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Nepalese Culture, Society and Tourism
Purnachandi Bhuja Jatra of Patan: A Protection from Lightening

one of the major cities of Kathmandu valley is rich in culture. The cultures of Patan are unique and have quite distinctive features . Among the various jatras of Patan, Purnachandi Bhuja (rice) Jatra (festival) is regarded to be an unique and interesting Jatra of the Kathmandu Valley. The local Newar people call it gongamal jatra. Historian Mr. W. Kirkpartick has written, "as many temples as many houses an many gods as many people ".Some scholars say that there are more festivals than the days in a calendar of a year.

There are temples of Ten Mahabidhya (the goddess representing the ten transcendental knowledge) in Patan. People have different beliefs about the origin of Ten Mahabidhya . A wonderful and interesting episode on the origin of Ten Mahabidhya can be found in Mahakal Samhita1 . According to it, Daksha Prajapati did not invite lord Shiva, his son-in-law and Sati (daughter of Daksha Prajapati)when he organised a yagya(ritual ceremony). But Sati came to know about the yagya and requested Shiva to attend Daksha's yagya ceremony .But Lord Shiva rejected her request. Sati tried her best to convince Shiva but all went in vein. She even wasn't allowed to go alone. As Sati wasn't permitted to go to the yagya, she became very furious and then appeared Ten Mahabidhya in the forms of Kali, Tara, Shodashi, Bhuwaneswari, Bharavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumawati, Bagala, Matangi and Kamala on all ten directions. When Lord Shiva saw such forms of Sati, he requested her to interpret its mystery. Sati explained and said, "Allow me to go to the yagya so that I will attend it, otherwise I will destroy the yagya." At last, Shiva allowed her to go to the yagya2 .

According to trantic literature, Sidhdhabidhya (Tripura, Bhairavi, Matangi and Kamala) is the most powerful Goddess and are capable to fulfil the wish of the devotees . If a devotee with full confidents offers worships to Sidhdhbidhyas, there is no question that his desire will not be fulfilled. Thus, These days crowd of devotees thronge at Bagalamukhi. Kamala and Siddhilaxmi are the same. Siddhilaxmi is thought to be one of the Shodasha Laxmies (sixteen Laxmies). According to the residents of Purnachanditole, the Goddess is mighty and can fulfil the wishes of the devotees (disciples).

There is an episode in the eighth part (Skanda) of the eighth chapter of the Shreemat Bhagwat about the origin of Goddess Kamala. According to it, Kamala appeared as a result of the sea churning which was possible due to the joint efforts of Lords and devils. Later, Lord Vishnu adopted Her. Kamala helps Lord Vishnu in looking after the Universe .She is the protector of hole Universe. God , King and people become happy because of her love. Kamala is one of the ten Mahabidhya who is worshipped in the temple of Purnachandi.

The methods of worshipping and the forms of ten Mahabidhya are as follows:

Goddess Kali: stands on a corpse toothy Goddess Kali seems to be frightful and delighted. Her four hands have skull, Varad Mudra (hand conferring grace or boon), sword, and Abhay Mudra (Protection Gesture), and on Her neck She has a garland of heads of those She killed. Her tongue is red. I sincerely bow towards Her, the powerful Goddess Shivarup Mahakali3.

Devi Tara: putting a foot ahead, Goddess Tara also stands on corpse. She makes fearful yell and has padma (lotus), sword, skull and sickle. Unique in form, she is short and has blue and yellow jata (The matted and long hair of an ascetic) on which She also keeps snakes. I bow towards the Goddess Ugratara who spoils all the evils of the world 4.

Devi Shodashi: her face is yellow like the rising sun. She has four hands and three eyes. On Her hands She has bow, hook, noose of ropes and arrow. I always worship her5.

Goddess Bhuwaniswari: with the bright crown on the head, happy face, breasts-high, Abhaya Mudra, Varada Mudra. Bhuwaniswari has three eyes. She holds hook and noose of ropes in Her hand. I bow to Her6 .

Goddess Tripurbhairawi: like a midday sun, she is decorated with light rays, garlanded with the heads of her enemies and has blood marks on her mouth. She has large breasts, hooks, erudition, Varad Mudra, Abhaya Mudra, three eyes and a smiling face. She is decorated with a bright crown. I offer Her worship7 .

