INDRA JATRA: An honor to the King of Heaven

Nepal celebrates many festivals every year that carry certain significance behind their celebrations. The multiethnic and multicultural Nepalese citizens celebrate many festivals which differ regionally or according to the ethnicity, religion,and traditions. From Jatras in the capital of the country to the Chhat in the Terai or national festivals like Dashain, the festivals are the intrinsic part of Nepalese culture. The Jatras are especially popular in the Kathmandu Valley, the capital city of Nepal and are celebrated by the Newar community with great joy, enthusiasm, and belief. However, the people from Bhaktapur, Banepa and Patan also celebrate the different types of Jatra.

About Indra Jatra

Indra means the King of Heaven and god of Rain and Jatra means Procession. Thus, the Indra Jatra is the celebration of thank giving to Lord Indra. During the ancient times, the Kantipur valley was known in the name of ‘Yenya Dey’ and the Newars celebrated the Jatra as ‘Yenya.’ The term ‘Indra Jatra’ was givenlater. Still today, some Newars celebrate the Jatra as ‘Yenya’ or ‘Yenya Punhi’ instead of Indra Jatra. They celebrate the festival by lighting up a Diyo called Dalucha and worshipping the very same Diyo by offering Samya Baji.

The Indra Jatra generally falls on September and is celebrated for eight days. Since the Jatra honors Lord Indra, the lord of rain, the devotees especially farmers, thank Indra for the rain. Other devotees worship ‘Bhairab,’ who is believed to be the destroyer of the evil, Lord Ganesh and Kumari (the living goddess). The festival also celebrates the arrival of the autumn season.

The king Gunakamadeva started the tradition of Indra Jatra to honor the establishment of the Kathmandu city during the 10th century. The Kumari Jatra (procession of the living goddess of Nepal) is also observed on the same day since 1756 AD.

When do we celebrate Indra Jatra?

Indra Jatra is an annual festival that is celebrated for eight days. The festival begins every year from the day of the Bhadra Dwadasi to Ashwin Krishna Chaturdasi. This year the festival starts on 24thSeptember 2018 Monday,and it falls on 12th September, Thursday in 2019.

The legend behind Indra Jatra

According to the legend, the mother of Lord Indra, Dakini, needed Parijat (a white flower) to perform a ritual. Lord Indra descended to the earth in search of the flower for his mother. While he was trying to take the flower, the owner of the meadow caught him and kept him in captivity blaming that he stole the flowers. Lord Indra was imprisoned in Kathmandu, and he was not allowed to go back from there.

After a long-missing of Indra, his mother Dakini was worried and came to earth to look for him. She finally found him and requested to let him go. Only after the villagers realized who they were, they agreed to free Lord Indra but put forward a condition. According to their condition, Lord Indra should come to the earth every year during that very time of the year,and he will be displayed as a prisoner for seven days. Also, the farmers made Dakini promise to provide them with enough dew during the winter for better productivity. The villagers also ensured that Dakini would take the deceased members of their family to the heaven with her.

Thus, the festival of Indra Jatra expresses the gratitude towards Lord Indra and Dakini for the coming harvest in a faith that the harvest will be decent and there will be timely rainfall. Similarly, the festival also remembers the deceased members of the family.

What happens in Indra Jatra?

The erection of the Yosin or Linga in Kathmandu Durbar Square (Basantapur) is the starting of the festival. This event is called ‘Yosin Thanegu.’The Linga is a pole made from pine wood which is especially brought all the way from the forest near Nala, a small town which is 29 km east of Kathmandu. People mainly the Newars gather wearing the mask, sharing the local liquors and perform dances that represent gods and demons during the rising of the Lingo (Pole). Images of Lord Indra, Bhairab and other deities are also displayed.

The devotees also visit various shrines holding the light in the remembrance of their passed member of the family. This event is called ‘UpakuWangu.’

Indra Jatra

The processions, masked devotees and the dances are the major attractions of the festival. The procession includes:

Kumari Procession

During the time of Indra Jatra, the chariot of Goddess Kumari is taken out in procession to thank Indra. The street of Kathmandu is full of the devotees performing dances, singing songs and playing various musical instruments like drums and flute. To display the prisoned condition of Lord Indra, the local people in Maru tole construct a stage made of wood and display the statue of Indra with stretched arms and covered by fiber thread. This is a long old tradition being carried out since the Lichhavi Period. The chariot is taken out in the procession around different routes on different days:

First Day (Kwaneya): Basantapur, Maru, Chikanmugal, Jaisidewal, Legan, Hyumat, Bhimsensthan, Maru, Basantapur

Second Day (Yenya Punhi): Basantapur, Pyaphal, Nyata, Tengal, Nhyokha, Nhaikan Tol, Asan, Kel Tol, Indra Chowk, Makhan, Basantapur.

