The month long Rato Machchhindranath Jatra concluded on June 7, Friday for this year. The last day, also known as Bhoto Jatra, is observed with the display of the Bhoto, a bejeweled vest, that has remained unclaimed for around 1600 years.
The Bhoto was displayed three times before a crowd at Jawalakhel, Lalitpur in the presence of President Ram Baran Yadav and top government officials.
Although there are several versions of the legend behind the Bhoto and its Jatra, all of the stories involve a Jyapu farmer, a thief, and the Karkotaka Naga.
Legends have it that the Karkotaka Naga, the chief of the serpents and who lived at Taudaha (near Chovar), gifted a diamond-encrusted vest to a Jyapu after he cured the Naga’s sick wife. The Nag was in the Valley in a human form in search of a Baidhya (homeopathic doctor) who could cure his wife’s eye disorder. On seeing the Jyapu using herbal paste on his wound, the Nag requested him to accompany him to cure his wife at home despite the Jyapu’s denial of being a Baidhya.
However, one hot afternoon, not being able to tolerate the heat, the farmer, while working on his field, unfastened the vest and kept it in a nearby alley. Alas! The vest disappeared.
According to Yagya Ratna Shakya’s, one of the priests of the Machhendranath Temple at Bungamati of Patan, a ghost stole the vest.
Despite a lot of endeavor, the farmer could not track down his valuable asset.
However, during a Rato Machhendranath Jatra, the farmer spotted the ghost in his precious vest. It is believed that gods, ghosts and spirits along with human beings gathered in Patan to witness the Jatra and even participated in the procession of drawing the chariot,” adds Shakya.
On seeing the ghost with his rightful vest, the farmer started a heated argument, which came to the notice of the concerned authorities. But as both of them could not produce proofs that the vest belonged to either of them, it was put on a public display in the Jatra. Upon a mediator’s advice, the vest was offered to Lord Machhendranath, also known as Karunamaya, God of Compassion. The very same day it was also declared that whoever produced evidences could take back the vest.
According to Bhakta Raj Rai, chief of the Lalitpur Guthi, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is preparing a proposal for the UNESCO to enlist the festival under world cultural heritages.