Nepal starts Indra Jatra festival with goddess, dance

UNB/AP . Kathmandu | Update:

Masked dancers perform a traditional mask dance during the Indra Jatra Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal on 11 September 2019. Photo: Reuters

Devotees pulled a girl believed to be a living goddess, Kumari, around Nepal's capital on a wooden chariot as tens of thousands of people lined the streets to get a glimpse and receive a blessing.

A young girl dressed as the Living Goddess Kumari smiles as she speaks with her mother during the Kumari Puja festival, in which young girls pose as the Living Goddess Kumari and are worshipped by people in belief that their children will remain healthy, in Kathmandu, Nepal on 11 September 2019. Photo: ReutersPresident Bidhya Devi Bhadari and other top officials were among those seeking a blessing Friday from the girl, one in a long series who have been worshipped as a living goddess.

Indra Jatra is an eight-day festival celebrated mostly by the Newar community, the native residents of Kathmandu. It is also known as the festival of deities and demons. It especially honors Indra, the Hindu god of rain, to mark the end of the monsoon season.

Matina Shakya (C), a former Kumari, watches as another child is revered as a living goddess or Kumari, during a chariot procession on the main day of the Indra Jatra festival at Basantapur Durbar Square in Kathmandu on 13 September 2019. Photo: AFPIndra Jatra begins a festival season that runs until October, during which both Hindus and Buddhists celebrate with family, feasts and merry making.

Families gathered Friday for feasts and at shrines to light incense for the dead, and men and boys in colourful masks and gowns representing Hindu deities danced to traditional music and drums, drawing throngs of spectators to the city's old streets.

Masked dancers perform a traditional mask dance during the Indra Jatra Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal on 11 September 2019. Photo: ReutersThe masked dancers, one of the highlights of the ceremony, can be fearsome, entertaining and awe-inspiring, depending on the performers' movements.

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