Bhaktapur Bungadyah Chariot Festival jacket of Karkotak Karkotak

Nepal: A Land of Many Festivals.

Nepal is an old historical country and filled with folk tales. Nepal is defined as the place in which the Lord Buddha was born in two thousand five hundred years ago. Not only is there a long history, but also there are many interesting folk tales in this holy place. Relating to these interesting folk tales, there are many different festivals in Nepal. Therefore, Nepal has become a land of many festivals. As a person who is interested in Nepali folk tales, I would like to share one of these stories with you and hope you will enjoy these interesting festivals when you are visiting this holy place.

There is a magic jacket of Karkotak, the king of serpent, at Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is the oldest city of three old cities in Nepal. Once upon a time, there was an old farmer, who was famous for curing sore eyes. One day, Karkotak took a human form as a young Brahmin, a highest class in Hindu system. He asked the old farmer to come with him, because his wife had very sore eyes and nothing could cure her. The old farmer followed the young Brahmin and went to the side of Taudaha Lake, where Karkotak lived.  Karkotak showed his original form to the old farmer and asked the farmer to have faith in him that Karkotak means no harm to the farmer; at that moment, a splash of water appeared in the lake. When the farmer blinked his eyes, he found himself in front of a splendid mansion at the next moment. After the Karkotak offered the dainty meal to the farmer, he took the farmer to see his wife, who was suffering from sore eyes.

The old farmer prayed to Bhaisajya Tathagata, the Medicine Buddha, and made a pill by rubbing his ear. He put the pill in water and prayed. He put this liquid to the eyes of the Karkotak’s wife three times a day. On the fifth day, her eyes became clear and the cure was very successful. Karkotak gave his jacket, which the old farmer asked as a return for treating his wife. After the old farmer got the jacket, he found himself standing with the young Brahmin, who is Karkotak, at the lake side. The old farmer followed the young Brahmin back to the place where they met. Before the young Brahmin, Karkotak, left the old farmer, Karkotak told the old farmer not to talk about the jacket nor show it to others. The old farmer had to be careful because the jacket was very valuable.

On the next day, the old farmer put on the jacket when he went to the field. A spirit saw the jacket and tried to steal it from the old farmer. When the sun became hot noon, the old farmer put the jacket aside his field. It was a good chance for the spirit to steal the jacket. The spirit stole the jacket. The farmer saw it but could not catch the spirit successfully. The farmer was very heart broken from losing his jacket.
The old farmer went to Jawalakhel with his broken heart on the third day of the Bungadyah Chariot Festival, one of the oldest festivals in Nepal. Karkotak took a human form and attended this festival in the crowd. The spirit, who stole the jacket, was also there for stealing the food that people brought.  The farmer found the spirit, and people crowded around the spirit at once. The spirit said he did not steal the jacket but he found it in the field. He began to physically abuse the old farmer. Karkotak got into the crowd at once and helped the farmer to fight back.

At the end, the spirit was defeated by Karkotak and told the truth. The spirit stole the jacket when the farmer put it on the ground. Karkotak showed his true form for a brief moment and changed back to a human form. Karkotak ordered the spirit to give the jacket back to the farmer, because the jacket was the gift, which he gave to the farmer. The spirit said he would not give the jacket back to the farmer because of the farmer’s fault of being careless. However, the spirit would not keep it. It would be offered to Karunamaya to whom people pray on the Bungadyah Chariot Festival.

After both the farmer and Karkotak agreed, Karkotak told all the people that the jacket from the world of the Nagalok, serpent, would be shown three times in the four directions during this festival. The first time is for the benefit of the gods, men, and Naga. The second time is for the benefit of the venerable teacher, Bandhudatta; the great King, Narendradeva and the farmer, Rathchakra, as well as for Karkotak. The third time is for the benefit of the spirit, the farmer, and the Vajracharya as well as the people assembled here and the yaksas. Karkotak disappeared from sight after making this announcement. Since then, the jacket is shown at Bungadyah Chariot Festival to this day.

~Lobsang from UK