Rato Machindranath Jatra is a fascinating annual festival held in Nepal. The effective God of rain in the shape of fish with red coloration called Rato Machindranath is the center of devotion to the festive known as Rato Machindranath Jatra. It is a one-month-long competition that is well known from the third day of the bright Lunar fortnight within the month of Baishakh every year.
It’s celebrated by the Newari people of Kathmandu Valley. Rato Machindranath is worshipped on this occasion with the belief that God Rato Machindranath helps to hold rain at the proper time for harvesting and planting and prevent people from life-threatening dearth. In this article, we will explore the rich history of Rato Machindranath Jatra, its significance, and the cultural importance it holds for the Nepalese people.
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Rato Machindranath Jatra, also known as the Bunga Dyah Jatra, is an annual festival held in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. This festival is dedicated to Rato Machindranath, the god of rain and harvest. The festival is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to the people of Nepal.
The festival is celebrated for several weeks, and it involves a procession of a large chariot that carries the statue of Rato Machindranath. The chariot travels through the streets of Kathmandu. The festival ends with the chariot being pulled into the central square of the city.
Origins of Rato Machindranath Jatra
The origins of Rato Machindranath Jatra can be traced back to the 10th century. The festival is believed to have been started by King Gunakama Deva to appease the god of rain and harvest. According to legend, the valley suffered from a severe drought, and astrologers advised the king to bring the statue of Rato Machindranath from a neighboring town.
The king brought the statue to Kathmandu, and the rains came. The festival was established as an annual event to ensure good harvests and rainfall. The festival has become an integral part of Nepalese culture and tradition over the years.
The Legends of Rato Machindranath Jatra
The legend of Rato Machindranath is from the ancient Hindu text, the Mahabharata. According to legend, Rato Machindranath was a powerful sage who had the ability to bring rain and a good harvest to the people of the valley.
It’s far believed that King Bardev had begun this competition around 662 B.S. There may be an exclusive legend approximating the origin of Rato Machindranath Jatra.
One of the most believed legends about the Gorakhnath is the scholar of Machindranath residing in Assam of India. He came to Kathmandu Valley and asked for services; however, each people refuse to give services to him. This makes Gorakhnath furious.
Via his competencies, he determined that the principal motive for rain in the Kathmandu Valley is due to the serpent residing at the lakes of Kathmandu Valley. So, he uses a spell and manipulates all the snakes, and abstains from the rain’s valley. Quickly, drought and famine hit every nook of the valley.
The people try to determine the motive for having a drought and subsequently located out the basic purpose of Gorakhnath meditation.
The people of the valley were suffering from a severe drought, and King Bardev sought the help of Rato Machindranath. The sage agreed to help, but he required the king to build him a chariot and a temple. The king agreed, and Guru Machindranath accepted the invitation and arrived at Kathmandu Valley. Knowing about the visit of Guru Machindranath to his region, Gorakhnath ends up his meditation to visit him.
After finishing up meditation, the serpent of all lakes is loose from his spell. After a few days, the rain poured all the way down to Kathmandu, finishing up a life-taking drought. So, from that day, Rato Machindranath Jatra is carried out to expose gratitude to Guru Machindranath.
The Significance of Rato Machindranath Jatra
Rato Machindranath Jatra is one of the most important festivals in Nepal. The festival is believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and rain to the people of the valley. The festival is also a time for people to come together and celebrate their culture and traditions.
The Preparation for the Festival
Preparation for Rato Machindranath Jatra begins months before the actual festival. The construction of the chariot begins in the month of Chaitra, which falls between March and April. The chariot is constructed with bamboo, wood, and other materials and decorated with colorful cloth and flowers.
The statue of Rato Machindranath is brought from the temple in the town of Bungamati to the chariot in the city of Kathmandu. The statue is placed on the chariot and adorned with jewellery, clothes, and flowers.
The Jatra Procession
The Jatra procession begins after the statue of Rato Machindranath is placed on the chariot. The chariot is then pulled through the streets of Kathmandu by hundreds of people. The procession takes several days to complete, and it passes through various neighborhoods in the city.
The chariot is stopped at various locations during the procession, and rituals are performed to honor Rato Machindranath. The people who pull the chariot are considered blessed, and it is believed that pulling the chariot brings good luck and prosperity.
