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

Bungadyo Jatra, the fascinated chariot pulling festival starts

The Nepal Weekly
May 14, 2024

Bungadyo is also called as Rato Machhendranath by the Newars of Lalitpur and elsewhere. The chariot pulling festival of Bungadyo is one of the longest and most interesting festivals in the Kathmandu Valley. The festival takes place every year in Lalitpur. The festival is believed to have started in 11th century and being held every year in late April or in the month of May normally. It is started this year on May 10th.

Both Hindus and Buddhists equally respect and worship Bungadyo. Both communities take part in the festival. The Hindus take Bungadyo as the god of rain regarding him as the reincarnation of the Lord Shiva while the Buddhists regard him as the Tantric reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara.

Bungadyo temple is located in the southern part of the Patan Durbar Square since 1673.

Bungadyo Jatra festival is similar to the Jambaahaadyo (Seto Machhendranath) Rath Jatra festival held in Kathmandu, Nepal. The main difference between Bungadyo JatraRath and Jambahaadyo Rath is that chariot of Jambaahaadyo takes a month to complete and Bungadyo Rath, the chariot is much larger. The deity of Bugadyo Rath Jatra is shared with Bungamati, an ancient settlement in Lalitpur at close to Patan. Every twelfth year the chariot of Bungadyo itself has to be taken to Bungamati. Each year the deity Bungadyo spends three months in Bungamati.

The festival Bungadyo Rath Jatra begins a Pulchowk, Kathmandu, Nepal. Pulchowk is the place where the chariot of BungadyoRath is built. The locals build a 60-foot tall chariot in Pulchowk. For about a month it wends its way through the streets of Patan, Nepal.

Bungadyo in the chariot

The culmination of the festival is at Jawalakhel where a vest decorated with jewels is displayed to public. The purpose of showing of the vest is an announcement that if it is to be claimed by any one of its ownership.It is believed that the vest belongs to Karkotak Naag, the serpent king on an auspiciously selected day. That event also ends the festival.After the BhotoJatra, Bungadyo is taken back to his temple in Bungmati.

A story is there that some local was successful to treat the eye ache of the spouse of the serpent king. So that serpent king offered his jewellery clad vest to the ‘doctor’. But one day an unidentified evil spirit took out the vest from the local’s possession. The dispute of ownership was not solved. So the story links to show the vest to public to claim of ownership.   

The main reason to celebrate a chariot festival in Nepal is to show respect to Bungadyo. BungadyoRathJatra is celebrated just before the monsoon season starts. It is belief that the territory will get plenty rainfall for good growth of crops. Thus, Bungadyo Rath Jatra festival is celebrated for the peace and prosperity of the countrymen of Nepal.

A 32 feet’s high pole’s chariot made out of the cane, wood and bamboo is prepared for the festival. In addition, another similar but small in size chariot of Meenanath is also taken for the festival pulling both in a certain distance. Meenanath is regarded as the creator god and Machhindranath has been regarded as the breeder god.

There is a very interesting myth regarding to the origin of lord Machhindranath. Remarkably, Saint Gorakhnath is linked to the legend of bringing Machhindranath from Assam (India).

Gorakhnath, once upon a time, had happened to visit Nepal. He was very much hungry and was badly in need of food. In the evening he rested at a woman’s house. Because of his much hunger Gorakhnath had enough food and continued to drink his favourite a lot. But the woman also relentlessly went on serving the drink to his guest. Finally, Gorakhnath became very much surprised on how the woman had managed so much drink to him? Much more to surprise Gorakhnath saw there a nine headed ridiculous Naag (snake) helping her serve the drink. Gorakhnath became very much angry with the Naag and the woman; then he carried the Naag with him in his bag and started to live somewhere in the valley putting the Naag who had the power for the rain as his seat. Because of this there was no rainfall in the kingdom for years. King Narendra Dev came to know that the Naag should be released. That would happen only when Gorakhanath would have to get up to pay respect to his Guru Machhindranaath. With this view, the king formed a team of himself, Bandudatta Acharya and RathanhakraJyapu to bring Machhindranath from Assam (India). When Gorakhnath heard that his mentor Machhindranath had come to Nepal, he then hurriedly went to see him to pay respect. In the meantime, the Naag was released. Then there appeared a heavy rain immediately. Since then it’s believed that better days reinstated in the country. (By R. P. Narayan)