Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley observe Indra Jatra festival this week.
The eight-day long Indra Jatra festival is celebrated during the month of September every year and is one of the most exciting festivals of the Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley. It begins with a lingam (wooden pole) raising ceremony at Basantapur Square in front of the old Hanuman Dhoka Palace. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out in a procession through the main streets of Kathmandu.
The masked dancers, Lakhay performs on the streets almost every evening accompanied by loud drums. The festival commemorates the time when Indra came down from heaven in the form of a human to look for a herb. Each night on the platform in front of the temple of the Living Goddess, there is an enactment depicting the ten earthly incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The large image of Akash Bhairav's head is put on display out in the open directly facing his temple at Indra Chowk.
In the afternoon of the day before the full moon, ecstatic mobs gather near Hanuman Dhoka Palace for the long-awaited Living Goddess’ chariot procession to catch a glimpse of the little Newari girl who has been worshipped as Kumari representing the Goddess Taleju. The chariot of the Kumari followed by two other smaller chariots carrying representatives of Lord Ganesh and Bhairav is taken to different parts of the Kathmandu where people gather to watch and pay homage.
The festival of Indra Jatra ends with the lowering of the lingam bearing Indra's flag amidst religious ceremonies.