The Baraha Festival of Nepal
Baraha Chhetra Temple stands at the confluence of Koka and Sapta Koshi rivers in Nepal. It is one of the four holiest sites in the country for Hindus. Just an hour’s drive from the industrial town of Biratnagar in eastern Nepal, Bahara Chhetra can be reached by local buses that ply that route or by car. The temple can be reached only after a fifteen minute walk after the road ends but it is well worth the trip.
The white temple stands in breathtaking, serene surroundings. It is a Vishnu temple with the deity having a boar’s head.
The Baraha festival is celebrated here every year in January. On the day of the full moon of that month, thousands of Hindu pilgrims congregate here to pay homage to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is considered to be the preserver of the universe, and is one of the Trinity of Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Vishnu is believed to have descended to earth in various forms through the eons.
Legend has it that once a demon inhabited this area and caused untold hardship to the local villagers, holy men, and pilgrims. Hearing of this, Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and killed the demon in battle. The annual Baraha festival commemorates the victory. The devout come to this shikara style temple to pray to Lord Vishnu to protect them from evil at all times.
A flight of stairs from the temple leads to the river below. During the festival the banks are crowded with devotees who take a dip in the holy river. A big metal stone like structure is seen in the premises of the temple of Baraha Chhetra. Anyone who can lift this stone without dropping it or with ease is believed to be pure and free from any sin. Another belief is that if five or seven people are able to lift the stone together using just their little finger and forefinger, they too have proved that they have not committed any sins.
There are innumerable little shops just outside the Baraha Chhetra temple that sell an assortment of things. The prices here are very cheap compared to the shops in Kathmandu.