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The rains have already come this year. But the god who brings the rains has remained stuck in Pulchowk. In most years, the Rato Machindranath chariot would have already done the rounds of Lalitpur by the seventh month of the Nepali lunar calendar. But this year, although the chariot has been built and the artisans have readied the chariot for the Rato Machindranath festival, the god still remains stuck in stasis. The people of Lalitpur would like to pull the chariot, but the government is worried about large throngs of people congregating in the middle of the Covid crisis. The festival date has been postponed twice already. There is now talk that the chariot will finally trundle through Lalitpur’s streets on the first day of Bhadau.

In this photo feature, I document the tireless work done by Lalitpur’s artisans in getting Machindranath ready to shower this town with blessings–blessings we so desperately need.

Rato Machindranath’s pujaris offer prayers before work begins on the chariot
Relatives of Patan’s Kumari carry her to the various sites the Rato Machindranath chariot will visit along its journey through Lalitpur.
A priest gives the Rato Machindranath deity a symbolic bath, wherein the earlier coat of paint is scraped off before being replaced by a fresh layer.
A Chitrakar artist paints the details on the Rato Machindranath deity, in Machindra Bahal, Lalitpur.
A devotee offers an oil lamp to the Rato Machindranath deity.
Priests carry the Rato Machindranath deity from Machindra Bahal to Pulchowk, where the rath is ready to house the deity.
A member of the Guruji Paltan. During the festival procession, some personnel of the Guruji Paltan carry muskets, which they fire in the air, while others play on their flute the festival’s tunes.
Devotees gather around the Machindranath chariot, which hasn’t budged yet from Pulchowk.