The Rato Machhindranath Rath Jatra is the only festival that lasts for months. Dedicated to the Rain God Machhindranath, this festival takes place in Patan and is supposed to bring rain to the Kathmandu Valley.
The farmers of Kathmandu Valley wait for the monsoon rain to plant their rice crop. A large chariot is made of wood and tied with vines and pulled through the streets of Patan coming to rest at various traditional spots where crowds of devotees arrive to pay homage and lay offerings.
The chariot procession is accompanied by Newar musicians playing traditional folk instruments. This is a Newari festival and the chariot is pulled by Newar youth who follow instructions from a senior who rides on the chariot.
The idol of the red painted Rato Machhindranath deity first goes through a ritual bath and a make-over with fresh paint. When the initial rites are over, the idol is placed on the chariot. As Lord Machhindranath views his devotees from a high seat of his chariot, he receives rice and vermilion powder as offer. The four wheels of the chariot represent the powerful Bhairab the fiercefull incarnation of Shiva,
The chariot is several stories high and with no nuts and bolts to hold it together, it is normally tilting to one side. The collapsing of this chariot is seen as portentous.
After several months of moving through major parts of Patan, it finally comes to rest in Jawalakhel, the more modern section of the city, where a huge crowd gathers to watch the display of an ancient bejeweled vest on Bhoto Jatra. This event is attended by the head of state as well as the Living Goddess Kumari of Patan.