Bhoto Jatra is a traditional festival celebrated in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. It is a unique cultural event that takes place annually in the month of Jestha (May/June) on the fourth day after the full moon. The festival holds significance for both the Hindu and Buddhist communities in Nepal.
The highlight of Bhoto Jatra is the display of a sacred vest or Bhoto, which is believed to have belonged to the Hindu god Lord Rama. According to the legend, Lord Rama had worn the vest during his exile. The vest was later lost and was believed to have been found by a farmer while plowing his field.
During the festival, the Bhoto is displayed to the public from the historic Hanuman Dhoka Palace in Kathmandu. A large crowd gathers to witness the event. The Bhoto is raised on a tall wooden pole and shown to the people. It is believed that anyone who sees the Bhoto will be blessed with good fortune.
After the public display, the Bhoto is taken to nearby Kwa Bahal (also known as Kwabahil or Jaisidewal), a Buddhist shrine located in the heart of Kathmandu. There, the Bhoto is showcased to the local Newar community and worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists.
Bhoto Jatra is also associated with a folklore story called “The Tale of the Lost Vest.” According to the story, two brothers named Bhaktaprasad and Jitaprasad found the sacred vest and decided to divide it equally. However, they could not agree on the division, and the vest tore into two pieces. One brother got the upper part, and the other received the lower part. This legend is narrated during the festival, and it adds to the cultural significance of Bhoto Jatra.
Overall, Bhoto Jatra is a vibrant festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Nepal and brings together people from different religious backgrounds to celebrate a shared tradition.
Why bhoto jatra
Bhoto Jatra is celebrated for various reasons, and its significance is rooted in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions in Nepal. Here are a few reasons why Bhoto Jatra is observed:
- Mythological and religious significance: The main reason behind Bhoto Jatra is the belief that the sacred vest, known as the Bhoto, belonged to Lord Rama, an important figure in Hindu mythology. Lord Rama is revered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is highly respected by Hindus. The Bhoto is considered a sacred relic associated with Lord Rama’s exile period, making it a highly revered artifact.
- Cultural preservation: Bhoto Jatra plays a vital role in preserving Nepal’s rich cultural heritage. The festival has been celebrated for centuries and is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Newar community, who are the indigenous inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. It serves as a platform to showcase and celebrate the unique cultural practices, folklore, and legends associated with the festival.
- Uniting religious communities: Bhoto Jatra is a festival that brings people from different religious backgrounds together. Both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal participate in the festival, demonstrating a sense of harmony and mutual respect. The festival highlights the cultural syncretism and religious coexistence that is prevalent in Nepal.
- Blessings and good fortune: It is believed that by witnessing the Bhoto during the festival, individuals can receive blessings and good fortune. People gather in large numbers to catch a glimpse of the Bhoto, hoping to receive its divine blessings for their personal well-being and prosperity.
- Tradition and continuity: Bhoto Jatra represents the continuation of an ancient tradition passed down through generations. The festival serves as a reminder of Nepal’s historical and cultural legacy, reinforcing a sense of identity and pride among the Nepali people.
Overall, Bhoto Jatra holds immense cultural, religious, and historical significance in Nepal. It embodies the values of unity, respect, and reverence for traditions while celebrating the shared cultural heritage of the Nepali people.
History of bhoto jatra
The history of Bhoto Jatra dates back several centuries and is deeply intertwined with the cultural and religious heritage of Nepal. While the exact origins of the festival are not well-documented, it is believed to have evolved over time with contributions from various historical events and cultural practices. Here is a general overview of the history of Bhoto Jatra:
- Mythological and Legendary Origins: The festival’s roots can be traced to the Hindu epic Ramayana, which narrates the life and adventures of Lord Rama. According to popular belief, the sacred vest or Bhoto worn by Lord Rama during his exile was lost and later discovered in a farmer’s field. This mythological connection to Lord Rama gives the Bhoto its sacred and revered status.
- Newar Traditions: The Bhoto Jatra festival is primarily associated with the Newar community, the indigenous inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. The Newars have a rich cultural heritage and their own set of traditions and festivals. Bhoto Jatra has been an integral part of Newar culture for generations, reflecting their customs, rituals, and storytelling traditions.
- Historical Influences: Over the centuries, Nepal experienced various historical events that contributed to the development and significance of Bhoto Jatra. For instance, during the reign of King Jayaprakash Malla (1382-1395 AD), the Bhoto was incorporated into the festival as a symbol of royal authority and power. The vest was showcased as a royal possession and a symbol of legitimacy for the rulers.
- Royal Connections: The Shah dynasty, which ruled Nepal from the 18th century until 2008, had a close association with Bhoto Jatra. The festival became an occasion for the Shah kings to display the Bhoto as a part of their regal responsibilities. It was a symbolic gesture to demonstrate their connection to the religious and cultural traditions of Nepal.
- Cultural Preservation: Throughout its history, Bhoto Jatra has played a significant role in preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Nepal. The festival has been passed down through generations, with communities actively participating in its celebration and ensuring its continuity. Bhoto Jatra serves as a platform for cultural expression, showcasing traditional music, dance, costumes, and religious rituals.
It’s important to note that the specific historical details and evolution of Bhoto Jatra may vary based on local beliefs, regional practices, and individual narratives. The festival’s history is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of Nepal and continues to be celebrated with great enthusiasm, carrying forward the legacy of this ancient tradition.