Indrajatra is one of the most vibrant and famous annual festival celebrated by the Newar community of Nepal. This festival is also known as “Yenya Punhi” in Newar community. The word “Yen” means “Kathmandu” and “Ya” means festival in “Newari”. The festival starts with the erection of Indradhoj – 48 feet long wooden pole which is locally known as “Yosin Thanegu” at the premises of Hanumandhoka Durbar Square.
It is believed that Indra Jatra festival celebration was started from the 10th century and it is dedicated to Lord Indra – the god of rain or king of heaven. According to mythology, Lord Indra had descended to the Earth from the heaven as a disguised farmer to find Parijat (night jasmine) flower for his mother, Dangi for some religious purpose. The locals thought him a thief and tied him with ropes as punishment at Maru Chowk.
Later, when Dagini herself came to know about her son’s arrest, she wandered around Kathmandu in search of his son. After Dagini revealed his real identity, the locals immediately released him. Dagini being grateful, she promised to spread dew over the crops for the coming months and to take back with her to heaven all those who had died in the past year.
The Indra Jatra festival thus honors the deceased and pays homage to Lord Indra and Dagini for the coming harvests.
The chariots of living goddess Kumari, Ganesh and Bhairav are manually pulled by the locals of Kathmandu around the different parts of the city that takes three different routes on three different days. Similarly, Pulukisi- the white elephant, Majipa Lakhey – demon deity who protects the children and various other divine mask dances combined with traditional music are the main attractions of this annual festival.
During the festival, the streets around Kathmandu Durbar Square gets the most exciting and colorful for next eight days with these various festival activities.
The yasin is pulled down to symbolize the end of Indra Jatra festival and taken to the confluence of Bagmati and Bishnumati in Teku to be put to rest.