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Bisket Jatra kicks off amid tight security in Bhaktapur

  

Reuters

Devotees attempting to reach out for the idol of God Bhairav as the priest carries the idol towards the chariot during the Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur on Thursday. The festival runs for more than a week and coincides with the Nepali New Year

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

KATHMANDU: The first day of Bisket Jatra, the biggest festival of Bhaktapur, concluded today after locals pulled a three-storey chariot of Bhairav from Taumadhi-based Bhairavnath temple to Gahiti.

The distance between Taumadhi and Gahiti is about 200 metres.

In the wake of clashes and unpleasant incidents during previous years’ celebrations, the Metropolitan Police Circle, in association with Bhaktapur Guthi Sansthan and local clubs, had stepped up security measures for the festival.

Last year, three persons had died after the chariot ran over them.

Though the chariot can only accommodate 20 persons, about 100 people had climbed on to the moving chariot last year. More than 800 security forces belonging to Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force have been mobilised to the core areas of Bhaktapur to prevent any untoward incident. Likewise, surveillance cameras have been installed to keep tab on revellers on the route of chariot.

Stone-pelting and clashes among locals are a common scene at the jatra every year. Police have warned that any person found indulging in drunken brawl and hooliganism would be arrested on the spot and charged with public offences.

They have distributed volunteers’ ID cards to around 500 persons affiliated to local clubs to check upon people trying to climb the chariot.

Sale and distribution of liquor has been banned in the areas where the chariot is pulled through.

The festival dates back to the Lichhavi period.

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