Bisket Jatra kicks off in Bhaktapur

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BHAKTAPUR, APR 11 – Bisket Jatra , an annual festival celebrated in the district, began on Friday as per the tantric rituals, heralding the start of the Nepali New Year.

The nine-day festival, which also marks the victory of Lichhchavis over the Kirat kings, starts four days ahead of the New Year. On the first day, Taleju mul naike (priest) Narendra Prasad Joshi worshipped Lord Bhairvnath and a chariot with the statue of the god was pulled from the temple at Taumadi Square to Gahiti with great fanfare.

Cultural expert Om Dhaubhadel said the festival is a typical celebration of Bhaktapur as Indra Jatra is marked in Kathmandu and Machhindranath Jatra in Lalitpur. “The festival also provides an opportunity for re-union of family members,” he said, adding, “Each family invites relatives, including married daughters and in-laws, to a feast that is held for at least two days during the festival.”

Police, meanwhile, said security measures in the area have been beefed up to prevent any untoward incidents as the celebrations, especially the pulling of the chariot, have not always been peaceful. Three people were killed and dozens others were injured when the chariot ran over them two years ago. Likewise, around half a dozen people were hurt in a similar incident last year.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Shyam Krishna Adhikari of the Bhaktapur Metropolitan Police Range said they have shut all local liquor stores and installed 25 CCTV cameras in the city area.

“We have also deployed over 1,500 Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel for the festival,” he said, adding that the festival is getting more peaceful of late in comparison the previous occasions. Over 2,000 local people, led by Chief District Officer Anil Kumar Thakur, organised a rally around the city on Friday morning to raise awareness on peaceful celebrations of the festival.