Goddess Chinnamasta: with a foot ahead, She has uncovered a weapons on Her hands. She offers Her own blood on Her head with Her left hand with a chaplet of snakes on Her head and garland on Her breast She stands confidently on the couple who is enjoying sex. I worship the three-eyed, beautiful like japapuspa ( a kind of flower) Goddess Chinnamasta time and again8 .

Goddess Dhumawati: she is tall, ugly and unstable and has cruel habit. She is also abnormal. She wears dirty clothes and has spread long jatas (hair). Barren, widow and toothless Dhumawati rides a chariot that has a crow-marked banner. She has loose and long breasts and trembling hands. She carries a mattock and has cruel eyes and long nose. One hand in Varad Mudra (gesture of charity), She suffers from hunger and thirst. Her appearance is frightening and She likes quarrel. I worship Her9 .

Goddess Bagalamukhi: she tortures enemies by pulling their tongues with Her hand and in the right hand She carries gada (mace) to destroy the enemies. I continuously worship Goddess Bagalamukhi decorated in yellow attire10 .

Goddess Matangi: dark , three-eyed Matangi wears moonlike crown and sits on throne made of expensive pearls. She holds sword, pasa(noose of ropes), mace, hook, khetaka (a shield it may be circular or rectangular) with her four hands. She enjoys the music produced from a diamond coated flute and I offer my worship to this virgin Goddess Matangi11.

Goddess Kamala: Kamala has a golden face and holds two lotuses on two hands. Her two hands are in different Mudras (gesture) Abhaya Mudra (protection) and Varada Mudra (conferring boon or grace). She wears a bright crown. Having beautifully curved buttock, She sits on lotus. Snow-like four white elephants with their trunks pour Amrit (delicious liquid) through kalas (decorated copper water-pot) on Kamala. I respect and salute Her12 .

This Goddess Kamala is thought to be Siddhi Laxmi among the sixteen Laxmies and devotees organise Bhuja Jatra and worshipping ceremonies here every year.

Jatra (Festival)

According to a myth, this place in the ancient time was at the confluence of the Bagmati and the Nakhkhu river. Then, Purnananda Swami, a tantrik from Kamrukamksha had come there. One day, Goddess Dakshinkali, in a dream told him to serve her. Then according to the dream , he went to the Bagmati confluence to (have an audience) see the Goddess Siddhi Laxmi. The area then was covered by water where suddenly appeared a ball of water The Tantrik knew that the water ball was the Goddess and offered worship to Her. Later a temple was formed and it was named after the Swami as Purnachandi.

Purnachandi jatra is celebrated after Indra Jatra in September. According to Krishna Bhakta Sharma, a local resident, the jatra is very old and it was once, during the rein of Rana Bahadur Shah cancelled. (In 1862 B.S. when King Rana Bahadur Shah's spouse Kantimati died, the king snatched away all the properties of temples and guthis. This incident is known as Bashathiharan in the Nepalese history. And the Purnachandi jatra was stopped due to the lack of sources of income.) Later when someone appealed that the king should not grab the temple's properties the jatra again began during the rein of King Surendra.

In the Purnachandi Bhuja jatra, 12 heaps of rice are made. Each heap contains a muri (160lbs) of rice and all the other products of the ground. 84 sorts of dishes are prepared for this jatra. Simply, the heap of rice (bhuja) seems like a stupa or a temple. The top of the each heap contains a pinnacle. In this bhuja all kinds of vegetables like soybean, beans, pumpkin, carrot, potato, pea, ginger, eggs, fish and different meat items of buff and mutton are mixed in the heap. In fact, all these foods have tantric methods and meanings. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are prepared during this time. Two kinds of vegetarian dishes are brought from the priest's house. Maybe it has been a tradition as the priests of this Purnachandi temple are non-vegetarian Rajopadhya.

People come along with bands and put the dishes here. Guthiyars (occupier of guthi land), Rajopadhya and Amatya also bring such foods.
"Though, in the past the temple had a lot of lands, they have disappeared with the introduction of the Land Reform Law in the country," say the local people. Yet the temple possesses some land from where the rice needed for the Bhuja jatra is brought. They even bring food from Khokana.

Under the kalas (decorated copper water-pot) a big bread which the Newar people called malmari is kept. After offering a rooster to it, the malmari is worshipped according to the tantric methods. Similarly, such worshipping is organised at Thasimal in Patan. There are such places in four corners of Patan.

