Nepal has numerous festivals that go back to the eon when the gods walked the earth and interacted with mortal humans directly. The story of Indra Jatra which falls on September 27th Sunday this year, starts with the young Indra, the king of the heavens, being asked by his mother to go to earth and collect some Parijat flowers (night jasmine) for her ritual. Parijat is the special jasmine flower that blossoms all night but falls off in the morning. The obedient Indra comes to earth, finds the flowers and begins to collect them.
The locals observe the young lad and mistake him for a thief. They catch him and tie him to two poles; and you can see the image of the Indra tied to the poles at Maru in Hanumandhoka Durbar Square during the Indra Jatra festival for seven days. Indra’s mother who is now impatient and worried about how long Indra is taking to bring back the flowers decides to go look for him in Kathmandu. The local people then realize what they have done, apologizing to the mother and decide to have a festival to send the king of heaven and his mother back.
During the festival, you will see an “elephant” moving into the crowds and out again creating great commotion. The elephant symbolizes Airawat, Indra’s pet elephant, searching for him in the crowds. In the main Hanumandhoka Square, on the first day of the festival , the Indra Dhoja or victory flag of Indra is also raised in front of the Taleju temple and the large statue of Kal Bhairab. It is a really good week to be in Kathmandu. The feasts associated with Indra Jatra never seems to end