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'All The King's Horses And All The King's Men': The 2004 Red Matsyendranatha Incident In Lalitpur

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Chapter Summary

On Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 9.30 p.m. local time on the second leg of its procession through Lalitpur, Nepal, the ceremonial chariot carrying the so-called ' Red Matsyendranātha ' fell on its side and its crown touched the ground. This necessitated the recovery of the god from the chariot and the interruption of the procession for one entire month due to the complete rebuilding of the vehicle followed by the necessary rituals of atonement and exculpation. This chapter analyses what exactly happened during this year's crash against the background of popular belief, the history and practice of the rite, and how the damage was assessed by the lay folk as well as by the ritual specialists, which measures where recommended and how and for what purpose they were applied. The king of Lalitpur went to Cvabhāra to perform an exculpation rite on the day of the solar eclipse.

Keywords: ceremonial chariot; Lalitpur; Red Matsyendranātha; ritual specialists; solar eclipse



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