The Magnificent Rato Machindranath: Nepal's Longest Chariot Festival Bundya Jatra

The Magnificent Rato Machindranath: Nepal's Longest Chariot Festival Bundya Jatra

Starting From Thu, May 09, 12:00 pm
In the heart of the Kathmandu Valley, amidst the bustling streets and ancient temples, lies a festival that embodies the rich tapestry of Nepalese culture and spirituality - the Rato Machindranath Jatra. This vibrant celebration, deeply rooted in the traditions of the Newar community, particularly in the city of Patan Lalitpur, is a testament to the enduring reverence for Rato Machindranath, a deity revered as the god of rain and compassion.

Photo Credit: @ujjwal_bajracharya

The origin of Rato Machindranath can be traced back to ancient legends and myths. One such legend has it that during the Lichhavvi period of Nepal, a prolonged drought struck the land after 12 years of no rain. Seeking a solution to this predicament, King Narendra Dev of the Bhaktapur kingdom consulted with a powerful tantrik. The Tantrik revealed that Guru Gorakhnath was angered by the valley denizens for denying him alms. So he meditated sitting over Nag dev, who were responsible for bringing rain to the valley. The rainfall would resume only when Rato Machindranath, the teacher of Guru Gorakhnath, visited him. Determined to locate the revered teacher, the King, along with Tantrik high priest Bandhudutta Acharya/Achaju of Kathmandu, a local Newar farmer, Lalit Jyapu, from Lalitpur, and Ratanchakra, undertook a journey to Assam to retrieve Machhindranath. Despite several hindrances, the king was successful in bringing Machindranath to the Kathmandu valley, and as expected, Guru Gorakthnath came to pay homage to his teacher. Finally, the serpents were liberated, and rainfall blessed the valley once more.

Photo Credit: @_ceeza__

Since then, the Rato Machindranath Chariot Festival has been celebrated annually in Lalitpur with fervent prayers for abundant rainfall. The worship and rituals associated with Rato Machindranath form an integral part of the cultural tapestry of the Kathmandu Valley. They bridge the gap between Hindu and Buddhist traditions, fostering unity and shared devotion among the people. The deity serves as a reminder of the universal values of compassion and kindness, transcending religious boundaries.

Photo Credit: @suprinceyakipa

The Rato Machindranath Jatra holds paramount importance, not only within the local community but also across Nepal, as it marks the commencement of the monsoon season. As the longest jatra festival celebrated in the country, spanning almost a month, it serves as a harbinger of rain, fertility, and prosperity. The centerpiece of the festival is the colossal chariot, towering 32 hands tall, meticulously crafted by artisans. This intricately adorned chariot, symbolizing Rato Machindranath, is ceremoniously pulled through the streets of Patan Lalitpur by devotees. Amidst joyous chants, music, and traditional performances, the jatra fosters a sense of unity and communal spirit among participants.

The Rato Machindranath Jatra epitomizes the enduring traditions and spiritual heritage of Nepal. Beyond its religious connotations, the festival embodies a collective reverence for the land and its myths, uniting people from diverse backgrounds in a shared celebration of faith and devotion. As the majestic chariot traverses the streets of Patan Lalitpur, it serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and unwavering spirit that define the Nepalese people.

Cover Photo Credit:

Ranzan Shakya
Lalitpur , Lalitpur, 44700 Bagmati Province

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