The biggest street celebration in Nepal is Indra Jatra, often referred to as Yenya. The eight-day long Indra Jatra festival falls in September and is one of the most exciting and revered festivals of the Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley. This also marks the beginning of a month-long festival season of autumn. It begins with the erection of a wooden pole made of pine at Basantapur Durbar Square in front of the old Hanuman Dhoka Palace. For the pole-raising ceremony, hundreds of spectators gather at the Durbar Square and in the surrounding temples. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess along with Bhairav and Ganesh is taken out in a procession through the main streets of Kathmandu.
According to mythological the celebration honors the day when Indra descended from heaven in human form to search for a herb called “parijat”. Lord Indra came to Kathmandu valley to pluck “Parijat” for his mother “Vasundhera” for the workship of lord shiva. Even on the earth the tree of Parijat was only found in the garden of a peasant in Kathmandu Valley. While pickling flower, garden owner gathered crowd because he believed Lord Indira was a thief. They caught and tight lord Indra and as a punishment, King ordered his courtiers to take him around the streets of the city. Later people came to know the person they believed as a thief is himself a lord Indra the King of heaven. After knowing this, people felt guilty and decide to worship Lord Indra as a pray for forgiveness and from that day Indra Jatra is believed to be celebrated.
During Indra Jatra, oil wicks are used to illuminate the shrines and historic palace structures near Kathmandu Durbar Square. Nearly every evening, masked dancers known as Lakhay perform in the streets to the accompaniment of loud drums. On the platform in front of the Living Goddess temple “Kumari Ghar”, a performance symbolizing Lord Vishnu's ten terrestrial incarnations is performed every night. At Indra Chowk, the enormous representation of Aakash Bhairab's head is publicly display in front of the temple. Ecstatic crowds assemble near Hanuman Dhoka Palace in the afternoon of the day before the full moon to see the long-awaited Living Goddess' chariot procession and catch a glimpse of the revered young Newari girl who has been deified as Kumari, or Goddess Taleju, in person. People gather in the tiny alleyways of the old Kathmandu to witness and pay respect as the chariot of the Kumari is pulled by two other, smaller chariots pulling a representative of Ganesh and Bhairav. The lowering of the (lingam) pole holding Indra's flag during religious rituals marks the conclusion of the Indra Jatra celebration.
Since the Indra Jatra is a celebration filled with joy, happiness, food, dances, and music so it can be a huge attraction for international tourists who would love to explore the vibrant culture and history of the Kathmandu valley. Indra Jatra can be a new and thrilling experience for tourists that they could not get in any corner of the world. Tourists who are looking for authentic and unique experiences in Nepal rather than trekking and mountaineering, Indra Jatra can be the perfect event for tourists. As Kathmandu is the perfect blend of modern technology and culture and history. International tourists can witness the largest cultural street festival with the locals of Kathmandu. If promoted and marketed properly in the international arena Indra Jatra has a huge potential to attract tourists.
Indra Jatra is celebrated by the local community of Kathmandu so the best way to experience Indra Jatra is to interact and blend well with the locals of Kathmandu. International tourists who are intrigued by the festivals of Nepal can experience them firsthand by staying with the local or the local communities. Tourists can stay with the newar community or family at the Newari homestay for a better experience of the festival. Hotel and Home can be a perfect platform for those international tourists who want to experience Indra Jatra firsthand. Hotel and Home have hotels, homestays, and hostels all under one platform which makes it easy for the traveler to choose the accommodation according to their experience and purpose of traveling. Tourists who are looking for authentic experiences and involvement in Indra Jatra can book their stay at homestays from Hotel and Home. There are homestays like Pigeon Homestay near Indrachowk where the festival takes place. Staying at this homestay can give you an insight knowledge and the host family can involve and guide you around and feed you with information regarding the festival.
Keeping its cultural and historical values intact, promoting Indra Jatra in the international market can help in the tourism sector of Nepal. Initiation has been taken by the local government of Kathmandu for the promotion of Indra Jatra. Indra Jatra can help in bring more number of tourist in the monsoon or off-season since the flow of tourists are very low during this time. Festival of Indra Jatra is the message that Nepal is rising and eagerly waiting to welcome more and more tourists with another greatest festival Dashain and Tihar on the corner.