BY BINU SHRESTHA,Kathmandu, Mar. 28: Just one day is left to start the three-day chariot procession of Seto Machhindrnath, one of the biggest chariot festivals celebrated in Kathmandu.
In the past, the chariot usually used to be pulled by only men. But the tradition came to an end five years ago when women were also allowed to pull it for the first time.
Now the women pull the chariot in a systematic way with men from Tindhara Pathsala but only on the first day of Seto Machhindranth chariot pulling festival, which falls on Wednesday this year.
Nani Hira Maharjan, president of Nani Hira Rath Yatra Committee, said that the women were ready to pull the chariot of Seto Machhindrnath with men this year.
The committee has prepared around 200 women to pull the chariot on the first day of the chariot procession on Wednesday, she said. The chariot is pulled for three days.
The chariot procession of Seto Machhindrnath, which is held to honour the rain god, is also known as 'Jana Baha Dyah Jatra'.
All those willing to pull the chariot can directly take part in its pulling. They need to wear comfortable dress but they should not wear valuable ornaments, she said. "We have also managed pass system for the women willing to take part in the chariot pulling procession, but pass is not mandatory".
Until 2018, women were not allowed to touch the chariot. The tradition ended by allowing the women to pull the tall chariot of the Seto Machhindrnath from Tindhara Pathsala of Jamal to Ratna Park in 2018.
"The women got the opportunity to pull the chariot after former Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Bidhya Sundar Shakya asked the women to pull it citing that women were allowed to pull the chariot of Kumari during the Indra Jatra," she said.
Earlier in 2017, the women were allowed to walk in the procession carrying the burning incenses on the front and back parts of the chariot. But a year later, they started pulling it.
However, the chariot procession was not organised in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maharjan further said that the women who take part in the incense procession should wear sari and other volunteers women jacket.
The Guthi Sansthan of Kathmandu has been constructing the chariot at Jamal.