Sangita Shrestha

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Published On: January 14, 2019 07:38 PM NPT By: Sangita Shrestha

Seto Machhindranath Snan: The annual public bathing ritual of White Machhindranath

Seto Machhindranath Snan: The annual public bathing ritual of White Machhindranath

Photos:Shahin Sunuwar Rasaili/Republica

Every year a bathing ritual of Seto Machhindranath takes place at Kanak Chaitya Mahavihara or Janabahal at Indrachowk. The bathing ceremony happens on Pousha Sukla Asthami that falls on Monday this year.

The other names for Seto Machhindranath are Janabahaa Dyo, Aryaavalokitesor and Karunamaya Lokesor. This god is revered widely not only by Buddhists but also by Hindus and Vaishnavas. Locals believe that Seto Machhindranath bestows longevity, removes the cause of sterility in women and is the god of compassion who has the capacity of relieving all beings from any kinds of suffering.

The ceremony is organized by caretaker priest clan of Janabahaa Dyo named Sangha. This is followed by a week-long repainting of the idol carried out by designated priests maintaining strict ritual discipline till Purnima.

The ritual starts only after the living Goddess of Nepal arrives at the premise who is believed to be the main spectator of the ritual. As the Goddess Kumari arrives, the crowd’s level of excitement raises high. The bathing ceremony takes place on a concrete stage inside the courtyard. This stage is specially made for the bathing ritual of Janabaa Dyo which is beautifully decorated with garland of flower and lights on this day. Five priests who are dressed in white and wearing few traditional ornaments along with colorful aprons begins the ritual. As the part of the ritual, the main priest starts a dance accompanied by music with a ritual done for taking off the god’s clothes. Then the god is poured by cold water three times and an end, God is showered by warm water.

Along with Janabaa Dyo, there are other two idols on the left and right hand of Janabaa Dyo. They are the idols of Arya Tara — green and white — believed to be incarnated from the tears of Janabaa Dyo. And it is believed that a child becomes calmer if the cloth pieces worn by Arya Taras is worn by a nagging and weeping child. These idols of Arya Taras are revealed only for four days after the bathing ceremony. On other days these idols are always covered by the clothes of Janabaa Dyo.

Moreover, a chariot pulling festival of Seto Machhindranath is held three months later after the bathing ritual.

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