Yanya Punhi falls in the end of Bhadra (August/September). Both Hindus and Buddhists unite to celebrate the festival of Indra Jatra with great enthusiasm. It is one of the festivals of classical dances. It is on this very day when one is able to observe numerous varieties of traditional dances.The festival is dedicated to Lord Indra; the king of heaven.This is a week long festival that starts after erection of Yosin, a ceremonal pole.An idol of Indra is displayed at various places. Indra's hands are seen tied up by rope just like those of thieves.Although he looks like a thief, people do not hate him, instead the idol is worshipped because Indra admitted his sin and blessed the city.
According to legend, Lord Indra came to Kathmandu disguised as an ordinary man and tried to steal a special flower called "Parijat" for his mother. Local tantriks, with their power of tantras caught him red handed and bound his hands. Later, after he confessed his sin and made ready to bless the city, he was released. And, people began to celebrate the Indra Jatra festival.
On the first day, the president of Nepal also pays homage to Goddess Kumari.The crowd of excited people from performers to spectators engulfs the streets of kathmandu during this festival. Many processions take place in this festival. The main attraction of this festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons.Mainly in this procession following takes part:
Majipa Lakhey is a special Lakhey. He is also known as the peaceful Bhairav. The dance of this lakhey takes place only in the week of full moon of Yenlaa month of Nepal Sambat. This lakhey is considered to be the protector of the children in Kathmandu. The Lakhe dancer wears a mask with a scary face and has red hair. He runs and dances recklessly around the city during the festival and is also supported by a man holding a flaming torch and a musical band.
According to stories passed down the generaions, a lakhey is supposed to have fallen love with a girl from Majipa.So, the demon takes form of a human and enters the city to see his beloved. Upon knowing the fact that the person is a lakhey, the people capture the lakhey and present him to the king. The king makes a proposal to the demon that he will grant him a place in the city if he vows to preserve the childern from other demons and participate in the annual Yanyaa Punhi Jatra.The Lakhey agrees and is supposed to reside in majipa ever since.
Pulukisi (or Tanakisi)
The hollow painted elephant. Three people go inside an elephant costume and start their journey in a wild way accompanied by a man holding a flaming torch and a musical band. The Pulukisi appears once in a year during this festival from Kilagal.All the local people basically children are very happy to see the dance of the pulukisi. Many of local persons also do worship pulukisi as regarding as the ganesh god.
Sawan Bhaku is claimed to be god so are workshipped by local persons. Sawan Bhaku wears mask with red cultural dress. One of them carries the sharped weapon and comes in blue dress.he is reagarded as Bhairab. They shows dance in many places.The most interesting thing is that during puja the raw eggs are also devoted to Sawan bhaku,and they just eat the raw eggs and get drink too much wine. Most amazing thing is that their health is not affected due to lots of raw eggs and too much wine. It is said to be encarnation of the god in them in the time of wearing the mask.
Chariots of Ganesh, Bhairab and Kumari
Three chario ts of Ganesh, Bhairab and Kumari is pulled around Kathmandu during the Yanya Punhi in series wise.It is said that the chariots of ganesh and Bhairab is taken for the protection of Kumari god. Kumari is considered to be only one living goddess in Nepal, the bodily incarnation of Taleju Bhawani.She is a Hindu goddess but Kumari is represented by a Buddhist girl of the Shakya, a clan within the Newar community. A chariot carrying Kumari is pulled around Kathmandu during Indra Jatra. The tradition was started by the last Malla King of Kathmandu, Jaya Prakash Malla.
Along with above processions festivals, including the Procession of Goddess-Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Dasha Avatara masked dances are staged in Kathmandu Durbar Square, near the Kumari Temple. The "Dasha Avatara" refers to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu who is one of the Hindu's Holy trinity
Gigantic mask of Aakash Bairab represented by a massive mask spouting beer and liquor is also displayed in this festival. Households throughout Kathmandu display images and sculptures of Indra and Bhairab only at this time of year.After the chariots of godess are pulled around the Kathmandu, people moves towards the mask to have drop of beer and liqor spouted throught that mask as (prasad) of Asak bhairab.
This festival is also observed by the Newars as a day to remember the family members who passed away during the past year by offering small oil lamps along a traditional route covering all the parts of the old city. It is believed to have been started during the reign of Mahendra Malla.
The excitement of the festival of Indra Jatra comes to an end on the last evening of the festival when the long wooden pole erected on the first day is lowered with religious ceremonies, animal sacrifices and ritual gestures.