Bisket Jatra Tales from Nepali New Year

Bisket Jatra is an annual festival celebrated in the town of Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. It is celebrated during the Nepalese New Year.

Guest Writer: Sai Karthik

There is a popular folklore about the origin of the Nepali bisket jatra festival. Legend dates it back to when King Shiva Deva of Lichchhavi Dynasty was ruling Bhaktapur Nepal. A tantric named Shekhar Acharya had an amazing power with which he could transform himself into any animal he wanted. One day his wife wanted to see him in the form of a serpent  Though the tantric was reluctant and knew his wife would panic seeing him in the form of a serpent, he fell to her demands. Before he turned himself into a serpent he warned her that in order to return to his original form, his wife had to throw some rice grains on him. Then he changed himself into a huge python. On seeing the sight, his wife lost her nerve and put the rice grains in her mouth. By this act, she also turned into a python.

Now, there was only one way that the tantric and his wife could return back to the human form. Only the king knew the mantras to convert them back to their original. Therefore, the couple, in the form of pythons, kept gazing at the palace everyday hoping that the king would notice them. Time went by, but no one took notice of them. Frustrated, the serpent couple committed suicide in despair.

The death of Shekhar Acharya and his wife brought famine and disease to the country. Not knowing what to do, the king summoned his courtiers to get the help of the only tantric in the area, Shekhar Acharya, and find a solution to this calamity. Upon not finding Shekhar Acharya and his wife, everyone was shocked by their sudden disappearance  Eventually, when the king discovered how the couple committed suicide while trapped in the form of pythons, he ordered his men to hoist two long cloth flags which resembled serpents from a long wooden pole (known as lingo) in honor of the couple. Since then, the flags have been hoisted every year from the long wooden poles and the annual Bisket Jatra Nepali New Year celebration is held.

Find out the other story of Bisket Jatra. (http://www.romancingtheplanet.com/affair-bisket-jatra/)

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