Celebrating the Nepali new year is a must, an experience that you have to feel at least once in a life. The streets are filled by a huge crowd that wants to welcome the coming year all toghether, with happiness and hopes. You will be put through the true soul of Newari culture. Two of the most important and picturesque festivals in Kathmandu Valley are Bisket Jatra and Sindoor Jatra.
In Bisket Jatra, most of the peolple of Bhaktapur start from the morning to swarm the streets of the old Newari town to see the big Bhairab chariot being pulled through the streets. It is like a fight between the two part of the city; Thane, the upper part, and Kwone, the lower part. Before the beginning of the challenge, the people in Taumadhi Square worship Bhairab, making offers of money, flowers, and eggs, throwing rice, and ringing the bells at the front of the chariot as a good omen. During these rituals, your mind will be catapulted back in time to another dimension, where you can feel the whole spirituality that surrounds you. After the prayers, the real festival can begin. The enthusiasm fills the air, and the people start to pull the chariot with all their strength, like it’s a “life or death issue”. If you are in the middle of the crowd, it might be impossible for you to escape, but right in that moment, you will feel the energy around you, especially when the celebration is at its peak. The crowd moves in unison, all together, in the same direction.
A little bit different is the Sindoor Jatra that takes place in a small village near Bhaktapur called Sano Thimi. Even here, as a tradition, there are people everywhere, from children to old men, who want to celebrate the new year together. You will be literally harassed by a cloud of orange, red, and yellow powder, while groups of people play deafening music with drums and cymbals, while others carry several chariots of various deities.The rythms of drums will guide you through the narrow streets of the village, making you dance without thinking, just sharing your joy. The people who carry the heavy chariots are a perfect example of self-denial and strength, and they are proud to have this duty, although it is very tough. In this festival, the people seem to have an hidden energy inside themselves, because they can celebrate without any stops for hours.
The best thing about these festivals is the atmosphere; everyone wants to have fun, everyone is able to express himself in every way without restriction, but always respectful towards each other. I think that the continuation of these ancient traditions is something simply beautiful, it gives the opportunity to young generations to live, see, and understand the real spirit of their culture, in order to pass this on to the next generation, keeping alive the true identity of Nepal.