Covid-19 halted several festivals, but these jatras are taking place as scheduled

Sikali Jatra of Khokana travel destinations
File: Sikali Jatra of Khokana

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in Nepal, celebrations of many jatras and festivals are called off one after another. Many jatras and festivals are limited to nitya pujas (daily worship) only inside the temple premises.

However, as the festive season is approaching with the start of Dashain, arguably the greatest festival of Nepali people, preparations are underway for many jatras and festivals to be held as scheduled amid this ongoing pandemic, in some religious places in and outside the Kathmandu valley.

Stakeholders say they will follow every possible safety measure against the coronavirus infection and conduct the jatras and festivals so as to give continuity to the age-old traditions and rituals.

There are many keen to know such jatras and festivals celebrated by different communities of different places during Dashain even this year as well. Here, we bring you some details about those jatras that would continue even the ongoing pandemic:

1. Anandadi Lokeshwar Mela

File: Locals of Chobhar during the Anandadi Lokeshwar Jatra. Photo: Courtesy: Saroj Shakya

Preparations are going on for the fair to be held after the Kojagrat Purnima, the final day of the Dashain festival at the Anandadi Lokeshwar temple in Chobhar of Kathmandu. Although this jatra is celebrated for a month from Ashwin Purnima to Kartik Purnima (full moon to full moon), the last five days see more crowd.

People come to this jatra with a belief that they will be protected from leprosy and various epidemics if they attend it.

Saroj Shakya, the secretary of the Kachchhapal Suvarna Vidhi Mahavihar Management Committee and incumbent priest of Anandadi Lokeshwar temple, says they are preparing to conduct the mela (fair) by maintaining social distance and adopting all the safety precautions as the fair is being conducted amid the pandemic.

As per Shakya, the temple mainly sees the crowds of people fasting without even drinking water, and preparations are underway to manage the crowd.  He informs, “However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there may be fewer crowds of devotees this year.”

2. Sikali Jatra of Khokana

Khokana, popularly known as a village that does not celebrate Dashain, will continue celebrating Sikali Jatra even this year as well.

Krishna Bhagat Maharjan, a social activist and also the principal of a local school, informs the festival would not be postponed even this year as well. However, it will not be celebrated with pomp like previous years. Locals are preparing to conduct and complete the procession with the participation of as few people as possible.

File: Sikali Mandir, Khokana

3. Khan Mey of Bhaktapur

The Khan Mey Jatra of Bhaktapur is celebrated with much fervour on the ninth day of the Dashain. It will not be postponed or called off this year too.

This year, the person taking the vow has already bought a male buffalo and already handed it over to the Navadurga Gana. And, also the rituals have already started since the day of Ghantakarna Chaturdashi, which is why this jatra will not be called off for this year as well. However, unlike in previous years, local administration, locals and Jatra management team have agreed not to involve locals in this jatra for this year, according to Amit Banmala, a member of the Navadurga Gana.

4. Tripurasundari Jatra of Dhading

Every year, during the Dashain festival, a jatra is held at the Tripurasundari temple located in Tripurasundari rural municipality of Dhading.  Amid the pandemic this year also, the temple is ready to conduct the jatra but in such a way that only priests and those devotees who have taken vows can enter the temple. All others will be restricted to visit the temple.

 Devi Kumari Pandey Burlakoti, the vice-chairperson of the rural municipality, says that the priests and those who have taken vows would only be allowed to enter the temple safely as they could not ask them not to come to the temple.

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