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Celebration of Bisket Jatra

The New Year of the Bikram Sambat calendar takes place at the same time as this ancient festival.
Bisket Jatra

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.

The 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 excitement.


In the nearby town of Thimi is a festival in honor of the town's patron goddess, Bal Kumari. The deities from all the temples of the town are taken out in procession in colorful palanquins.

The palanquins and musicians playing loudly on drums and horns converge on Bal Kumari's temple square amidst crowds of people throwing color powder.

Just north of Thimi, in the little village of Bode, is a similar palanquin festival. Here also the "tongue-boring" ceremony takes place, in which men undergo religious atonement by having their tongues ceremonially pierced with long spikes supported in strange wooden frames which the men were on their shoulders.

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