The film captures the complex human elements behind the 12 year chariot festival of the deity Rato Macchendranath of the Kathmandu Valley, one of Asia’s greatest ancient religious festivals. Instead of exotic, idealised depictions of tradition, this film takes us into an arena of gritty realuty, where conflict or solidarity can prevail. Every 12 years, impassioned devotees pull a 65-feet tall unwieldy chariot in the Kathmandu Valley, its rider an enigmatic god worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists, on 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: will the journey succeed?
KESANG TSETEN LAMA