Kahi nabhaeko jatra Hadigaunma, goes a popular saying that literally means- a fiesta found nowhere takes place in Hadigaun, a small cultural city in Kathmandu. The adage implies ancient myth, humour and anachronism. It is often used to signify incongruous situation or events. Nonetheless, the adage forms unique identity of Hadigaun that is a home of multiple Jatras, namely Satya Narayan Jatra, Gahana Khojne Jatra, Ropai Jatra, Rath Dubaune Jatra, Bhatey Jatra and Krishna Jatra. One may wonder how a small town manages and celebrate such a number of religious carnivals. But the Hadigaun locals have been celebrating these Jatras for centuries, keeping alive the ancient culture and tradition. The colourful celebrations are the best way to express the people’s collective feelings and demonstrate the social unity no matter how and when they came into existence.
The other day Hadigaun people observed Satya Narayan Jatra amid a fanfare. It festival has its root in a popular legend. The locals had begun to organise it to delight Lord Satya Narayan, who is also known as God Vishnu. A woman who was undergoing labour pain called her mother for help. Coincidently, God Narayan happened to walk by her house in a human guise. The Lord asked the woman to recite Lord Narayan’s name but the labouring woman got angry and scolded him to go away. It was too much for the Lord and he went to live in Himalayas. On the other hand, the woman continued to suffer pain and could not give a birth to baby for 12 years. When the people knew that wrath of Narayan was behind her agony, they went to get him. But furious God turned down their request to come to Hadigaun. Finally, he descended on the village after the locals promised to show him spectacular Jatra. Then, the woman had successfully delivered a baby boy. Hence it was coined Satya Narayan Jatra.
Generation after generation came and went but the locals have sustained mythical fiesta to date. The locals start preparations of Jatra on the second day of Dashain and celebrate on the last day of great Hindu festival. The devotees present wax flowers to the idol of God placed on the top of chariot. Gajur (pinnacles) are attached at the bottom. The people offer prayers at the foot of the inverted chariot. So this Jatra is different from other festivals. The chariot is taken out from Kotal tole, Nyalma tole and Bhimsen tole respectively. A large number of locals participate in the religious carnival. But the Jatra is facing crisis with the declining number of youths to pull the chariot. According to the news report published in this daily, at least 27 physically stout persons are required to carry it throughout the Jatra period. However, many young people have gone abroad for study and job. As a result, the old Newar settlement is now in the shortage of youths to effectively run the festival. Given the unique nature of Jatra, it is imperative for the concerned institutions to conserve it. Young people should be encouraged to contribute to the preservation of such festivals steeped in the history and culture of society.