Traditionally, on the second day of the Gaijatra festival in Nepal, mataya - literally the 'festival of lights' - is celebrated in Lalitpur. On this day devotees go around the city worshipping the images of the Buddha and the stupas, and among the offerings made are wax-flowers, symbolic of the leaves of the bodh tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. A number of wax flowers are attached to bamboo sticks and are then stuck into pulpy fruit. The fruit is pierced with a big wooden handle to make it easy to carry around in the mataya procession.
However, wax flowers are now a rare sight even at the mataya festival. The making of wax flowers was a specialised task entrusted to the thakarmis (metal casters) of Lalitpur. At the mataya procession, increasingly, one sees lit wax candles on silver stands being carried around.
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