BHAKTAPUR, APR 10 - Bisket Jatra , the famous cultural and historical festival of Bhaktapur, commenced from Thursday, plunging this ancient town into a festive mood. However, a general sense of security fear is palpable with the festive air in the town.
The festival that starts few days before the commencement of the Nepali New Year is celebrated with gusto for eight nights and nine days.
On the first day of the festival, a wooden chariot built in the traditional Pagoda style and with the idols of the chief deity of the Bhairavnath and the Betal deity ensconced inside is towed from the local Panchtaley Temple and taken around the Thaney (upper) and Kwaney (lower) streets.
The pulling of the chariot evokes security fears as the locals of the upper and the lower streets jostle to try and pull the chariot towards their area which sometimes results in a melee and violence.
People get killed in clashes or run over by the huge wheels of the chariot almost every year in course of this festival, which naturally raises concerns.
In view of this, the Bhaktapur District Administration has beefed up the security and deployed 800 Nepal Police personnel and 500 Armed Police Force personnel. The administration has also banned the sale of home-brewed alcohol.
Meanwhile, a huge peace rally was organised in Bhaktapur today before the commencement of the festival under the leadership of the Bhaktapur District Administration Office, calling for making the Bisket Jatra peaceful.
The peace rally started from the Panchtaley (five-storied) temple and went around different parts of the town. Employees of government offices, police, political parties, civil society, the representatives of local clubs, media persons and various organisations participated in the rally.