It was all set. There was a brand new chariot of Rato Machhindranath, built with fresh timber and ropes after 12 years, as part of the longstanding tradition. The auspicious puja for the ascension of the deity was performed on April 19. And a week later April 25, the earthquake struck the country. The devastating quake that killed more than 8,800 people, injured more than 22,000 and flattened tens of thousands of houses also broke some parts of the chariot, which had on that fateful day was in Chyasikot, Bungmati of Lalitpur. The ancient temple of Rato Machhindranath in Bungmati too collapsed in the devastating earthquake.
It has been more than two months since the major quake, but uncertainty looms over the monthlong procession, which is called this time Barha Barse Mela.
Rudranath Adhikari, chief of Guthi Sansthan, Lalitpur, said his office has written to Guthi Sansthan head office requesting immediate support to reconstruct the chariot. The procession has been halted due to delay in the reconstruction of broken parts. “We are yet to receive a response from the head office,” said Adhikari. “The broken beams have to be repaired for the procession to begin.”
Around Rs 6.5 million was invested to construct the chariot with fresh timber and ropes after a gap of 12 years. “The axis, poles, wheels, ropes and upper body parts of the chariot are fine according to an inspection carried out by Newar Bose, Barahi and Yanwal communities, who are involved in constructing the chariot,” he said.
Dil Kumar Barahi, a leader of the Barahi community, said, “I have no idea when the chariot procession will begin, as the broken beams need to be fixed first.”
Even if the chariot procession begins, said Dil Kumar, it may not be smooth, as ‘wooden poles and iron beams used for supporting precarious and cracked buildings on the way of the chariot procession could create obstruction’.
Saroj Thapalia, Deputy Administrator of Guthi Sansthan head office, said the broken parts of the chariot will be fixed within a month. “We have extra wood in our stock to reconstruct the broken parts,” he added.
As per the tradition, the Rato Machhindranath chariot procession is accompanied by the chariot of Minnath when it reaches Gabahal. The chariot of Minnath is waiting at Gabahal for the chariot of Rato Machhindranath to arrive.