September sees the end of the monsoon season, warm temperatures and lush green everywhere.It also sees the Indra Jatra festival (literally, procession of the Lord of the Rain), which combines homage to Indra with the annual appearance of Kathmandu's living goddess.
Indra is one of the chief deities of the Hindu religion, the god of rain and thunderstorms, who wields a lightning rod and rides a white elephant called Airavata.
Kathmandu's living goddess is a young girl chosen from the Kathmandu valley, who lives in the Kumari Bahal temple on Durbar Square. The selection process is rigorous: the child, aged between 2 and 4 years old, can never have had an injury that has drawn blood, and must pass the '32 perfections test' (which assesses things such as the child's horoscope, eye colour and teeth shape).
The festival lasts eight days, with most events starting or ending at the Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu. It is here that a ceremonial pole (the Linga) is erected, in a ceremony in which the deity Akash Bhairava is represented by a massive mask.