New Year | Nava Barsa | Bisket Jatra
Festivals always are the main sources of happiness. The excitement of celebrating festivals bring a smile to our face and with this joyous feeling, the start of the year is much more celebrated with full of hope and pleasure. NEW YEAR DAY is the beginning of the year. According to Nepali Calendar, it falls on Baisakh month. The entire nation celebrates this day in different styles. Every community has its way of celebrating the New Year.
Nepal is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious country. There are more than 60 ethnic groups that have their own unique cultures and traditions. The cultural diversity in the vast Nepalese communities celebrate New Year is their own style but with the same passion and enthusiasm. Since it is a national holiday, the people usually gather, worship in the early morning, make different items of foods, dance, and sing, party and some even take fasting. Nowadays there is a trend of celebrating New Year as a picnic or party in a hall or day out. But the feeling of joy remains the same.
Though New Year day is a national or public holiday as it is the first day of the year, it also has religious significance. On this day, there are parades in different places. Bisket Jatra is one of the main religious activities celebrated on this specific day. Bisket Jatra is especially famous in Bhaktapur. There is a ritual of tug of war between the two chariots that are only built for this special day. This tradition is passed down for ages. The New Year starts when the wooden pole (lingo) of the chariot crashes while pulling it down. It is believed that whichever side wins, the happiness will exist throughout the year in their community. The chariots are especially signifying Bhairav and Bhadrakali.
Bisket Jatra is also famous as the “Festival after the death of the serpent”. It is celebrated for nine days by the Newar community of Bhaktapur: five days prior the last day of the year and four days after the New Year. God Bhairav, the wrath God is worshipped by offering prayers and varieties of food items in order to satisfy God Bhairav and to get rid of any kind of troubles or sufferings in the upcoming years.
There is a story behind celebrating Bisket Jatra. Once upon a time, there was a princess who was cursed if she marries, her husband will not survive the next day. Many young men lost their lives after marrying the princess. One day, there was a young man who married the princess. Goddess Bhadrakali appeared in the disguise of an old lady and advised him to stay awake throughout the wedding night after the princess fell asleep. Following her suggestion, the young man didn’t sleep. After the princess fell asleep, he saw two serpents were crawling out of the nose of the princess. He immediately killed the snakes with the sword and in this way; the spell of the serpents was broken. This day is remembered as the Bisyaku Jatra meaning snake slaughter, now called as “Bisket Jatra”. Similarly, there are many myths connected to this Jatra.
New Year Day and Bisket Jatra fall on the same day. There are various celebrations which will be conducted in different ways in different places with different attitudes and beliefs. But the only outcome is the prayer for peace and prosperity of the nation and its people.
Author: Step On Himalaya
Date: 12th April, 2019