May 27, 2024, Monday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

A season to celebrate Pahan Charhe, Biska, Bajrayogini Jatra and more

The Nepal Weekly
April 9, 2024
The grand event of Pahan Charhe at Asan, Kathmandu

Pahan Charhe is a festival celebrated by the Newars of central Kathmandu city. The festival falls on the fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight and the day after. The festival sees the invitation of beloved guests and members of the family to take part in a magnificent feast prepared for the occasion.

Statues of gods and goddesses like Ganesh and Ajimas (AshtaMatrika) with different names are carried in temple shaped palanquins by devotees are taken round to Hanumandhoka durbar area, Tundikhel and Asan mainly.

The festival is celebrated for three days, the first day sees the worship of the deity of Luku Mahadyo (Lord Shiva in hiding). Luku in Newari means hidden whereas Mahadyah is a local name for Lord Shiva. This day sees members of the household clean their homes and surroundings and make offerings to the deity. At Nyeta (Naradevi) a special mask dance of the Nyetamaru Ajima (Swetakali) is performed. The sacred dance features performers dressed in the traditional colours of the Ajima’s with a mask perform tales of Swetakali. The dance is in an archaic form of storytelling, which starts in the evening and continues through the night.

The Ajima’s are protective goddesses placed by the Malla Kings in early period of their regime at strategic locations around the city to forming a protective ring.

The protective goddesses are symbolized as the shakti (strength) of Male Gods. The eight mother goddesses are Brahmayani (The Shakti of Lord Brahma), Maheswari (The Shakti of Lord Shiva), Bal Kumari (The Shakti of Lord Bhairav), Vaishnavi (The Shakti of Lord Vishnu), Varahi (The Shakti of Lord Narayan), Indrayani (The Shakti of Lord Indra) whereas Chamunda and Mahalaxmi are fierce manifestations of Goddess Kali and Laxmi.

On the second day, which is also known as Dyo Lwakegu is celebrated at the open field of Tudikhel. During when shrines of the Ajima are placed in a palanquin and paraded in their respective locals in Kathmandu.

The day also sees the celebration of the annual Ghode Jatra, one of the most important festivals of the Newars. The legends of the Gurumapa are stories with which Newar children grow up with and is folklore in the valley.

During the night, the gods and goddesses in palanquin is taken to Tudikhhel which is followed by an entourage of devotees and traditional Newari musical ensemble. Each community brings forth a flame torch which is exchanged symbolizing the meeting of the goddesses.

The third and final day of the festival sees the gathering of huge masses at the old city centre of Asan. The palanquins of Lunmari Ajima (Maheshwari), Kanga Ajima (Chamunda) and Tebhaa Ajima (Varahi) are brought there in respective palanquins and paraded in the street. These Ajimas are considered to be sisters. The historic market place sees the meeting of the individuals of the respective locales-who all wear coloured hats of red, blue and yellow which are respective of the localities.

During the Dyo Lwakegu ceremony, participants accompanying the shrines exchange flaming torches. Devotees offer Chatanmari (traditional rice bread) to the deities and during this day can be seen thrown from the rooftops of in Asan. Traditional seasonal songs are placed the musical ensemble during the meeting of the gods, where participants can be celebrating with avid fanfare and dancing to the beautiful melody.

Moreover, the season is for celebrating BiskaJatra in Thimi, Nagdesh, Bode and Bhaktapur. Bajra Yogini Jatra at Sankhu and BalkumatriJatra at Sunakoti in Lalitpur also.

Biska Jatra

Bisket Jatra: Vibrant Jatra and Advent of New Year - Nepal Sanctuary Treks
Biska Jatra at Tamadhi, Bhaktapur

BiskaJatra is one of Bhaktapur’s most popular festivals. The aesthete considers it to be one of the city’s most valued festivals, with both cultural and historical significance. This event falls on the very first day of the new year of Bikram Sambat, the Solar based calendar. This Jatra is also called Bisket Jatra and Vishwodhoj Jatra.

