The Newar city of Bhaktapur is one of the former capitals of the Malla kings in the Kathmandu Valley, and it is known for having preserved a distinct urban culture. The most important festival is known as Bisket, celebrating the New Year on the beginning of the month of Baisakh (in the middle of April). It includes worship of the Astamatrikas (the eight mother goddesses who receive blood offerings) and a chariot procession through urban space, culminating in the competition between the two halves of the city.
The New Year festival is also celebrated in Thimi and in Bode, towns which belonged to the Bhaktapur kingdom, but which have their own traditions. In Bode the festival includes the ‘tongue-boring’ ceremony at the temple of Mahalaksmi Devi.
The Gai Jatra, which is celebrated in all Newar cities at the end of the month of Saun, has particular significance in Bhaktapur. Here it is performed in a spectacular manner with large bamboo constructions representing the cows which assist the souls of the recently deceased on their journey to the afterworld.