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Ancient jewel-studded vest missing after Nepal quake

By Ians English

Kathmandu, May 9: The search for idols, jewellery, gajur or temple's pinnacle and the renowned Bhoto or jewel-studded vest presumed to be buried under the rubble of the collapsed Rato Machindranath temple at Bungmati in Nepal is still continuing but there is suspicion that some of the valuable items have been stolen.

The ancient temple collapsed in the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that shook half of Nepal on April 25.


Guthi Sansthan Lalitpur chief Rudranath Adhikari said although the idols of various gods and goddesses have been recovered along with that of God Bhimsen and jewellery, the Bhoto, which is the centre of attraction of the Rato Machindranath festival, is still missing.

The most important event connected with the deity is the annual chariot procession known as Bunga Dyah Jatra or Rato Machindranath Jatra. Each year, the residents of Patan, Lalitpur, celebrate the festival in order to show respect to the rain god. This is one of the oldest and longest festivals held in Patan and is celebrated in April-May.

It is celebrated just before the monsoon season starts so that the city will get plenty of rainfall for good growth of crops. During the procession, the image of Bunga Dyah is placed on a chariot about 65 feet high and pulled in stages through the streets of Patan for a month.

This festival concludes with the Bhoto Jatra, which literally means "vest festival". During the ceremony, a government official holds up the sacred jewel-studded black vest displaying it around the four sides of the chariot so that all the gathered people can have a look at it.

Heads of state of Nepal attend the festival that day which is a public holiday in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.

Adhikari said it would take at least five to six days more to retrieve all the historical items buried under the rubble. The temple of Bhairavnath and Machindranath were razed to the ground by the destructive earthquake.

The 12 yearly festival of Machindranath, which is being marked this year, started on April 19 after the placement of Rato Machindranath deity's idol on a cone-shaped wooden chariot. The chariot procession which started on April 22 has remained on hold following the earthquake. It is not clear when the procession will resume.


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