The main objective of such offering is to protect Patan from lightning. Interestingly, there is no evidence of lightning in the area. The priest believes and claims that this is all because of the offerings.

This year (1998) the worshipping ceremony began on the 7th September and ended the next day at 4 PM. After the worshipping ceremony is over, different people take the food to different directions. One such food is offered to Mahadeva located just south of the temple, two bhujas inside the temple, one to Gabhal (near Tindhoka) and one to Nriteswor (dancing God). Similarly each food is taken to, Mahapal, Bhujimatol and for Ganesh, Kushale (musicians) and Khadgi. Thus all 12 bhujas are taken to the concerned places.

The Purnachandi temple is also regarded to be the family god (kuldeuta) of Machchindranath. Every year goods for worshipping are sent to the temple from Machchindranath. When the chariot of Machchindranath arrives at Iti near Lagankhel, four astrologers select the appropriate time to pull the chariot sitting on Manimandap in Mangal Bazzar. Then the worship and the Homa (burnt offering) at Purnachandi temple begin on the same day.

Both Hindus and Bhuddhists visit the temple to offer worshipping which signifies the religious endurance among the Nepalese people. In the early days this temple was small. Later, it was enlarged. During the days of the jatra, the main God which is kept in the inner part of the temple is brought out for jatra. When the jatra is over, the eldest person (thakali) of the family which is to keep the God, takes it to his home. The local people keep the God at their homes for a year turn by turn. Next year in the same way the God is taken to the jatra.

Devotees also offer worshipping to Martanda Bhairav, Ganesh and Kumari which are in the inner part of the temple. The tympanum of the temple has the picture of Ganesh, Bhairava, Siddhilaxami and Narasingha. Certainly, Purnachandi Bhuja jatra is an interesting and strange jatra of the Kathmandu valley.

Temple Architecture:

The temple is built in pagoda style. The devastating earthquake of 1934 destroyed the top stair of the temple. It was then reconstructed with the help of devotees. Again in 1972 A.D. late king Mahedra reconstructed the tiled-roofed temple converting into a copper-roofed temple. The Maskey family of Sulma tole (area) provided help to replace the roof.

The Toran (tympanum) of the main gate, is marked with the Mahishasur Mardini. The images of Kumar, Maheshwari, Chamunda, Ganesh, are in a dancing gesture on the northern struts in the first stair of the temple. These images are in different colours. Images of Bhairab, Bhairabi, Ganesh, Kumar, Narsingha, Shakti are kept above the tympanum on temple's main gate. The hanging embossed metal are gold gilded with the mark of Goddess. The western tympanum is of wood on which the pictures of Ganesh, Kumar, Bhairab and Shakti are marked. According to inscription found here the middle tympanum the temple was reconstructed in 1972 A.D. On the middle tympanum the image of Mahishasur Mardini (Purnachandi) is kept. Like in the struts of the first stair, images of Kumar, Maheshwari, Chandi and Ganesh are kept on the struts of second floor. On the stories of the top floor images of Maheshwari and Chandi are kept. These are images of Kalash (water pot) down side of tympanum.

The inscriptions around tell that the temple was reconstructed twice in 1858 A.D. and 1972 A.D. There is one new hanging embossed metal was put by Shrestha family of Patan in 1995. Near the gate of the temple their is a tall square size pillar. A large bell with inscription is hung on a large stand of stone in the eastern side of the temple. Devotees including Khadga Man Singh Rajbhandari provided metal to construct the bell. On the bell the names of late Khadga Man Singh and other donors are also inscribed. On the wooden pillar kept around the temple, the small oil-lamps (Diyo) are put. On the west of the temples idols of a couple of devotees are kept with an inscription there. On the inscription there is a date 1684 A.D. is mentioned. Some people called this couple statue are of Purnananda Swami and his wife. On the eastern wall of the temple there is an inscription that was kept after the repair of the temple. On the southern pillar the dates 1733, 1858, 1859 A.D. are marked. Siddhilaxmi is kept as the main sanctum in side the temple and surrounded by Ganesh, Kumar, Baishnabi, Bhirabi, Kumari, Mankamana. In the left chamber of the main Goddess there is the image of Bhairab. Around the image of Bhairav there are icons of Bhimsen, Ganesh, and other deities. In tympanum Bhairab, Kumar and Ganesh were founded.

