A priest displays Bhoto during the RatoMachindranath chariot festival also known as BhotoJatra at Jwalakhel, Lalipur on Monday, October 12, 2015. Photo/Hemanta Shrestha
Rato Machhindranath is worshiped by Hindus as the historical saint Karunamaya, while Buddhists worship Padmapani as the fourth of the five Buddhas. Indrajatra in Kathmandu and Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur are as important as Rato Machhindranath Jatra is celebrated in Patan. It is customary to celebrate Machhindranath Jatra as the longest procession in the valley. Machhindranath, the god of rain and contemporaries, is kept in Ta -Bahal of Patan for six months and in Bungmati for six months. No matter which company takes the responsibility of rebuilding the temple, the locals have urged the contractor company to reflect the old originality in it.
Every year, after the Bhoto procession at Jawalakhel, Machhindranath was taken to the same temple in Bungmati. Rato Machhindranath has been kept in a guthi house in Bungmati due to lack of temples and due to complete damage after the 2072 BS earthquake. It is said that 36 feet long wood should be used in the construction of this peak style temple.The chariot of Machhindranath is made 32 cubits high with 32 qualities. The procession of Rato Machhindranath is celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists as a big celebration of Patan.
Machhindranath, who is known by many names like Anna, Varsha, Sahakal, Lakeshwar and Bangadya, when there was famine and drought all over the country, coincided with the Lichhavi period” . According to the legend that has been going on in Nepal for many years, it did not rain for 12 years after Guru Goraksanath made Navnag his asana and sat in the mausoleum. It is understood that Gorakhnath got up to visit his guru after the then king, Tantric Bandyudatta Acharya and Lalit Jyapu brought him back to Bungmati after the life of the man was in danger due to famine and drought.
Rato Machhindranath has been kept in a guthi house in Bungmati due to lack of temples and due to complete damage after the 2072 BS earthquake. It is said that 36 feet long wood should be used in the construction of this peak style temple
Rato Machhindranath’s rath yatra, the most important procession of Patan and the longest procession in the Kathmandu Valley, starts from Vaishakhshukla Pratipada. The next day of Lhutipurnima, ‘Bungadya:’ i.e. Red Machhindranath is bathed in ‘Bungadya: Nhavan Davu’ i.e. Machhindranath bathing dabli at Lagankhel in Lalitpur. Chariots are made with the help of different types of wood and cane. There is a tradition of making a chariot by tying it with a cane rope with a wooden handle. From Patan, it is customary to place the statue of Machhindranath on a chariot and ride on a 32-foot-tall chariot built at Pulchowk.
The next day, Rato Machhindranath’s chariot is pulled from Pulchowk and restored to the village. Every year, on the day after Akshay Tritiya, the chariot of Minnath is taken from Tangal to Pulchowk. The 32-foot-tall chariot, built in the style of a pagoda, is decorated with incense, flags, etc. during the reign of Lichhavi King Narendradev, Guru Gorakhnath made a new serpent seat and after twelve years of famine without water, King Narendradev, Tantric Bandhudatta Achaju, Lalit Jyapu and Karkotak Nagaraja went to work in India and brought ‘Vungadya’ i.e. Rato Machhindranath to Kathmandu Valley. It is believed that after seeing his guru Machhindranath, while going to visit Gorakhnath guru, the new serpent was freed and it rained and coincided. There is a tradition of making a procession to the idol of Machhindranath.
Three days after being placed in the chariot, Machhindranath’s chariot is circulated in different places of Patan. On the first day of the rath yatra starting from Pulchowk, the chariot is brought back to the village. After staying there for a day, the chariot is taken to Sundhara. After taking the chariot to Sundhara, Daegu Jatra is celebrated there. After being taken to Sundhara, the chariot is taken to Lagankhel via Mahabuddha and Chakubahal. Sacrifice is performed on the day the chariot is pulled from Lagankhel, but since Machhindranath does not accept the sacrifice, it is offered to Bhairav in the chariot. While taking the chariot from Lagankhel, Dulamaju is rotated twice.
From Lagankhel, the chariot is taken to Podetol. It is customary to drive coconuts from the top of the chariot the next evening when the chariot is taken to Podetol. It is believed that a person who grabs a coconut dropped from a chariot will have a son. Coconut rolling day is also considered as a day to express gratitude for the success of the pilgrimage. The next morning, when the coconuts are rolled, single women pull the chariot and take it to the four corners of Podetol.
From there, the site is seen to take the chariot to Jawalakhel. It is customary to drop coconuts from the chariot on the night before the chariot is taken to Jawalakhel. Three days after the chariot is taken to Jawalakhel, the procession ends by showing Bhoto. It is customary for the residents of seven villages to worship the day before.It is customary to worship Azima on the morning of the last day. Similarly, a Tantric puja is held on the same night in which the wives of Panju who are sitting in the chariot also participate. In the evening on the day of Bhoto Jatra, Panju brought Bhoto from Machhindranath’s temple.
According to folklore, Nagraj Karkotak of Toudah had given the gem-encrusted bhoto as a gift to Kisan Vaidya who cured Nagini’s eye disease. There is a legend that Kisan Vaidya lost his bhoto while he was busy in the field and later saw a ghost wearing a bhoto in the crowd that had gathered to watch Machhindranath’s procession. When a dispute arose between the two and a dispute arose with the king, Lichhavi king Gunakamdev could not decide who Bhoto belonged to due to lack of sufficient evidence.
He handed over the bhoto to Machhindranath until he came with proof and established the custom of showing it. According to the same tradition, every year on the last day of Machhindranath’s Rathyatra, the officials of Guthi Sansthan turn around three times from the turret of the chariot saying ‘Whose is this Bhoto?’During the monarchy, the king used to observe the Bhoto procession, but now the president is the head of state. It is customary for a virgin to observe the entire procession of Machhindranath as a living goddess