrified.
It is also said that the Bull was captivated and kept in Pashupatinath’s Kailash secretly.
Spiritual Tantric rituals were performed to make the Bull return to the monastery. Because of the Tantrism, it felt uneasy to stay in Kailash and hence it stayed in Kailash for 3 months. It then started wandering around many Chaityas and Temples until he was within Yogambar mandala and was finally enlightened and established in Nag bahal.
The destinations of the Yatra are the holy places where the Bull resided. So, Yatra is all about walking to the shrines and holy places where the holy Bull resided. Although there is a controversy between Hindu and Buddhist belief behind this Yatra, secularism prevails and the Yatra has been taking place since decades peacefully, with tolerance between both the Hindu and Buddhist devotees.
During the Yatra, people start off at around 3:00 am from Nag bahal, Patan (Lalitpur) and spend the night in Khasti (Bouddha). The people of Bouddha provide free lodging in hotels, guesthouses and even in their own residences, however, mostly the travellers prefer to sleep or rest on the floor around the Bouddha Stupa.
The Yatra is to conclude in Mahalaxmisthan, Lagankhel (Lalitpur). After the completion of the journey, the travellers are offered Sagun(duck’s egg, dried fish fried and alcohol)by putting Tika on their forehead by their families celebrating completion the religious journey successfully.
Dipankha Yatra is indeed one of the rare festivals in Nepal. The local people are trying hard to preserve this decade old tradition in every way possible.
The other Dipankha Yatra may be organised in the year 2024, an active person who was engaged in organisation of the religious journey in 2013 say. (By Purna N. Ranjitkar)