New Year Day
The official New Year or Nava barsa, according to the solar calendar, is celebrated throughout the country. The day falls in mid April. New year day is celebrated with merriment and colorful shows. People extend best wishes to each other and organize music and dance programs. Vikram Sambat is a new year day, after the name of Vikramaditya, the emperor of India sub-continent, more than 2000 years ago.
Bisket of Bhaktapur
In Bhaktapur, a historical town, 12km east of Kathmandu, the new year day is celebrated in grand manner observing religious rituals. The festival is called Bisket and it has its origin in ancient history, legends and mythology. Some linguists believe that the word Bisket originate from two Newari words “bi” for snake and ‘syako’ for slaughter. People relate different stories about the festival, however, they are more or less similar. To sum up the different stories, Bisket is celebrated to commemorate the death of two huge serpent demons and the marriage of an extraordinary princess believed to have taken place in the prehistoric time.
On the day before new year near about eighty feet long huge pole, lingam of a shorn tree is erected with the efforts of thousands of people. The symbols of two dead serpents also are hung on the pole. In the afternoon of new year’s day an enormous crowd gathers around the pole and feels it amidst great cheers and rejoicing. It symbolizes the end of the old year. The festival is celebrated for five days.
During the period the idols of Bhairava (the deity representing the destructive force of lords Shiva) and the goddess Bhadrakali are kept in the rathas (the chariot of gods) made in accordance with the Vedic and Tantric traditions, and those rathas are pulled on the streets of the place along with the rathas of other deities. The ceremonious procession of thousands of worshippers and musicians offer worship to other innumerable deities too.
Bisket is celebrated in slightly different manner in the village of Thimi, two miles west of Bhaktapur.
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This Article and upcoming posts are extracted from the book, TOURIST INFORMATION DIRECTORY, 1997. by my Late Father Journalist, Sociologist & Anthropologists, Er. Ramesh Chandra Bandhu Bhattarai.