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AP Photos: Nepal festival season starts with goddess, dance

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Devotees pulled a girl believed to be a living goddess, Kumari, around Nepal’s capital on a wooden chariot as tens of thousands of people lined the streets to get a glimpse and receive a blessing.

President Bidhya Devi Bhadari and other top officials were among those seeking a blessing Friday from the girl, one in a long series who have been worshipped as a living goddess.

Indra Jatra is an eight-day festival celebrated mostly by the Newar community, the native residents of Kathmandu. It is also known as the festival of deities and demons. It especially honors Indra, the Hindu god of rain, to mark the end of the monsoon season.

Indra Jatra begins a festival season that runs until October, during which both Hindus and Buddhists celebrate with family, feasts and merry making.

Families gathered Friday for feasts and at shrines to light incense for the dead, and men and boys in colorful masks and gowns representing Hindu deities danced to traditional music and drums, drawing throngs of spectators to the city’s old streets.

The masked dancers, one of the highlights of the ceremony, can be fearsome, entertaining and awe-inspiring, depending on the performers’ movements.

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