Seto Macchindranath Jatra: Kathmandu Valley in India celebrates three-day chariot procession honouring rain god
Seto Macchindranath Jatra: Kathmandu Valley in India celebrates three-day chariot procession honouring rain god || Picture Courtesy: Google Stock Images

India: As the chariot drove into the central city plaza on Wednesday evening, the chariot parade of Seto Macchindranath, one of the largest chariot festivals celebrated inside the Kathmandu valley, officially began. Towards the end of the day, hundreds of women descended the street to pull the chariot past the crowd of worshippers. Jana Baha Dyah Jatra is another name for the three-day Seto Macchindranath Jatra, or chariot procession honouring the rain god.

Over the course of three days, a skyscraping chariot of Seto Machindranath is drawn from Teendhara Pathsala in front of the ancient Imperial Palace. Every day, when the chariot approaches its end, a squad of soldiers opens fire with their rifles. “Since 2073 B.S., we (women) have been pulling Seto Macchindranath’s chariot (2017 AD). In the procession, women are voluntarily participating, One of the organisers of the Baha Dyah Jatra, Nanira Maharjan,” according to ANI.

The god of the present and rain, Seto Macchindranath, is revered for bringing on rain and abundant harvest. It is thought that there would be a lot of rain after celebrating this celebration, and famine won’t strike. There is also a notion that participating in and observing the parade can cure illnesses, prevent famine-like conditions, and bring prosperity.

“For a long time, we have been at the forefront of cultural activity. As a result, women have been drawing the chariot on Indra Jatra for a record-breaking 11 years; we are continuing to advance. We’ve been in charge of pulling the chariot for this Baha Dyah Jatra (Seto Macchindranath Jatra) procession for four years now. After demonstrations, female members of society from all walks of life gathered to inspire others. Although the precise number of women marching in the procession cannot be determined, we are here in numbers of roughly 200,” Shanta Prajapati told ANI that there was another participant woman.

According to legend, people used to bathe in a sacred river and go to Swayambhunath, which was said to have the ability to transport people to paradise after death, when Yakshya Malla, King of Kantipur, was in power.

When Yamraj (God of Death) learned of the strength of Swayambhunath, he went to the revered temple. When Yama returned from the temple, King Yakshya Malla and his Guru, who had special abilities and sought immortality, had him under custody. He appealed to Arya Awalokiteshwor (Seto Machhindranath) to set Yama free as the King and his Guru prevented Yama from escaping. As soon as God answered his pleas, he materialised out of the water.

The god had half-closed eyelids and was completely white. He advised the monarch to erect a temple at the confluence of the rivers Kalmati and Bagmati and to arrange a chariot parade so that God may come and visit the populace and provide them with long life and happiness. Since then, people have been honouring the god with this three-day parade.