Sikkim: 'Indra Jatra', history and significance of the vibrant festival

The extravagant cultural fiesta of Indra Jatra is celebrated around August-September and lasts for about eight days. It brings the whole valley to life with vibrancy. This is one of the best times to plan your trip to Sikkim.

With a mood of festivity all around, cultural programs, chariot processions and masked dance performances representing various deities and demons, take everyone in awe of their mesmerising richness.

History-

Indra Jatra or “Yenya” is an important religious festival for the Nepalese “Newar” community in Sikkim.

It is celebrated with much fanfare throughout the state.

Named after the Hindu God of Rain and also the King of Heaven, Lord Indra, the festival’s prime objective is to seek his blessings in the form of rains and showers.

The legend of the festival goes back to the Vedic times, when  Lord  Indra’s (king of Heaven) mother needed specially scented flowers (Parijat). Indra was later imprisoned by the people of Kathmandu Valley, after having him caught stealing the rare and fragrant ‘Parijat Flowers’ from the valley for his mother. It is then when the people realised who he actually was, they released him and promised to dedicate one of the most colourful festivals to him.

Indra Jatra chariot

In return they requested him to visit the valley every year, thereby blessing it with rains and prosperity.

While it is predominantly a Nepalese festival, it is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm by the Nepalese Newar Gutthi community in Sikkim too and was introduced in the year 2000 followed by its declaration as the state holiday in 2011.

A temple during Indra Jatra

Significance –

The most special highlight of the festival is marked by a huge procession that is taken along the streets of Gangtok after performing various religious rituals at Bhanu Park. 

Masked dance performances including Pulu Kishi, Lakhey, Mahakali and Sawa Bhaku along the pageant provide for an enchanting sight to all the spectators.

One of the yet another much awaited events of the Indra Jatra Festival is the ‘Kumari Jatra’ where young girls are selected to be living goddesses ‘Kumari’, an incarnation of Goddess ‘Telaju’ and are taken out on a procession in a chariot.

Kumari Jatra

People gather in huge numbers to have a glimpse of the Kumari, thereby receiving her blessings for a happy and blissful life.

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