Third Day (Nanichaya): Basantapur, Pyaphal, Yatkha, Nyata, Kilagal, Bhedasing, Indra Chowk, Makhan, Basantapur.


Mata Biye Procession

Mata Biye means offering butter lamps. The Newars offer small butter lamps in the memory of their deceased loved ones. The event occurs on the first day of the chariot and follows a certain route. The procession starts at around 6 in the evening and follows the following route:

Route: Maru, Pyaphal, Yatkha, Nyata, Tengal, Nhyokha, Nhaikan Tol, Asan, Kel Tol, Indra Chowk, Makhan, Hanuman Dhoka, Maru, Chikanmugal, Jaisidewal, Lagan, Hyumata, Bhimsensthan, Maru.

Dagin Procession

The Dagin procession is the procession carried out in the name of goddess Dagin which represents the Lord Indra’s mother wandering around the city searching for her son. There is a man wearing a mask with a band playing the music. The procession starts from south-western corner of Maru square, passes by the west of Kasthamandap. The procession is carried out at around 8 pm after the procession of the Kumari ends,and the Kumari chariot arrives at Maru.

Route:Maru, Pyaphal, Yatkha, Nyata, Tengal, Nhyokha, Nhaikan Tol, Asan, Kel Tol, Indra Chowk, Makhan, Hanuman Dhoka, Maru, Chikanmugal, Jaisidewal, Lagan, Hyumata, Bhimsensthan, Maru.

Bau Mata Procession

The Manandhar caste group of Newar community organizes the Bau Mata Procession. During the Bau Mata procession, the long reeds are used to make a representation of the holy snake and then carried out on the shoulder along the procession. The oil lamps are placed on the row of the snake made up of the reeds. The procession starts at around 9 pm from the southern side of the Kasthamandap.

The route follows Maru, Pyaphal, Yatkha, Nyata, Tengal, Nhyokha, Nhaikan Tol, Kel Tol, Indra Chowk, Makhan, Hanuman Dhoka, Maru, Chikanmugal, Jaisidewal, Lagan, Hyumata, Bhimsensthan, and Maru.

Want to Know more about Indra Jatra?

Contact Us


Along with the processions, the exhibitions are also a very important part of the festival. Masks of Bhairab, the manifestation of Lord Shiva are displayed in different part of Kathmandu valley throughout the celebration of eight days. The Bhairab is the terrifying form of Lord Shiva among which Sweta Bhairab at Kathmandu Durbar Square and Akash Bhairab at Indra Chowk are the largest.

Similarly, images of Indraraj Dyah are displayed at Maru near Durbar Square and Indra Chowk. The ten incarnations of Vishnu or Dasavatar are also shown in the steps of the temple in Kumari house every night.

Similarly, the Samay Baji (sacred food) is displayed in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. The food contains various elements that represent the lock, health, prosperity and longevity. The Samay  Baji consists of flattened rice, puffed rice, fried black soybeans, ginger rhizomes, marinated boiled meat, dried fish fried in oil, boiled-fried eggs, fruits, lentils and several other items and local Newari white wine (aaila). The elements of the Samay Baji are beautifully kept in display during the Indra Jatra. Hundreds of devotees come to observe the Jatra, offer the Samay Baji to Kumari, Lord Ganesh, and Bhairab. At the end of the day, the Samay Baji is distributed among the devotees as an auspicious blessed food (Prasad).

samya baji 

Photo source:


Mask dances are the major attractions of the Indra Jatra. The devotees dancing in the streets wearing the masks is something worth watching. The dances are full of energy and supported by the musical bands. Here are some of the masked dances performed by the devotees during the Indra Jatra festival:

Majipa Lakhey Dance

The Lakhey is one of the most interesting dances performed by the Newar community in Kathmandu. The word Majipa came from the word Manjupattan which means ‘the city established by Manjushree’ and Lakhey means a carnivorous demon and thus meaning to ‘the carnivorous demon of Majipa.’ The Lakhey dances in the music and moves ahead in the procession.

lakhey dance

Pulu Kisi (elephant) Dance

Pulu Kisi is the elephant in Newari Language. The elephant is believed to be the carrier of the Lord Indra,and thus the dance of the elephant is celebrated with rejoice. The people prepare the white elephant structure, and the young boys carry the structure along the streets of Kathmandu. The elephant roar and does some mischievous things from time to time and swing the tail which is funny to watch.

