Chariots festivals are a big thing in Nepal. Next week comes an exceptional one: the chariot pulling of the God of Rain Rato Machhendranath on a special trip, which is only held every 12 years!
The rainy season starts in April-May in Nepal. The purpose of this festival – celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhists – is to pray for a generous and balanced monsoon, for the rice crop in the paddy fields.
The deity spends 6 months of the year at his resident temple in the ancient city of Patan (on the outskirts of Kathmandu) and the rest in his second home, the village of Bungamati, a traditional Newar town located 7kms outside of Patan.
Every year the deity is carried from one town to the other, in a small palanquin, but every 12 years he makes the trip in a specially constructed 18m (60-feet) tall chariot!
This year, on April 22nd the chariot carrying the God will be pulled from Bungamati to Patan along a hilly and far from smooth road. The pulling will take about 2 weeks – that is if its immense size doesn’t get it into trouble…