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MACHHENDRANATH. On the Road with the Red God (224)

13:45, Friday 29th June, Cosmo Rodewald

Director: Kesang Tseten (Nepal)

Year: 2005

Run time: 72'

Location/Ethnic group: Nepal/ Newar

Language: In English, Nepali and Newar with English subtitles

Production/Distribution: Kesang Tseten, Teleproduction International


Every 12 years, impassioned devotees pull a 65-feet tall, unwieldy chariot across the Kathmandu Valley, its rider an enigmatic god worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists. It is a month-long journey preceded by abundant ritual and animal sacrifice. The enterprise calls for extreme cooperation and rigorous observance of ritual in the building, sanctification, and pulling of the chariot. But the jatra (festival) is an arena of gritty reality, where participants vie for everything, from a share of ritual meat to status and proximity to the god. The chariot teeters, as does the community, between chaos and order, conflict or solidarity. Thus, every 12 years, the same question echoes in the minds of all involved: will the journey succeed?