The Rato Machhindra Nath, which is also worshiped as the ‘God of Rain’, is popular with many names. Karunamaya, Loknath, Bungadhhyo, Bodhisattwa, Padmapani, Awalokeswara etc. to name a few. There is a long tradition to worship this deity as the all-compassionate god of rain and food grain.
Until a few decades ago, before the Kathmandu Valley became a purely commercial hub, it was an agricultural land, which depended upon the rainy monsoon for its important rain crops.
Today, though traditional farming practices have reduced, the pre-monsoon season still sees great worship made to Red Machhindranath. Patan’s streets and palace complexes are made even more evocative by wavering lamp and candle lights, women busily cooking feasts and men gathering strength to pull the chariot of the ‘Rain-God’.
As Lord Machhindranath views his followers from the high seat of his chariot, its four wheels, representing the four powerful Bhairab, receive rice and vermilion powder, the King of Serpents is asked for blessing, and his jeweled vest is shown to the Public on the day of ‘Bhoto Jatra‘.
Nepal, where more than 80% of the people depend upon agriculture. Even to this era of science and technology, majority of farmers depend upon monsoon for cultivation.
In Nepal, monsoon begins in the middle of June and continues till August. But the Nepalese farmers begin to worry long before the monsoon wondering whether they are going to get enough rain or not this year.
So in order to persuade themselves and stay relaxed, they pray to the ‘Rain God’ for better harvest. This is why the first day of the bright fortnight of Baishakh, the first month of Nepali New Year, is regarded as the most propitious occasion for the entire farmers’ community especially of Kathmandu Valley.
The ‘Rato Machhindra Nath Jatra’ begins on the first day of the bright fortnight of Baishakh, the first month of Nepali New Year. The chariot of ‘Rato Machhindra Nath’ is built before the festival and is again disassembled after the festival every year.
A group of enthusiastic, highly skilled and brave people take the responsibility of this tremendous task. They set themselves to the entire duty of carrying the materials and building the gigantic chariot which is as tall as 4 storeyed ordinary building.
It is the same people who pull the chariot and throughout the fixed routes of Patan City.
Beside this, those enthusiastic people Jyapus are also a great passionate for music. In Nepal, there is hardly any festival without music. The very popular drum Dhimaya and Bhushya are the main musical instruments for the festival.
The glorious beat of Dhimaya,one of the most popular newari percussion and the Bhushya, newari brass drags the attention of the people and signifies that the festival has begun or is going on. The music is such an enthusiastic that it suddenly puts the entire mass into a most enjoyable mood and excitement.
Numerous customs and rituals are the lime light of the festival. Bhoto Jatra is one of the highlight of the festival. This Jatra is all about the display of the sacred vest.
It is believed that the Rato Machhindra Nath was entrusted with a jeweled vest after there was a dispute over its ownership. So the vest is displayed three times so that the owner gets a chance to claim it (though this does not happen in real).
The head of the state also attends this ceremony. National holiday is declared on this day.