The Newari community of the state is all set to celebrate Indra Jatra, one of the major festivals of Newar or the Pradhan community. This year Indra Jatra falls on September 13.
Indra Jatra, also called ‘Yenya’ is the biggest festival for the Newar community, celebrated with much pomp and gaiety.
‘Indra’ means the king of heaven and also the God of rain, while ‘Jatra’ means procession. Thus, Indra Jatra is a celebration for thanking Lord Indra. The festival also celebrates the arrival of autumn season. The devotees, especially the farmers, thank the rain god. Devotees also worship Vairav/Bhairab, who is believed to be the destroyer of evil, Lord Ganesh and Kumari, the living goddess.
Indra Jatra generally falls on September and is celebrated for eight days – from the twelfth day of the bright fortnight to the fourth day of the dark fortnight of the eleventh month in the lunar Nepal era calendar. This year, the festival takes place from September 10 to 17, and the main day falls on September 13.
The festival onsets by remembering the deceased family members who passed away during the past year, by offering oil lamps. On the main day of the festival, a large number of Newari people gather together, which is later followed by religious processions accompanied by traditional musical ornaments. Lakhay dance is performed by masked dancers and various other traditional performances mark the celebrations.
In the year 2011, the state government declared Indra Jatra as a state holiday. Similar to every year, the Sikkim Newar Guthi (SNG) will be organising the state-level celebrations of the festival in a grand manner in Gangtok on September 13. Huge procession snakes around the streets of Gangtok after performing various religious rituals at Bhanu Park .
Another main attraction of the day is the Kumari Jatra, during which a chariot bearing the living goddess’ (who resides in Nepal) portrait is taken out for the procession.