On the right of the temple there is a two storied pati (public rest house) with the images of Hanuman, Kumari and Nateshwor (Dancing God) on it. Still the devotees, if they organised and feast in the shelter should keep three plates of fod for their deities. Also it is believed that the small children who are yet to be feed rice, must not be taken to the pati. The constructors of the pati was Subba Raghubir Amatya, forefather of Gauribhakta Amatya. Still Amatya family carries out the repair work of the pati. When the Amatya family organised Guthi Bhoj (traditional feast) the boys without having holy thread (initiation) on, and girls who are yet to enter into puberty are fed in morning time only. But the Brahmins and other Guthiyars should be fed late in the night.

There is another Pati on the right of the temple. The Rajbhandari family constructed the Pati but it was damaged in the 1934 earthquake.

It is an accepted practice that no devotees offer animal sacrifice to the Goddess Siddhilaxmi directly. But they can offer to the Bhairab. They sacrifice un castrated he goat, duck and male buffalo. But other animals can sacrifice to only Bhairab located under the Pati just west to the temple.

There is a special relationship of the Goddess Siddhilami with Agnimath of Lalitpur Thabu. Agnimath have special worship in every first day of fortnight. After finishing the worship of Agnimath people visit Siddhilami temple and worship there. Siddhilaxmi is believed to be the main Goddess (Kul Devata) of Machhindranath temple. Still there is a tradition to offer Dewali Puja to Siddhilaxmi from Machhindranath when its chariot goes ahead to Jawalakhel from Ponde tole.

There is a large pound on the north of the temple. It is believed that in the past the Nakhu river was here when Swami Pushananda and Bishwanath used to bathe every day. And the pound is the remaining part of the Nakhu river. There is also a small Ghat (burial or cremation place).

Ronald M. Bernier mention about the temple and tank in his book The templw of Nepal this free-standing three-storey Hindu temple is not remarkable in its structure or decoration, but rather in its setting near the edge of a very large water tank in a by-way of Patan. We cannot say how important the presence of the tank was to the placement of the temple and the nearness of water may indeed by generally less essential in Nepal than in India, but if we are considering Nepalese temples so designed as to take absolute advantage of water for both religious and practical use, Purna Chandi is a prime example. This tank is one of Patan's largest, and the temple faces it as well as a small intervening rest house place partly in the tank itself13 .

It is true that what W. Kirkpatrick, mentions there are as many temples as many the houses, as many Gods as many people. There are many temples in the town which are not properly studied, and this is one of them. But this temple has lot of information about Buddhism and Hinduism. This is a unique temple. If a devotee full confident offer worships in this temple, there is no question this his/her desire will not be fulfilled.

1. Shree Yaspalji, Dash Mahabidhya, pg. no. 3.
2. Ibid, pg. no. 11.
3. Rajdev Nandan Singh, Saktapramod, pg. no. 3.
4. Ibid, pg. no. 119.
5. Ibid, pg. no. 153.
6. Ibid, pg. no. 193.
7. Ibid, pg. no. 249.
8. Ibid, pg. no. 221.
9. Ibid, pg. no. 227.
10. Ibid, pg. no. 303.
11. Ibid, pg. no. 331.
12. Ibid, pg. no. 353.
13. Ronald M. Bernier, The Temples of Nepal, pg. no. 82.

Bernier, Ronald M. (1978). The Temples of Nepal, New Delhi: S. Chanda and Co. Ltd.

Ji, Shree Yaspal. Dash Mahavidhya. India: Pustak Sansar, Jambu.

Singh, Rajdev Nandan. (1982). Shaktapramod. Bombay: Banketeswor Press

  Untitled Document

Nepalese Culture, Society and Tourism
By: Diwas Dhakal

This book is a collection
of essays devoted to the
Nepalese Culture,Society and Tourism. A special
stress on Natural and
cultural Heritage of Nepal has been very carefully emphasised.
Diwas Dhakal, 2000 ISBN 99933-570-0-6,
First Edition 2000
Published by:
Mukta Dhakl
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Purnachandi Bhuja Jatra of Patan: A Protection from Lightening

Vajrayan Buddhism and Nepal

The Accumulate Stupa of Ramagrama

The Stupa of Boudhnath: A World Heritage Site

Pagoda Style Architecture and Nepal

Development of Architecture in Nepal

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