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Bisket Jatra: The Festival of Bhaktapur

Bisket Jatra is celebrated exclusively in the Bhaktapur city of the Kathmandu Valley for the duration of a week, starting from the end of the month of Chaitra (first half of April) and ending in the first week of Baisakh (Mid-April) of the Nepalese calendar.

The city of Bhaktapur proper celebrates Bisket Jatra with a lot of pomp and flair. Processions of chariots of various devi-devata (gods and goddesses) are pulled from various points of origin within the city to the city square, also called the Durbar square. The procession is grand and a much-anticipated festivity for the city, and as a matter of fact, for the whole of Kathmandu and beyond.

Bisket Jatra is also celebrated in a small town of Thimi, a town with its roots in pottery and agriculture. The festival is observed a little differently in the town of Thimi. There are processions of chariots of various gods and goddesses, as in most festivals of the Valley. However, the people of Thimi carry the chariots on their shoulders and make joyous processions of over 20 deities across the small town.

There are two distinctly remarkable activities of the festival held at Thimi. One is the throwing of the vermilion powder, locally called Sindoor, which turns the whole town orange. The people in the procession spread Sindoor all over the town, put it on each other and even passers-by who are lucky enough to be met with such procession. The second distinctive activity is the tongue-piercing at Bode town of Thimi. One designated person is required to pierce his tongue during the festival and he heads a procession of his own where he travels different parts of the town with his tongue pierced and carrying a stand of torches on his shoulders.

The festival is a must-see for newcomers to Nepal. With traditions and culture kept alive for generations, these festivals are ones rarely appreciated as heritages of Nepalese society.

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