Pulu Kisi Dance

Sawa Bakhhu Dance

The Sawa Bakhhu Dance is performed by a dance group in Halchowk. The dance continues along the festival route, stops at the junctions and receive an offering from the devotees. The dance is characterized by the Bhairab (in Blue) with a sword and two attendants (in Red).

Devi Pykhan

Devi Pykhan is performed at Kilagal, Hanuman Dhoka, Jaisidewal, Bangemuda, Indra Chowk, and Kilagal. Dancers wear the mask of different gods and goddesses such as Bhairab, Kumari, Chandi, Kawan, Beta and Khya. It is believed that this dance is performed for the peace to people suffering from diarrhea.

Query Related to Indra Jatra?

Contact Us

Mahakali Pykhan

The Mahakali Pykhan is performed at Bhaktapur in Durbar Square and the streets of the Kathmandu. The characteristics feature of the Mahakali dance is the representation of the Khyah, a fat, hairy ape-like creature. The dance performed is full of fun and humor with a lot of falling.

Festivals of Nepal: Celebrate Life in Colours of Festivals.

Nepal is a land of ethnic and religious diversity, dominated by people of Hindu religion and followed by Buddhist religion. There are more than 55 festivals celebrated in a calendar year in Nepal. The vast number of festivals arises from the ethnic diversity present in Nepal. In a small area of 1, 47,181 sq. meter resides more than 125 ethnic groups, each with their different festivals. In spite of the diversity in ethnicity and festivals, all the communities live and celebrate each other’s festivals and rituals with joy, respect, and excitement.

Tihar festival in Nepal

It is certainly true that there are more festivals in Nepal than days in a calendar, but not all festivals receive nationwide attention. Some important festivals gain more attention and have greater religious and historical significance than others. The celebrations have also become a tourist attention grabber. Many tourists express their desire to come back and experience the festivals in the future. Some of the paramount festivals of Nepal celebrated and enjoyed by people of all ethnic groups are:

Holi (Festival of Colors)

Holi, traditionally called Fagupurnima is the festival of colors. The festival falls on the month of Falgun and Chaitra of Nepali calendar. Holi is one of the most lively and enjoyable festivals of Nepal practiced by people all over Nepal. People celebrate Holi to celebrate the death of “Holika.”, who tried to kill a devotee of Vishnu, Prahlada. A Fire was lighted to both Holika and Prahlada, but only Holika burnt to death. Maybe this is the reason why we splash water in Holi.

Colors are another feature of Holi. Holi signifies the end of winter and start of spring, giving birth to colorful flower blooms and warmer climate. This also may be the reason we celebrate happiness with various colors in Holi.

Tourists visit widely to Nepal to enjoy this lively, joyful festival. Random strangers on the street become friends and celebrate by putting colors on the faces of each other. Undoubtedly, Holi is the most joyous and enjoyed festivals of Nepal.


Lhosar, also referred to as Losar is another widely celebrated festivals of Nepal. The Buddhist community is from where Lhosar originated. Lhosar is a new year’s festival celebrated on the first day of Lunisolar Tibetan Calendar. Different communities celebrate Lhosar in different dates. There are three different Lhosar celebrated in Nepal, Tamu Lhosar, Gyalbo Lhosar and Sonam Lhosar. Gurung community celebrates Talu Lhosar, Tamang and Yolmu communities celebrate Sonam Lhosar, and Sherpa and Tibetan community celebrates Gyalbo Lhosar.  

Lhosar is a festival of dancing in traditional dresses, eating foods and family gatherings. People also pray in monasteries, clean houses and surroundings and decorate homes and monasteries. They clean the surrounding to make a clean path for the gods to visit their home.


Dashain major festival in Nepal

Almost all Hindus in Nepal celebrate Dashain. More than 80% of Hindu people celebrate Dashain, the tika festival in Nepal. Dashain is considered as one of the major festivals of Nepal. It is a fifteen-day long festival. The first day, Ghatasthapana marks the start of Dashain. In Dashain, people worship different deities for 8 consecutive days, the 8 Tantrik Goddesses and nine incarnated forms of Goddess Durga. The tenth day, Vijaya Dashami is the most important day of the festival. People receive red tika and Jamara from elders and ask for blessings.

People travel all over the country to receive tika and blessings from their relatives and elders. The last day of the festival is in the full moon and called Kojagrata Purnima. People also enjoy huge swings made of bamboo (Linge Ping), play cards with family and cousins, and buy new clothes and equipment.


 Tihar is the festival of Lights. It is a five-day festival that comes after the end of Dashain. Tihar focuses on worshipping the animals ridden by gods and goddesses. People worship animals like dogs, crow, and cow in Tihar. Laxmi Puja is a significant day of Tihar. People light the houses in handmade Diyos and light up electrical lights over the entire house.  Laxmi is the goddess of wealth, and people keep the house and surroundings clean and pave a path with lights to guide the goddess inside peoples home.

