Dhading’s centuries-old temple where women are still barred

Published On: June 21, 2019 07:49 AM NPT By: Sarita Shrestha

DHADING, June 21: Though almost all Hindu temples in Nepal allow the entrance of all devotees regardless of their age or gender, there is a temple in Dhading where women are barred from entering.

Since decades, only male devotees have been worshiping at the Dholamandali Temple located at Dhola of Jwalamukhi Rural Municipality-4 in Dhading district. Women cannot even imagine going inside the temple and offering prayers there when they are not allowed to touch anything even outside the temple. They cannot even consume the ~IPrasad ~I(food presented as religious offering).

The locals believe that if a female enters the temple due to lack of awareness, she will be apparently chased by wild animals, will bring bad luck and may face even death. People from far-flung villages visit this temple to sacrifice goats to please the gods. This temple opens only once a week. i.e on Tuesdays. 

According to Binod Rijal, a local, after sacrificing the goats, the devotees can cook and consume the Prasad (goat meat) anywhere in Dhola village but cannot take it back to their homes. “The temple lies under a tree,” said Rijal, adding, “A 12-year-old boy from the Magar community is the priest there.”

This temple is eight kilometers from the district headquarters of Dhading. There are large bells inside the temple but no statues. Every Tuesday, hundreds of male devotees visit this temple to worship the gods and sacrifice goats to make the gods happy. They believe that conducting prayers at this temple will solve their problems and purge them from their sins.

Reportedly, this temple has a history of more than three centuries. According to the elderly people in the locality, this temple was established at the time of Dholaki Mandali Mai (a goddess) at around 1750 B.S. If some myths are to be believed, the tree hovering over the temple is Dhoalki Mandali Mai herself.

Women can’t enter the temple but they can organize fairs and sell their products outside  the temple on Tuesdays. “People are only allowed to sacrifice goats (billy goats forbidden) but we women are not allowed to even have the Prasad,” said local Sangita Duwadi, adding, “No female has stepped inside the temple so far nor has she consumed the prasad.”

In the past, Dalits were prohibited from entering the temple. However, the tradition was abolished following a protest by the Dalit people. Now, the male members of the Dalit community can also offer prayers at the temple. Locals say, barring females from entering the temple even in this 21st century is a bad example and an insult to women

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