Nepal’s Paya Jatra: A Unique Vijay Dashami Celebration With Swords On The Streets

by Vaishalee Kalvankar
Nepal’s Paya Jatra: A Unique Vijay Dashami Celebration With Swords On The Streets

Vijay Dashami, or Dussehra, is the celebration that marks the triumph of good over evil. The reason behind this celebration is Ravana being killed by Lord Ram. Different parts of the world celebrate this festival in different ways. In Nepal, this celebration is known as Paya Jatra. The etymology of the festival’s name, Paya Jatra, is still up for question among historians, but among Newars who attend it.  

Nepal’s Paya Jatra: A Unique Vijay Dashami Celebration 


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On the day of Bijaya Dashami, several groups leave their various parts of the Kathmandu Valley for the Khadga or Paya Jatra, when they dress up as warrior deities and carry khadgas, the distinctive swords of the deities. 

As they approach the streets, their bodies tremble, adding credence to the widespread notion that the deities themselves enter the people wielding the swords. Huge crowds, carrying their revered khadgas in their hands, follow them as they form their individual processions.

The name must have sprung from two Newari words: “ya,” which denotes a celebration or procession, and “Pa,” which refers to conventional military weapons like axes and swords. (As per Local Guides Connect)

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A Triumph Procession

The Newars worship their Ishta Devata, the beloved deity known as Aagam in their language, during the Dashain celebrations. The only people who see the Aagam god are their family members and other Guthis (guild members), as they are revered as extremely sacred. Among other things, one of the Newars’ Dashain ceremonies involves worshiping Aagam.

The unique sword known as a “khadga,” which is resting next to the Aagam god, is only displayed in public by the various villages during the Paya or Khadga Jatra.

The Paya is considered a triumph procession honoring the victory of good over evil, based on the myth of Goddess Durga defeating the monster Mahishasura. Since it is believed that this is the day the gods were able to vanquish evil, it is performed on Bijaya Dashami. 

It is widely acknowledged by cultural scholars that Kathmandu was a Tantric center in the Middle Ages. Another representation of Tantric warrior deities is the Khadga. (As per Local Guides Connect)

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Meaning Varies Throughout The Community


It is stated that a khadga-like path may be traced through the temples of the Asta Matrikas, the eight manifestations of Goddess Durga that are located in Kathmandu City.

While the meaning of the Payas or Khadga Jatras varies throughout Newar communities, they are unquestionably a joyous parade. With crops maturing in the fields, the celebration of Dashain is believed to mark the end of the year in terms of agricultural significance.

People sacrifice goats, buffaloes, chickens, and other animals in honor of goddess Durga on the eighth day of the celebration. Following the sacrifice that was accepted as God’s gift, a large amount of flesh is consumed. 

On Vijayadashami, the tenth day of Dashain, seniors place Tika and Jamara on the foreheads of younger family members. On the first day of the celebration, jamara is sown, and it grows into a greenish-yellow flower that is between 10 and 20 cm long and represents triumph.  (As per Local Guides Connect)

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Cover Image Courtesy:@bikashyakipa/Instagram