Tihar is also a festival of sweet dishes. Many dishes like Selroti, Anarsha, Fiini, and Thekua are made and offered to the animals, goddess, and people. The sight of streets gleaming with different colored lights covers the entire country.  Close friends form a group and sing Dheuso Bhailo from house to house and ask and give blessings for prosperity and good fortune.

Mha Puja

Mha puja falls on Newari New year which follows the Nepal Sambhat calendar. It translates to Me puja where people worship themselves. The Mha Puja is the most important festivals of Nepal specific to the Newar ethnic group. It falls on the fourth day of Tihar. People worship themselves and perform rituals to purify and empower ones’ soul and body. The family members sit in a row on the floor in front of a drawn mandala, a sand painting of a sacred circular diagram.

Buddha Jayanti

 Buddha Jayanti is the most important day for all Buddhist followers. Buddha Jayanti marks the birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and the light of Asia. This a joyous day not just for Buddhist followers but for all the people of Nepal. People of different ethnic groups collaborate with monks and Buddhist followers and spread the teaching of Gautam Buddha on the day. Many Buddhist followers visit shrines like Lumbini, Swoyambhunath, and Boudhanath to pray and offer homage to their leader. The shrines of Gautam Buddha are lit with butter lamps as a sign of respect and admiration.

Monks, nun, and followers travel in parades on Buddha Jayanti chanting prayers of moral of life. Many people refrain from killing animals in Buddha Jayanti and eat vegetarian dishes on the day to respect the teachings of Gautam Buddha.


Teej is a Hindu festival celebrated by most of the Hindu women. Teej is a festival focused on women of Nepal. Married women fast on the day in hopes of longer life and prosperity of her husband. Young and unmarried girls fast in faith to find a kind and loving husband. Women wear red saris with ornaments and dance in music and celebrate the festival. They end the fast by eating delicious foods and visit relatives.

Indra Jatra

Jatras are festivals celebrated by people of the Newar community. Newar people of Kathmandu celebrate Indra Jatra(Yenya) to honor Lord Indra, God of rain. The festival is 8 days long and takes place in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Several chariots of Goddess Kumari, Ganesh, and Bhairav round the city along with mascots and traditional bands. People imitate different Bhairavs, Dashavtaar and Lakhey and dance around the chariot. People celebrate Indra Jatra in celebration of the release of God Indra, who was captured by locals. On the release of God Indra, his mother blessed the city with rain. So, god of rain, Lord Indra is worshipped and celebrated in Kathmandu.

Gai Jatra

Newars of Bhaktapur strongly follow Gai Jatra. The festival is one of a kind in Nepal. Gai Jatra is a humorous festival. The Jatra is nine days long and falls in the month of Bhadra. People make sarcastic jokes and comments, satire each other to make people laugh. Many magazines, Tv shows, and theatre play funny shows and plots to celebrate Gai Jatra. This Jatra takes place in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

Gai Jatra originated from the regime of Pratap Malla. The son of Pratap Malla died early, and his queen was grief-stricken. King Pratap arranged for an occasion to lessen the pain of his queen. The king ordered every family who has lost loved ones join in an event where people dress ridiculously as ghouls and comic appearance to make the grieved ones laugh and forget about their pain. People dress similar to cows, as cows are believed to lead the soul to the other world.    

Rato Machchhindra Jatra

Rato Machchhindra Jatra

Rato Machchhindra Jatra is a prominent festival of Nepal seen followed in Patan area of Kathmandu Valley. People make a chariot from wood and bamboo from forests that have religious importance. Hindus and Buddhists follow Rato Machchhindra deity. An idol of Rato Machchhindra is put inside the chariot and pulled places of Lalitpur like Gabahal, Sundhara, and Lagankhel. The festival ends when a marvelous Bhoto is shown to the people from the chariot. The chariot is then dismantled, and the idol of Rato Machchhindra is placed in a temple at Bungamati village.

Above mentioned are some of the most celebrated and followed festivals of Nepal. There are several others festivals in Nepal that people follow in huge number. Some other important festivals of Nepal are Bisket Jatra, Chhath, Maha Shivratri, Saraswati Puja and many more. You can visit Nepal in any of the festivals and be a part of our culture, traditions, and celebrations.

For further information regarding festivals of Nepal, make sure to leave us a message on our contact page.

You can also glance upon out tour and travel packages and different destination to travel in Nepal in our blog.

Affiliations & Recommendations