Education About Asia: Online Archives

On the Road with the Red God Macchendranath

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FILMMAKER KESANG TSETEN, A CITIZEN OF NEPAL, has created a magnificently choreographed depiction of a twelve-year Newari festival. The Newari are the indigenous group of the Kathmandu Valley. The festival is said to have been observed in the Kathmandu Valley for a millennium. During the festival, a chariot (ratha, a flat platform on four huge wheels) bearing the red god Macchendranath goes on the road between the towns of Bungamati (near Kathmandu) and Patan, with stops in between. This festival (jatra) is organized by various Newari Hindu and Buddhist devotional societies. To Hindus, the deity is Shiva; to Buddhists, he is Avalokiteshwara.