The longest chariot festival in Nepal, the Rato Machindranath Chariot Festival earlier postponed due to the lockdown imposed to stem the Coronavirus pandemic, began on Saturday, as per local media.
According to the organizing committee, July 25 is chosen as the holy day for the inauguration of the festival by ‘chariot ride’ which will be followed by a chariot pulling on the same day, the Kathmandu Post reported.
The festival will be celebrated during the day and the carriage will be taken to various parts of the valley, including Pulchowk, Gabahal, Mangalbazaar, Sundhara, Balkumari, Lagankhel, Jawalkhel and Bungmati, to name a few.
Bhoto Jatra is also part of the festival, which has been observed with great enthusiasm. The festival, generally, starts before the beginning of the monsoon season and is meant to appease the rain and grain God Rato Machindranath.
The lockdown imposed to curb the Coronavirus pandemic has affected the natural schedule of the festival.
The construction work of the chariot stalled from April 10 has resumed from June 24 and the preparation work is nearly complete for the Jatra.
 According to Rakshan Rajopadhyaya, a priest of Patan Taleju temple and member of Panchanga Nirnayak Samiti, the apt time for the inauguration of ‘chariot-riding’ ceremony would be 12.10 to 12.25 PM on Saturday, July 25.
The Chariot pulling will also be initiated from the same day. The Government of Nepal earlier this week announced a lift in nationwide lockdown with some restrictions in place. As the nation is reporting COVID-19 cases in an average of 100 on a daily basis, the tally of fatalities has also been on a rise.
 Nepal till date has confirmed 45 fatalities due to the Covid-19 infection with confirmed cases standing at 18,483 out of which 13,053 has been discharged after recovery. On Saturday alone 109 cases of SARS-CoV-2 virus were confirmed with 3 cases recorded inside Kathmandu Valley, the health ministry announced.
(In addition with ANI)

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