Bhoto Jatra 2017
What is Bhoto Jatra?
Bhoto Jatra simply means vest festival. Although its meaning is simple, the festival is deeply rooted in the Newari culture and has a lot of deeper reasons of why it is celebrated with vigor every year. Bhoto Jatra is held on the last day of month long chariot procession of the god of rain and harvest ‘ Rato Machendranath’.
When is it celebrated?
There is no specific date as such of it begins, but since this festival marks the beginning of rain and harvest, it begins slightly before monsoon every year. The Newar priests and highly regarded wise men come together and decide the date as per the lunar calendar.
Rato Machendranath Jatra in 2017 began on the 30th of April, 2017. This festival is celebrated in Patan and eight localities in Patan – Nator,Gabahal, Mekhabahal, Kusunti, Kayanni, Walmaya, Dhaugol and sachhi Chee – lead the procession of the chariot. There are several legends behind the celebration of this festival. According to one of the many folklores, a farmer was once working in the fields of Patan when he saw an injured snake. The kind farmer took care of the snake and healed its wounds and let go of it. Later, the farmer found the snake not just being an ordinary snake but the snake god. In return, the snake god offered the poor farmer with a traditional vest as a token of love. That vest was later lost and never to be found. One day, in one occasion, this farmer spots a person wearing the same vest that was once gifted to him. Upon trying to get back the vest which was once his, none of the 2 who claimed to be the owners of the vest could present evidence of it being theirs. As a result, the entire community who had been the part of this tussle found a way to resolve this problem and that was by introducing a festival. The festival where the same vest would be displayed every year at the end of Rato Machhindranath and the owner who would claim the vest with all evidence would be rewarded with the vest itself.
This month long festival is celebrated by erecting a chariot that goes up to 20 meters in height. Pulling the chariot for even the tiniest distance is believed to let the doors open to heaven once deceased. Families and friends come together and have feast, drink alcohol and celebrate on the last day of this festival. It is a sight to see when the entire Kathmandu valley rejoices public holiday to witness this rain god being pulled on a wooden chariot to the final destination of Jawalakhel. May 25, 2017 is the last day to witness this festival for the year of 2017.