April 13, 2015 , by Mohan Duwal & Subhash Ram Prajapati, 2 Comments
The deep rumble of hundreds of the dhimay drums, vermilion powder all over the street marks the Bisket festival in Madhyapur Thimi and neighboring towns. Undoubtedly, Bisket Jatra carries a profound historical significance. Beside the history and the culture associated with the festival, in modern day context, it is also a model that shows how an entire community can come together regardless of their social status and political beliefs; and blend together without any sort of discrimination.

DREAMS Heritage Series
Bisket JatraBhaktapur & Madhyapur Thimi
Many people associate the Bisket festival with different legends related to the serpents. According to them, the word ‘Bisket’ or ‘Biskah’ is derived from ‘Bee Sikah‘, which means ‘after the death of the serpents’. But from various chronicles, sacred writings, inscriptions and the culture of Bisket, it is known that it was not used in the sense of death of serpents. The word Biskah or Bisket is derived from the word ‘Bishwa Ketu‘ – the flag pole erected in Bisket.
The erecting of the pole flag (yosin) is the essence of Bisket Jatra wherever it is celebrated. Historical evidences suggest that different chariot festivals and other traditions in different places were added only some time later. For example – according to Gopalrajvanshavali, the tradition of erecting of the yosin was started in Bhaktapur in 1294 AD while the chariot festival was initiated much later by Bhupatindra Malla and the festival became eight nights and nine days of celebration.
Bisket jatra is the most spectacular festival in many parts of Bhaktapur, Thimi, Sanga, Tokha, Sunakothi, Dhulikhel etc. This festival is celebrated according to Vikram Era, but in fact there is no relationship between the Bisket Jatra and the Vikram Era. It is celebrated for four days in Thimi. A day before a new year, firing of forest wood takes place which is known as ‘gusin chhoyekegu’. A traditional wooden pole with flags used to be erected in front of Balkumari Temple of Thimi but this is no more in practice now. On this day, the palanquin festival takes place in Vishnuvir. On the same night, from Layekoo, palanquins of deities are carried with dhimay baja and flaming torches to Kwachhen (Dakshin Barahi), around which the palanquins are revolved.

On the first day of the year (1st Baishakh) devotees from around the town gather at Balkumari and worship all throughout the day. In the evening, hundreds of ceremonial oil lamps are lit. Some devotees light oil lamps even on their legs, chests, foreheads, arms and lie in the same posture for hours. On this very day, in Siddhikali and Vishnuvir of Thimi, separate Bisket Jatra takes place in the evening.

A festival is always significant when the people enjoy more by taking part than just watching. The second day of Baishakh is the day when the number of participants exceeds that of the observers. On this day, 32-chariot festival takes place at Balkumari early in the morning. The number of chariots these days are not exactly 32 since the Bisket Jatra got divided into Bodey, Tigani and Nagadesh. The chariots are gathered around Balkumari and are revolved around the temple by the participants. While playing with vermilion powder, they carry chariots and lights, and play traditional drums, dhimay and nayakhin in particular.
On the same day, Bisket festival also takes place in Nagadesh and Tigani of Madhyapur Thimi. In Bodey, an extraordinary festival takes place at Bhangutole – the tongue-piercing festival. The one who has his tongue pierced should belong to the Shrestha caste. The person after getting his tongue pierced, walks around the town shouldering a round bamboo rack with flaming torches, which begins the 7-chariot Bisket Jatra. While it is for the researchers to find when this tradition was started, the custome worn by the tongue piercer suggests that it should date back to the Licchavi period. The reason being, it matches with the traditional dress as described by 5th and 7th century Chinese travelers Fa Xian and Xuan Zang. 
Bisket Jatra Schedule in Madhyapur Thimi
Events Place Day Time
Vishnuvir Jatra Sungah Tole Last day of Chaitra Evening
Chanhasiya Jatra Layekoo-
Last day of Chaitra Night
Siddhikali Jatra/ Vishnuvir Jatra Siddhikali/
1st Baishakh Evening
Balkumari Jatra Balkumari 2nd Baishakh Morning
Nagadesh Jatra Nagadesh 2nd Baishakh Morning
Tigani Jatra Tigani 2nd Baishakh Morning
Tongue piercing & Palanquin revolving Bodey 2nd Baishakh Afternoon
Chapahcho Ganesh & Chodey Ganesh Jatra Chapahcho/
3rd Baishakh Evening
The tradition of erecting the flag pole (yosin) is the essence of Bisket Jatra.
This tradition has been extinct in Thimi some 40 years ago. In Nagadesh, the flag is carried by people instead during the festival. 

Words by Subhash Ram Prajapati.
Follow Mohan on Twitter @jwajalapa.

Photos by Mohan Duwal.
Follow Mohan on Twitter @mkduwal.

To see more by Mohan Duwal on DREAMS, click here.

  • bisket_banner2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Heritage Series, Liefstyle

2 comments on “BISKET JATRA

  1. Puran says:

    Happy Bisket Jatra to all

Leave a Reply

Connect with:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Related Articles