Authorities have once again extended the lockdown in Kathmandu Valley by a week until 9 September to contain the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the community. All services are closed except for essentials and crowding is restricted.
Roshan Dhungana of the Lalitpur Guthi Sansthan says they were unaware about the chariot procession. “It shouldn’t have happened during the lockdown, despite the government’s ban but we had no idea.”
On Monday, 30 members of a prayer group that regularly chanted in front of the chariot every morning tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Neither the Guthi Sansthan or local groups were said to be aware about the chariot being pulled today, and it is not clear who authorised it. The devotees appeared to have moved the chariot since the coming month is regarded as inauspicious, and there were angry comments from a range of supporters who said the festival could not be stopped because it was a part of Patan’s intangible cultural heritage.
Indeed, the Machindranath chariot’s circumambulation of Patan, and its travel to and from Bungamati every 12 years is a major part of the city’s cultural calendar.