Biska Jatra - A Nepali New Year Festival marking the Death of the Serpent

 Bisket Jatra Celebrated by Nepalese during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Thousands of Nepalese gathered in the town of Thimi to celebrate the Bisket Jatra festival, despite a government order that gatherings not exceed 25 participants. To welcome the arrival of spring, coloured powder is spread as part of the festivities. Bisket Jatra is a nine-day festival that started on Saturday. The Supreme Court has released an injunction preventing the New Year Bisket Jatra from taking place in Bhaktapur.

A single bench of Justice Purushottam Bhandari heard a writ petition filed by Raj Kumar Suwal, a local resident and advocate in Bhaktapur, and ordered the District Administration Office in Bhaktapur not to carry out the decision to stop the festival. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the COVID-19 Crisis Management Operations Center, chaired by Chief District Officer Prem Prasad Bhattarai, agreed not to facilitate the procession. The Supreme Court heard a writ petition challenging the ruling and ruled that the cultural procession would proceed. The administration's decision to halt the procession infuriated locals and guthiyars in Bhaktapur. The Supreme Court has also ordered the authorities to explain why the procession was stopped.

Locals in Kathmandu are not only uncertain about whether they can proceed with their festival as scheduled or heed the official call as the new jatra season begins in the country's culturally rich capital, but they are also enraged.

The Biska Jatra in Bhaktapur was set to begin on April 10th. Locals in the city, however, are venting their disappointments and disagreements with the decision online following the April 4 order against the program. Soon after the decision was announced, an online call for a rally was put in motion. Such instructions mean that the government is ‘targeting' the local festivals and the Newa culture. That is what has left the group enraged. The authorities, like all political events, should and should work with the locals to help organize the festivals and reduce disease concerns. Locals will not be silent and will not passively obey orders. Locals have also staged the first round of protests.

Infections and diseases are a threat to all. However, various individuals in culture have opposing viewpoints. Experts advise against drinking and smoking for health reasons, but many people do. So, once the crowd gathers and begins the festival, no one will be able to stop them. The people of Bode have stated that if the government decides to cancel the festivals this year, they will fight back vehemently. They should not recognize the health risks when political party meetings are to be organized. When it comes to the Newa festivals, however, they begin to clash. Our community's festivals are important to us, and we will ensure that they are organized as planned.

Locals are preparing for the Paachahre festival, as well as the larger annual Chandeshwori Mela and Biska Jatra, which begins on April 13. Locals claim they've already brought a lingo, a symbolic pole erected to signal the start of festivals, and that they're cleaning up the area and deciding, hoping that the festivals will bring the area to life this year.

 Biska Jatra Celebrated since Antiquity in Nepal

Biska Jatra, also known as Bisket Jatra, is a Nepalese festival held in Bhaktapur, Dhapasi, Madhyapur Thimi, and Tokha, among other places, every year. On the Bikram Sambat calendar, the festival begins at the start of the new year however, the festival is unrelated to Bikram Sambat.

This festival is said to be the "festival after the death of the snake," according to legend. This festival is observed in different parts of Bhaktapur district, each with its own rituals. The most eventful locations are Taumadhi Square and Thimi Balkumari. A chariot bearing the statue of Lord Bhairava is dragged by hundreds of people to towards upper or Thaney and lower or Koney Tole as tug of war. The chariot is assembled near the Nyatapola temple, or five stair temple, about a month before the festival.

The signature event on Bhaktapur Taumadhi is a tug-of-war between the Thane (upper) and Kone (lower) parts of town, which sets off the biska jatra "dya koha bijyaigu," which means the god Bhairav is carried outside from its temple for festival. The chariot is drawn from both sides, and whoever wins that section of town gets to ride in the chariot while the other sides wait their turn. On the eve of the Nepali New Year, the chariot is finally pulled down to Gahiti, where it is held for two days before being pulled down to Lyasinkhel.

In the yosi khyo, a 25-meter Yoh si Dyo has been erected. The chariot is then driven into the lyasinkhel, where it will be held until the next day. On the eve of the New Year, the Yoh si is lowered. Then again the chariot is pulled to gahiti and on last day which is also called " dya thaha bijyaigu" which means god bhairav is again taken to temple, the chariot is again pulled on both sides and finally settled to the premises of 5 storied temple.

Biska Jatra is celebrated in Madhyapur Thimi or Thimi, Nagadesh, and Bode, among other locations. In Layeku Thimi, people from all over Madhyapur Thimi assemble, each with their own chariot. People throw simrik colour powder and play Dhimay music to cheer and exchange greetings.

Bode witnesses a tongue-piercing ceremony. One city dweller spends his days with an iron spike slicing his tongue and roams the streets with numerous flaming torches slung over his back. The most well-known tongue piercer town is Juju Bhai Shrestha.