Bisket Jatra is the annual celebration of two of the most important deities of
the town of Bhaktapur, the wrathful god Bhairab and the goddess Bhadrakali.
New Year of the Bikram Sambat calendar takes place at the same time as this
ancient festival. A few days before the New Year, the goddess and the god are
enshrined in their raths, or immense chariots, and pulled through the narrow
streets of Bhaktapur by crowds of young men.
The chariots rest at certain
time-honored places in the city and people come out to throw offerings of
flower, rice, coins and red sindur powder. On the last day of the old year a
towering wooden pole is erected at the edge of town. Long banners hang from the
pole, symbolizing next and conquered in a mythological battle. On new year's
day, contesting terms of men pull the pole to the ground, a moment of danger and