The Rituals Performed During Festival
Various rituals are performed during Rato Machindranath Jatra to honour the god of rain and harvest. One of the most significant rituals is the offering of rice, flowers, and fruits to the statue of Rato Machindranath.
The people also offer prayers and light lamps during the festival. It is believed that these rituals bring good luck, prosperity, and rainfall to the valley.
Rato Machindranath Jatra has a month-lengthy ritual to be finished. The development of a sacred carriage for God Rato Machindranath begins many weeks before the beginning of the festival. This sacred carriage is ready from bamboo, wood, jute thread, and many extras. The construction of this sacred carriage is accomplished at Pulchowk, Lalitpur of Kathmandu Valley. This carriage ought to be about 11-yard height. Along with this, some other small carriage known as Minanath, within the local idiom, is constructed for God Minanath, who’s believed to be the God of creation.
On the 3rd day of a bright lunar fortnight of Baishakh month, a day before the festive, a cow is bestowed to the competition’s high priest. Then, on the fourth day of the bright lunar fortnight of Baishakh, the ceremony begins. The most exciting part is the pulling of the sacred carriage all through the city begins.
The pulling of both the large carriage of Rato Machindranath and the small carriage of Minanath starts from Pulchowk, Lalitpur, where it is built. The carriage is pulled to various tole of the Lalitpur metropolis. Dhime Baja, bansuri, and Jhyamta are performed, and their sound is echoed throughout the entire metropolis.
Spectators are watching the festive from their residences with their eyes wide open. The entire environment is energetic and full of amusement. While pulling off the carriage through the locality, people come out of their houses with imparting to God Rato Machindranath and God Minanath. They worship with wonderful devotion. They pray for the peace, well-being, and prosperity of the family members too. Youngsters, along with elders, including men and women, pull the carriage through various toles enthusiastically.
After circulating the carriage through the diverse locality, it is finally pulled up to Jwalakhel, Lalitpur. At Jawalakhel, devotees throw Bread named “Yomari & Chatamari” to God Rato Machindranath in this event with the notion that rain might be held on time to harvest and plant. So, the name of this vicinity is known as Jwalakhel because of its Yomari & Chatamari throwing activity on this occasion.
After deciding the fortunate time, on the fourth day of the sacred carriage at Jawalakhel, the vest so-known as ‘Bhoto‘ is shown from the sacred carriage of Rato Machindranath in the presence of the living Goddess of Nepal Kumari, President of Nepal, Prime Minister of Nepal and different government officials.
The town is overcrowded to take a look at the ‘Bhoto‘ because it is believed that observing at ‘Bhoto’ on this day save you people from horrific omen for the rest of the year.
After finishing, displaying of ‘Bhoto‘ to the general public in the end, the statue of God Rato Machindranath is resettled to its unique vicinity at Bungmati Temple of Lalitpur. With the resettlement of deity, a month-lengthy festival ends officially.
The Conclusion of Rato Machindranath Jatra
The conclusion of Rato Machindranath Jatra is marked by the arrival of the chariot in the city’s central square. The chariot is pulled into the square, and the statue of Rato Machindranath is taken down from the chariot and placed in a temporary temple.
The festival culminates with the ritual of Bhoto Jatra, where a vest is displayed to the public. The vest is believed to have belonged to a king who received it as a gift from the god of rain and harvest. The display of the vest is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
The Modern-Day Celebration of Rato Machindranath Jatra
Today, Rato Machindranath Jatra is celebrated with much fanfare and enthusiasm. This festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. Everyone comes to see the colourful processions and rituals.
The festival has also become an important cultural event. Various cultural programs and exhibitions are held during the festival.
The Cultural Importance of Rato Machindranath Jatra
Rato Machindranath Jatra is an integral part of Nepalese culture and tradition. This festival has been celebrated for centuries. It holds great cultural significance for the people of Nepal.
This festival brings together people to celebrate their culture and traditions. It is also a time to honor the god of rain and harvest, who is considered a protector and benefactor of the valley.
The Impact of Rato Machindranath Jatra on Tourism in Nepal
Rato Machindranath Jatra has had a significant impact on tourism in Nepal. People come here to watch the colourful procession and experience Nepalese culture and tradition.
The festival has also helped promote Nepal as a tourist destination. It has contributed to the economy of the country.
The Future of Rato Machindranath Jatra
Rato Machindranath Jatra has a rich history and cultural significance. However, the festival faces several challenges in the modern era.
