Debris may put spoke in chariot wheelBisket Jatra, which is observed in mid-April to mark the beginning of the Nepali month of Baisakh, or to herald the Nepali New Year, is likely to be affected this year.
Bisket Jatra, which is observed in mid-April to mark the beginning of the Nepali month of Baisakh, or to herald the Nepali New Year, is likely to be affected this year.
During the festival, celebrated with great fervour, a colourful chariot is pulled through the ancient town of Bhaktakpur, but this year, the debris on the streets after the earthquakes last year destroyed houses and wooden beams erected to support tilted houses, structures and temples are likely to inconvenience the chariot procession.
It has been 11 months since the earthquake struck the country on April 25 last year, but the authorities have shown little interest to prepare the route for the chariot procession.
Bhaktapur is one of the 14 districts most affected by the earthquake.
Tens of thousands of people from Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur participate in the festival and revellers pull the wooden chariot built in traditional Pagoda style through major thoroughfares.
“Wooden beams have been erected everywhere along the route to support houses and temples,” said Narendra Joshi, the main priest of the Taleju temple, urging the concerned authorities—Guthi Sansthan, District Administration Office and Bhaktapur Municipality—to start working to make sure that devotees can observe the without any glitches.
The festival is celebrated for eight nights and nine days after celebrating Holi—the festival of colours. Earlier, Rato Machhindranath Jatra, another chariot pulling festival observed in Patan, was affected due to the earthquake. The monthlong festival, celebrated in May, could not take place for months after Bungamati, an ancient town south of the Capital and the abode of the Machhindranath deity, was destroyed by the earthquake. The chariot of Machhindranath also needs to pass through narrow roads in Patan, which were also obstructed due to wooden beams supporting the partially damaged houses and structures.
Bhaktapur locals are worried that they may not be able to celebrate the festival with similar zeal and fervour if authorities fail to act on time.
“Vehicular movement through core areas of Bhaktapur has been prohibited since the quake. Authorities have failed to open the route,” said Bishnu Bhakta Sintakal, a local from Sukuldhoka in Bhaktapur. He also called on all concerned to make security a priority during the festival, saying that most of the houses are on the verge of collapse.