Bisket Jatra is a two day festival celebrated in Bhaktapur during the last day of a Nepali year and the first day of the new calendar year. It is an ancient celebration of two important deities of Bhaktapur, god Bhairav and goddess Bhadrakali.
This festival is also celebrated in Tokha and Dhapasi. However, the celebrations at these places are not as popular as the jatra held at Bhaktapur.
According to history, during the reign of the Lichchhavi King Shiva Dev, he was facing a lot of attacks from the Kirats. He sought the protection of Goddess Bajrayogini, who told him to seek help from Guru Shekhar Aachaju.
After hearing the king’s pleas, Guru Aachaju reassured the king and told him his victory was certain. He told the king that he would transform himself into a ferocious tiger and scare away his foes. But when he returned, the king should not fear the tiger and instead should throw the aaskhyata given by the guru at the tiger. The king agreed.
Guru Aachaju transformed himself into a ferocious tiger, decimated the king’s enemies and returned in his tiger form. The king threw the aakshyata at the tiger and it transformed back into Guru Aachaju.
This incident amazed the guru’s wife and she asked her husband to transform himself into a giant snake. Unable to refuse his wife, Guru Aachaju gave his wife the same instructions as he gave the king and transformed himself into a snake.
Once he transformed himself, his wife became terrified and started running away instead. Guru Aachaju followed his wife so that she may hit him with the aakshyata. But the wife, in her terrified state, instead ate the aakshyata. As a result, she also transformed into a giant snake.
Hoping for some help, the two giant snakes went to the palace of the king. However, the king could not understand the situation and ordered his subjects not to hurt the snakes. Feeling hopeless, the two snakes killed themselves.
This caused a great famine in the country and the king, once again, sought the guru’s help. But at the guru’s house he found the two dead snakes and realized that they were the guru and his wife. He asked many tantriks for help, but none of them could do anything to save the two. So, grief-stricken, he organized a jatra called Bishyat (which later morphed into Bisket) to honor Guru Aachaju.
The celebration of Bisket Jatra starts a few days early when the two deities are enshrined in their chariots and pulled through the streets of Bhaktapur by young men. These two chariots rest at pre-appointed places around the city and people come out to offer flowers, fruits and sweets, coins etc.
On the last day of the old year, a 55 hands long wooden pole made from the wood of salla tree is erected. Long banners are hung from this pole symbolizing victory. On the New Years day, young men pull the pole to the ground.
Watch in video (by Transworld)
Bisket Jatra is a very exciting festival that occurs every year. Anyone may visit Bhaktapur during New Years’ time to watch, enjoy and participate in this festival.