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‘Kshama Puja’ performed in Nepal’s Lalitpur held day after deadly clash

Lalitpur,Nepal

A day after locals and police clashed over pulling of Rato Macchindranath Chariot, Kshama Puja or Worship for Forgiveness has been held on Friday with clamping of curfew in the city.

Procession on Friday was held in front of chariot which was dragged by locals which set off a clash with police, injuring dozens. The chariot now stands on road side after being dragged some meters down from point where it was built and kept there since 3 months.

“This procession had to be performed because the pandemic has been rising and in order to appease the constellations to make them calm. We faced a lot of problems, the usual rituals has been confined inside the home and we had kept God in the chariot for about 3 months and we must perform the Kshama Puja. Yesterday, an unfortunate incident was witnessed, rumors has been set off in the market so we decided to hold a Kshama Puja and held it today,” Laxmi Bajracharya, one of the ritual performers told.

The District Administration Office (DAO) Lalitpur on Thursday evening decided to clamp down curfew in the city (inside Ring Road) beginning 4 AM today which has deadline till 10 PM on Friday. “Aajus,” or the “Priests” witnessed the puja which was held during the curfew.

After performing the Kshama Puja, the chariot procession can be held which will be very brief this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Without performing the Kshama Puja we cannot pull the chariot and there was such an incident yesterday. We Bajracharya will perform the ceremony asking for forgiveness, the Guthiars will decide over holding the procession. As per the rituals we should take our lord back,” Bajracharya’s the highest in the Newari caste group claimed.

The Guthiars, have decided to tour Lord Rato Macchindranath around the city confirming appropriate astrological timing. It is expected to be concluded by September 11 by fast tracking the ceremony.

Locals of Lalitpur district in Kathmandu valley on Thursday afternoon clashed with Police over pulling the chariot of Macchindranath Jatra despite the prohibitory orders.

A large number of locals, specially the youths pulled the chariot of Macchindranath to few meters down from the place where Lord Macchindranath was accessioned on 25th July this year.

Police and Security personnel tried to control people asking them not to proceed ahead despite the prohibition ordered by the local authorities which ultimately led to use of force.

Police failing to retort the locals defying the lockdown rules used water canyons, batons and fired some shells of teargas to disperse the crowd but local retorted by pelting stones.

Chariot procession of Rato Macchendranath also called as “Bunga Dugh” in Newari meaning the God of Rain and Harvest is longest Jatra in Nepal which runs on for months depending widely on astronomy.
It should have started on April, as earlier years but coronavirus pandemic pushed back the dates twice-once in April and again in June.

Dates were differed twice in April as lockdown imposed on by government was in place which had restricted mass gathering and public processions to be held.

But with end of lockdown on July, construction of chariot was expedited by “Guthi” or social organization assigned to hold on traditional processions and festivals in society.

Though ascension of Lord Macchendra was performed on 25th of July, chariot procession still was in limbo.
One of the popular legend states that once “Guru Gorkhnath” came to city of Patan and wasn’t acknowledged by people living on there. As the commoners didn’t offer him food and ignored him, Guru Gorakhnath captured all the Serpents and held them captive under his sitting. For being “Naags” or serpents responsible for the precipitation held captive by Guru Gorakhnath, Patan experienced drought which drive on famine in the city.

Advisors of the then, king of Patan Narendea Dev was asked onto bring the teacher of Gorakhnath- Lord Macchendranath from Assam. Hearing about teacher’s presence in the town, Guru Gorakhnath stood up from his seat letting the serpentines loose which brought in rain in the city ending the drought.

Adoring, Rato Macchendranath for his feast, locals of Patan started a chariot procession in the city since 897 AD which is held annually and taken around the city reminding people about his deeds.

Chariot procession of Rato Macchendranath earlier was stalled due to the earthquake of 2015 which went on for nearly half-a-year and the Corona pandemic this year also had invited similar kind of situation.

There is a belief residents of Bhaktapur can pull on the chariot to their place and keep the god for 6 months if the procession fails to take place before Dashain- the major fortnight festival observed in Nepal during the month of October.

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