The Newari Festival | Indra Jatra | The Culture and Festival of Nepal

Indra Jatra – The Newari Culture in Nepal

Posted On:Monday, September 4, 2017
Indra Jatra

Indra Jatra

Jatra, the term refers to festivals that the Newari culture of Nepal celebrates. Newar or Newah are the historical inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley; and its surrounding areas in Nepal, and the creators of its historic heritage and civilization. They are famous for their rich culture, massive cultural diversity, and their urban civilization. There are many festivals in this culture known as Jatras (plural of Jatra), one of them is Indra Jatra.


Indra Jatra is one of the major festivals of Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as Yenya meaning the “celebration of Kathmandu.” This festival is observed in honor of Indra (a deity known as the king of Heaven in Hinduism). This festival mainly consists of masked dances and acts and also a procession of a chariot festival of the living goddess Kumari. There are so many cultural events and cultural musical bands you can witness during this festival.


This festival is also celebrated in memory of the family members who deceased in the past year. People go around various temples with incense sticks and light butter lamps in their memories. This festival lasts for eight days as per the Nepali calendar and Nepali religious dates and times. A significant event of this festival is the erection of a wooden pole (Yosin) as its open ceremony and taking down the same as its closing ceremony.


MYTH – The story behind the festival

A commonly known story behind this festival goes like: Once upon a time, Indra (the king of heaven) comes to earth to pick night-flowering jasmine as per the instructions of his mother. But on doing so, a farmer sees him picking up the flower. The farmer takes him into custody thinking he was a thief. As Indra goes missing, his mother herself comes to search him in the valley. Later, upon knowing that the thief was, in fact, the king of heaven, the people let him go. So, on thanking people for his release, Indra’s mother in return promised to provide people with enough dew for the prosperity of crops. And in memory of this event, people still follow this festival full of enjoyment.