‘Bhoto Jatra’ marks the end of the month-long celebration of Rato Machhindranath Jatra.
Rato Machhindranath Jatra commenced on the 19th of April this year. Also known as the god of the rains, Rato Machhindrath Jatra is a revered festival in the valley. The 32 hands long chariot is completed after days of hard work in Pulchowk from where the journey of the chariot starts.
During the pulling of the Rato Machhindrath, the pedestrians and locals worship the red god resting inside the chariot. Celebrating the initiation of the grand festival, the observers dance to the traditional songs and music alongside the chariot. This festival is celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhists with equal enthusiasm.
During the festival period, large number of people visit the chariot to pay respect and homage by lighting butter lamps every day. It is believed that paying homage to the Lord will bring good luck and fulfill ones wishes. Major part of the festival is celebrated by towing the chariot to various places in Patan, namely Mangal Bazaar, Patan Sundhara, Mikhabahal, Lagankhel and finally to Jawalakhel- the venue for ‘Bhoto Jatra’. Bhoto Jatra is celebrated on the fourth day the chariot reaches Jawalakhel. It is a separate ritual where a jewel-studded vest is displayed to all. The living Goddess Kumari of Patan also attends the Bhoto Jatra.
According to a legend, one Vaidya Jyapu (Homeopathy doctor and a newar farmer) lost the vest that he had received as a gift from a serpent king Karkotaka for curing the king’s wife’s eye ailment. The myth further shares that a ghost who had taken a fancy to that vest had stolen it from him. Despite a lot of endeavour, the farmer could not track down his valuable asset. Later when the farmer came to Jawalakhel to observe Rato Machhindranath Jatra, he saw his Bhoto being worn by someone in the crowd. A quarrel developed over the vest. But as neither could prove his ownership over the vest, it was decided that the Bhoto would be left with the lord himself for the safekeeping until the rightful owner comes with a proof to claim it. From that time every year the Bhoto is shown to the general public assuring them that it has been kept safely ever since.
The President of Nepal, the Vice- President, the Prime Minister, other ministers, members of the parliament, various government officials along with other dignitaries come for the viewing of the Bhoto Jatra. From the chariot of Machhindranath, the Bhoto is shown to the mass thrice in all the four cardinal directions. The honour of displaying the sacred vest goes to the office head of the Guthi Sansthan of Patan Division. People gather in the venue to get a glimpse of the lord’s Bhota (vest), as it is believed to bestow good luck and fortune. ‘Bhoto Jatra’ marks the end of the month-long celebration of Rato Machhindranath Jatra.
Photos by Suraj Patrabansha and Shree Krishna