Crowds gather for Nepal's chariot festival

STORY: The annual two-month chariot festival for Rato Machhindranath, revered as the god of rain, aims to ward off evil, bring a good harvest, and give thanks to the god for provisions.

An idol of Rato Machhindranath is mounted on a chariot, which carries a 32-foot tower festooned with fir twigs, and has large wheels that groan as devotees haul it through the streets.

The centrepiece of the ritual came with the display of a jewelled vest said to have been given to a farmer by a serpent king more than 1,000 years ago.

Lost by the farmer and claimed by a demon, legend has it that the vest has since been held by Rato Machhindranath for its rightful owner to claim in the presence of the king, or president.

Hundreds of followers through numerous routes pull the chariot each year on the day of the parade, as onlookers and followers mob the streets to join the procession.

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