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On the Road with the Red God: Macchendranath – 19 October 2021

A film by Kesang Tseten – 75min

Every twelve years, impassioned devotees pull an unwieldy twenty-metre tall chariot through the Kathmandu Valley, on a journey of several months preceded by abundant ritual and animal sacrifice. The occupant of the chariot is an enigmatic god worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists alike. The enterprise calls for extreme cooperation and rigorous observance of ritual in the building, sanctification and pulling of the rath, the chariot.  But the jatra, the festival, is an arena of gritty reality, where conflict or solidarity can prevail. So every twelve  years,  the same question arises:  will the journey succeed? The figure of Kapil Muni is the servant of a god, Rato Machhendranath, who was stolen, when he was an infant, from a demoness to save the Kathmandu Valley from a drought. In an intriguing inversion, Kapil performs rituals to ward off the demoness who is trying to retrieve her son, while the son himself yearns to be reunited with the mother.

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