Indra Jatra, also known as Yenya (Nepal Bhasa), is the biggest religious street festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. The celebrations consist of two events, Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra. Indra Jatra is marked by masked dances of deities and demons, displays of sacred images, and tableaus in honor of the deity Indra, the king of heaven. Kumari Jatra is the chariot procession of the living goddess Kumari. Family members deceased in the past year are also remembered during the festival. The main venue of the festivities is Kathmandu Durbar Square. The celebrations last for eight days from the 12th day of the bright fortnight to the 4th day of the dark fortnight of the eleventh month in the lunar Nepal Era calendar. Indra Jatra was started by King Gunakamadeva- (गुणकामदेव) to commemorate the founding of Kathmandu city in the 10th century. Kumari Jatra began in the mid-18th century. The celebrations are held according to the lunar calendar, so the dates are changeable.
The festival starts with the erection of Yosin or Linga, a pole from which the banner of Indra is unfurled, at Kathmandu Durbar Square. The pole, a tree shorn of its branches and stripped of its bark, is obtained from a forest near Nālā, a small town 29 km to the east of Kathmandu. It is dragged in stages to Durbar Square by men pulling on ropes.
Another event on the first day is Upāku Wanegu when participants visit shrines holding lighted incense to honor deceased family members. They also place small butter lamps on the way. Some sing hymns as they make the tour. The circuitous route winds along the periphery of the historic part of the city. The procession starts at around 4 pm.
Kumari Jatra, which means the chariot festival of Kumari, coincides with Indra Jatra. It was started in 1756 AD during the reign of Jaya Prakash Malla.
During this festival, three chariots carrying human representations of the deities Ganesh, Bhairava, and Kumari accompanied by musical bands are pulled along the festival route through Kathmandu for three days. The procession starts at around 3 pm.
On the first day of Kumari Jatra known as Kwaneya, the chariots are pulled through the southern part of town. The second day is the full moon day known as Yenya Punhi . During the procession known as Thaneya, the chariots are drawn through the northern part of Asan. And on the third day Nanichaya, the procession passes through the central section at Kilagal. Since 2012, the chariot of Kumari has been pulled by an all-women’s team on the third day of the chariot festival.
- Route on first day of chariot festival, Kwaneya (downtown procession): Basantapur, Maru, Chikanmugal, Jaisidewal, Lagan, Brahma Marga, Wonde, Hyumata, Kohity, Bhimsensthan, Maru, Basantapur.
- Route on second day of chariot festival, Thaneya (uptown procession): Basantapur, Pyaphal, Yatkha, Nyata, Tengal, Nhyokha, Nhaikan Tol, Asan, Kel Tol, Indra Chok, Makhan, Basantapur.
- Route on third day of chariot festival, Nānichāyā (midtown procession): Basantapur, Pyaphal, Yatkha, Nyata, Kilagal, Bhedasing, Indra Chok Makhan, Basantapur.