Bhoto Jatra

Celebrated in honor of the god of rain and goods harvest

Photo Credit: Nirmal Dulal / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Bhoto Jatra

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Bhoto Jatra is one of the traditional exhibition festivals, celebrated locally by Newars communities in Kathmandu city of Nepal. The term ‘BHOTO JATRA’ is the festival of vest which is displayed every year. During the festival, Bhoto (vest), an image of God including many other traditional objects is displayed from the chariot to the former king and the people of Nepal on a particular day. Bhoto Jatra is also known as Pwaklo Jatra.

Importance of Bhoto Jatra

Festivals are the time to celebrate and forget chaotic life. Festivals also play an important role in our social life to promote and keep connected to our roots of cultures, values, and origins. Bhoto Jatra connects people from different religious and social backgrounds. It also marks the end of the long Jatra (Festival) of Nepal which is the rath yatra of the Rato Machindranath. It is also celebrated in honor of the god of rain and goods harvest. There is a belief that the Bhoto Jatra brings good luck to the people. Therefore, we celebrate Bhoto Jatra (Vest Festival) in remembrance and express gratitude to our ancestors, gods, or saints.

When is Bhoto Jatra?

The fixed date of the Bhoto Jatra is not listed in the calendar. Therefore, only after the arrival of two chariots in Jawalakhel (place name), astrologers choose a suitable date to carry out the Bhoto Jatra Festival.

Story and myths behind the Jatra.

There is an interesting story behind the Bhoto Jatra. In ancient times, it is believed that the farmers were used to being called Jyapus by people. At that time, ghosts and gods were also seen similar to the story of the ghosts and witches.

You might be wondering why farmers were called Jyapus. Jyapus was known to be a hard-working person. In their language, the word ‘Jya’ means work and ‘Pu’ means skill. In short, they are skilled workers.

At that time period, Jyapus were treated as a doctor because they spent their whole time with herbs and plants. Jyapus used herbs and plants to treat people’s diseases at those times.

Now, the real story begins with the serpent king god’s wife. One day, the queen fell ill and had sudden irritation in her eye, for four days. The serpent king was anxious and called Jyapu for the treatment of his wife’s eyes, ensuring him to fill his life with wealth and prosperity.

After hearing all those words, the farmer got excited and succeeded in treating her eyes. Later, he was awarded the money and Bhoto (Vest) which was worn by the serpent king. After that, Jyapu used to wear that Bhoto all the time because the Bhoto was alluring as it had a diamond and precious stones on it.

One day, a ghost happened to see the Bhoto and got enthralled by the first look. Then the ghost made the plan and succeeded in stealing that farmer’s Bhoto.

When the farmer realized, it was too late, with the fire carrying in his heart, he chased the ghost but failed to catch the culprit.
After that, the farmer hatched a plot to get his Bhoto in the event of the Rato Machindranath festival. Everybody including ghosts was present on the day of the festival. When he finally saw the ghost, he started to argue with him. On the same day, the king happened to see them interrupting peace in the midst of the festival. The king called both of them to solve their issues and ordered them to bring evidence of their property.

The farmer went to the serpent king and asked for help to come and tell the truth to the king. But the serpent king was not present on the day of the final ultimatum.

As a result, the owner of the Bhoto was not proven and not handed to anyone. After that, the Bhoto Jatra (Vest Festival) was introduced. During Bhoto Jatra, a Bhoto was shown to the people all around the city to find its real owner. Still, the mystery of the Bhoto is not solved.

How is Bhoto Jatra celebrated?

After the arrival of the Machindranath chariot, Bhoto Jatra is celebrated by pulling the chariot along the different parts of the city. The chariot is dragged from Pulchowk Gabahal to Mangal Bazar, Patan, Mikhabahal, Lagankhel, Kumaripati and concludes at Jawalakhel. The journey of the chariot starts from Pulchowk. 60 feet tall v-shaped steeple is constructed from bamboo poles with lots of hard work at Pulchowk. It is later raised from all sides and is carried by the chariot. Before starting the journey, the Newar Community also offers a cow to the priest. Only after the arrival of the Machindranath chariot at Jawalakhel, the festival last for four days. On the last day of the long chariot parade, the festival is surrounded by the public displaying a black jewel decorated Bhoto (Vest). It also marks the end of the longest chariot festival (Rato Machindranath festival).

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