Lack of funds and resources One of the biggest challenges facing the festival. The construction of the chariot and the organization of the festival requires significant financial and logistical resources.
Another challenge is the changing social and cultural landscape of Nepal. The younger generation is becoming increasingly disconnected from their cultural roots. There is a risk that the festival may lose its cultural significance and popularity.
Despite these challenges, Rato Machindranath Jatra remains an important cultural event in Nepal. It plays a vital role in promoting Nepalese culture and tradition to the world.
Story of Bhoto Jatra Festival
Showing the vest; in the Nepalese idiom, ‘Bhoto,’ is vital to this festival. So, this ceremony is likewise frequently called ‘Bhoto Jatra.’ The inauguration of displaying ‘Bhoto’ in this ceremony is believed to be started by King Gunkamdev.
There’s a unique legend for showing a vest on this occasion. One of the frequently heard is of Jyapu physician of Khwopa (Bhaktapur). Throughout the reign of Gunkamdev, it is believed that the King of the serpent, Nagraj, and his spouse of the Karkotaka family used to live on the Taudaha Lake at Kirtipur.
One day, the spouse of Nagraj got the hassle in her eye. So, for her medication, he seeks for a physician and came to know about the Jyapu doctor at Khwopa. Nagraj went to that physician and pleaded for assistance and Jyapu’s medical doctor went with him to remedy her.
After the medication for a few days, the wife of Nagraj recovered. Pleased by the physician’s work, Nagraj gave him a treasured vest with diamonds studded on it. The doctor loves that vest so much and attends every and each ceremony wearing it. One of the ghosts is looking at him in all of the ceremonies, and that ghost turns desirous to get that vest.
At some point, the physician is travelling to the field to see his plants, and he took off that vest and kept it on close by the field. The desirous ghost found that as the most favourable time and stole that vest. When the physician determined that his vest was lost and search everywhere but could not find the vest.
The years passed as typical physicians went to Lalitpur to attend Rato Machindranath Jatra. Distinctly, he saw that ghost wearing that identical vest that he used to wear at that festival. A physician claimed that the vest is his; however, that ghost denied it, and a dispute arises among them. To settle the matter, they went to King Gunkamdev.
Listening to each of them, King Gunkamdev was unsatisfied and instructed them to deliver enough evidence to claim that vest. Understanding this, the physician went to Nagraj for help. Nagraj promised the doctor that he’d attend in that festive form of a human, taller than a normal human sporting white cloth. Nagraj also told that once he attends the festive, the wind will arise so that the physician would understand that Nagraj is around him.
As per promise, the physician went to attend Rato Machindranath Jatra. The huge wind takes place, and the physician realizes that Nagraj is there. He looks right here, and there, however, could not apprehend Nagraj.
King Gunkamdev waits for the evidence. However, no one came. At final, the king decided to show that vest from the four corners of the sacred carriage of God Rato Machindranath to know whose vest is that.
However, due to the loss of proof, neither physician nor that ghost could come in front of King. Every year at the ceremony of Rato Machindranath, that vest is shown, and asks, “Who’s vest is this?”. Later, it became a part of a culture that continues to be followed at present.
So, ‘Bhoto Jatra‘ is one of the unsolved court cases in the history of Nepal. Newari Buddhist people also worship God Rato Machindranath, so they have reason to celebrate in this ceremony and took participate in it along with Hindu Newari people. It’s celebrated at Lalitpur of Kathmandu Valley.
As a whole, Rato Machindranath has tremendous religious value in Nepalese society. It’s the synonym of peace, prosperity, spiritual harmony, justice, love, and gratitude.
Also Read: History of Biket jatra in Nepal
Rato Machindranath Jatra is a fascinating festival that celebrates the god of rain and harvest in Nepal. The festival has a rich history and cultural significance. It is celebrated with great pomp and enthusiasm.
This festival is a time for people to come together to celebrate their culture and traditions. It is also an opportunity to honor the god of rain and harvest, who is considered a protector and benefactor of the valley.
Rato Machindranath Jatra has had a significant impact on tourism in Nepal and has helped to promote Nepal as a tourist destination. However, in the modern era the festival has to face many challenges. This includes a lack of funds and resources and the changing social and cultural landscape of Nepal.
Overall, Rato Machindranath Jatra is an integral part of Nepalese culture and tradition, and it is a festival that is worth experiencing for anyone interested in exploring the rich cultural heritage of Nepal.
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