The main attraction of this Jatra is the Yosindyo, erecting of a long wooden pole. It is a sky-high unbending pole that locals erect on the last day of the month of Chaitra. And then lie down in the next eve. Somehow, this process of lying the lingo down is well known as the Satruhanta Jatra which means seeing the downfall of the enemy.

The pulling chariots of chariots of Bhairava and Bhadrakali is vibrant event of BiskaJatra. People assemble and collide with the chariot of against each other during the festival.

The Jatra at Thimi, Bode and Nagdesh Sindoor Jatra

BiskaJatra is celebrated in Thimi, Bode and Nagdesh also, but little earlier than that of Biaksa Jatra in Bhaktapur.

During the festival, devotees gather and take out a procession carrying 32 chariots containing the idols of several gods and goddesses in Madhyapur Thimi. People smear each other with Sindoor (orange vermillion powder) as in the Holi festival and sing and dance to the tune of traditional music during the procession.

People from different parts of Thimi gather at Siddhikali Temple on 1st of Baishak at late evningwhere as on 2nd of Baisak at Balkumari Temple on 2nd of Baishak at late morning carrying chariot of their own deities.

In Bode, the tongue is an offering - The Record
Jatra at Bode, togue piecing is one important part of the festival

In Bode, a place close to Thimi celebrate tongue piercing ceremony where resident marchers to different parts of the city with his tongue pierced by iron needle of about one feet long. A team of traditional music players, local people and visitors march along with the person carrying Chilakh on his shoulder.

Each year, on the second day of the Nepalese New Year, Bode witnesses a tongue-piercing ceremony. One resident spends the whole day with an iron spike piercing his tongue and roams the city carrying multiple fiery torches called Mahadip on his shoulder.

SINDOOR JATRA - Street Nepal
Jatra at Thimi

As per the locals, this practice will bring good luck to the city. It is believed that with this act being done, there will be the blessing of god bestowed upon them. As a result, there will be no drought or excessive rain, no shortage of food, and any kind of illness.

The tongue piercing festival is one of the famous festivals of the nation run at the community level bearing the entire financial burden.

Sankhu (also known as Sakwa), situates 17 km from Chabahil, Kathmandu is an ancient town predominated by the Newars. The town is famous for its rich cultural heritage and traditional architecture and sculptures. The Bajrayogini temple at the hill at its north direction is one of the beautiful place.

Bajrayogini Jatra – An cultural Affair Of Sankhu – Culturesofnepal
Bajrayogini Jatra at Sankhu

Bajrayogini Jatra at Sankhu is celebrated every year in the month of April (Chaitra/Baishak) for eight-long days where the idols of the Gods from the Bajrayogini temple are brought down to the town and carried around the entire town. Priests accompany the idols of the two big idols Mhasukhwamaju (yellow-faced goddess) and Chibadyo (the chaitya/stupa shaped idol – husband of Mhasukhwamaju) while two small idols of their children Singini (lioness) and Byangini (tigress) are carried in smaller chariots by the children of the community. BajrayoginiJatra is very famous among Newar Community so from different locality people gather to observe this festival. Culturally, Sankhu is famous for two events; the Salinadi mela and the Bajrayogini Jatra festival.

Vibrant festivals in Ganedyo Jatra and taking bath at Baaisadhara at Balaju in Kathmandu and Balkumari Jatra at Sunakothi in Laltpur also take place on the full moon day 23rd April this year. 

Janmaadyo Saalegu Jatra (the festival of chariot pulling of Janmaadyo or Seto Machhendranath) starts from the eight day of bright lunar fortnight) in Kathmandu. The event opens at Jamal, Durbar Marga and taken through to Asan, Hanumandhoka and Lagan taking a night stop at every stop. Finally, the statue of the god taken back to Janabahaa carrying in a palanquin.