'Seto Machindranath Jatra' Festivals in Nepal

Posted On: April 23, 2021 9:23 am

Seto Machindranath Jatra, The Ritual behind it, The Chariot procession and the folklore

Seto Machindranath, also known as Janabaha Dyo, is a deity worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists in the city of Kathmandu. ‘Seto’ meaning ‘White’ in the Neplease language the temple is home to a white deity adorned with gold ornaments. The Seto Machindranath temple is located in Jana Bahal which is situated at Keltole between Ason and Indra chowk. The temple is believed to have been established around the 10th century and is also popularly known as machindranath bahal.

The Ritual
In the month of Poush every year, the deity is bathed and repainted for the chariot pulling ceremony, which is one of the most awaited festival in Kathmandu. The ceremony is held on the 8th day of the bright fortnight, the third month in the lunar Nepali era calendar. The deity is brought into the courtyard of the temple, ornaments and clothing on the deity are removed, and then the deity is bathed in water, milk, ghee, and honey. The bathing process is carried out by the priests of the temple and the main highlight of this event is that the living goddess Kumari attends this ritual accompanied by music played live on traditional instruments.

Legend has it
In a place called Kantipuri people used to bathe in the holy river and visit Swayambhunath which would lead them to heaven after death. Once Yamaraj (God of Death) came to know of this power he visited the holy temple of Swoyambhunath during his return from the Temple he was captured by King Yakshya Malla and his Tantric Guru and demanded immortality and would not let Yamraj leave. So Yamraj prayed to Seto Machindranath to free him. The God heard his prayer and instantly appeared from the water. The god was white in color with eyes half closed. He then told the king to build a temple where Kalmati and Bagmati meet and to organize chariot procession so that the God could visit the people and bless them with happiness and long life.

The Chariot procession
The chariot procession festival of Seto Machindranath is celebrated during the month of Chaitra which is three days long festival. The chariot of Seto Machindranath is pulled in a defined route resting at a specific location each day during the three day procession. The chariot is accompanied by soldiers with rifles (Gurju Paltan), priests and chariot pullers with hundreds of devotees coming to visit the festival.

On the first day, the deity is rests at Jamal, on the second day it is pulled through the narrow streets of Ason via Ratna park and Bhotahity. The next day it is pulled from Ason to Hanumandhoka and  finally it is pulled to Lagantole via Maruhity and Jaisideval. The narrow streets and old houses pose a challenge in manouvering the chariot but is truly an adrenalin pumping and breath taking event. During all three days, people come and pay their respect to Seto Machindranath for good health and prosperity.

 

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