What happens when unknowingly you become a part of an annual festival of a new country . Rato Machhendranath in Kathmandu was one such festival which we didn’t even know was happening before we actually became a part of it . This is not for the first time – we had seen Yodeling festival of Interlaken in Switzerland which happens once in 3 years (Read here)
After a proper Newari Lunch we headed towards Patan, another tourist spot in Kathmandu. This post is not about Patan . This is about Rato Machhendranath festival . As I was moving around the Durbar Square, planning to capture the area, I felt a buzz around. It was at the centre of the Durbar Square. There was a chariot which was nicely decorated and definitely seemed an auspicious and religious one, as people were seeking blessings .
The signals reached the brain . Anticipating that there is going to be some event which is very local but very popular, I changed my plan to spending more time on this event rather than at the Museum. I don’t regret the decision. By the time I came back from visiting the Durbar Square ( 20 minutes ), the place was overcrowded .
Young and old, dressed in traditional Nepalese clothes, filled up the place . Some amongst them were also dressed in Red, with huge cymbals in their hands. There was a restless excitement amongst the crowd which normally happens with any crowd in waiting for a grand event to start .
The uniqueness here is the tall structure, about 65 ft high, which was built up on the chariot. Looking around, I saw there were lots of photographers who were already up on the terrace in the surrounding building with an aim to capture the beginning of this festival . An otherwise shy person, I took all my courage possible and entered the first hotel /restaurant in front of me . In the late afternoon, there were not many people in the hotel and I ran with all my energy to the fourth floor terrace .
There were other photographers present and the next 30 minutes were intense romance between my eyes and the view finder. The atmosphere at that place was filled with music and dance and devotion and it was magic.
Later I found out that this is called Rato Macchendranath festival. Rato Machhendranath is the god of rains and is equally celebrated by the Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal. This chariot procession which I witnessed was a part of annual event which happens every year in April – May to show respect to rain god. This is one of the oldest and longest festival in Patan . There is a Rato Machhendranath temple also at Patan Durbar Square which is 300 years old . However after another round with the camera, I called it quits . Came back home satisfied .
My other Nepal stories are here –