Devotees in Nepal begin New Year celebrations amid COVID-19 spike

Tens of thousands of devotees gathered in Bhaktapur city in Nepal on Sunday to celebrate the arrival of New Year with chariot festival despite the coronavirus pandemic. Devotees flocked to the Taumadhi Square to take part in the "Biska Jatra" fair , where idol of Lord Bhairab was carried to the chariot and devotees were indulged in a tug of war. Devotees were seen flouting social distancing norms at the festival. The three-storey chariot made of wood in the pagoda style is pushed and pulled around the settlements with the statues of Bhairavnath and Betal as a part of this festival. This festival which has cultural and historical importance is celebrated for nine days and eight nights. Biska Jatra - one of the popular festivals of Kathmandu Valley is celebrated at the start of the new year on the Bikram Sambat calendar. It starts with the ascension of Lord Bhairab onto a chariot built in front of Nyatapola Temple, the tallest temple in Nepal.