Maitidevi Bhagwati Temple is located between Dilli Bazaar and Gyaneshwar. This temple has been worshipped and taken care of by the Vajracharyas of the Newar community for generations. They are known as the caretaker and guardian of the temple as well as the priest of this temple. The temple is believed to have been established in 685 BCE during the reign of Amshuverma. For years, morning and evening worship and hymns have been performed in the temple. The locals and priests have taken charge of the worship and other cultural activities here.
Especially on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, devotees flock here. Devotees believe that what they desire will be fulfilled when they ask the Maitidevi goddess. Five to six hundred visitors worship at the temple, which is spread over an area of about five ropanis, every morning and evening. Similarly, a special fair is held here every year on the day of the Dog festival in Tihar, on the 9th day of Dashain and in Chaite Dashain. During Dashain, this temple is decorated with many lights and the premises are made very beautiful and pleasant.
Worship is done by offering coconut, laddu and other worship materials. Animal sacrifices are being offered in the temple on Navratri of Dashain. Devotees believe that worshiping in this temple brings joy to the mind and fulfills the desires of the heart. Priests who perform daily worship receive a monthly salary of Rs. 500 and worship expenses of Rs. 2,200. It is said that around Rs. 2,00,000 in average is collected from this temple every month.
History of Maitidevi Temple
Even though this temple was established in the reign of Amshuverma, the present temple of Maiti Devi was built only in 1711 BS by Chaturdeshi Seva Khalak. It is 4.95 meters long, 4.95 meters wide and 7.00 meters high. The wall thickness of this temple is 0.45 cm. Dachi Appa (brick) is used in it while surki-lime, brick dust and a small percentage of cement is used in building this temple. The land area of this temple is 8 ropanis, 9 annas and 3 dams.
In BS 1929, Shri Teen Bhim Shamsher started the practice of worshiping at Maitidevi Temple. In BS 1949, he erected a silver pylon inside the temple and built a sattal (dharamsala). It was found to have been renovated in 2036 BS. Similarly, Chandra Samsher had arranged to open and close the doors of the temple daily. He had gilded the roof of the temple in 1965 BS. Similarly, in 1989 BS, Haridas Haluwai had put white tiles on the walls of this temple.
Myth regarding Maitidevi Temple
There are various legends about the origin of this Maitidevi Panchkumari Temple, which is surrounded by human settlements. According to legend, in ancient times, the Pancha Kanyas flew from the sky to Maita. As one of the tantriks, who used to graze goats, forced these goddesses to stay here by his tantra power for the defense of the country. Since then, this temple has been called Maiti Devi as the mother of all three Pancha Devi.
According to another legend, while digging a field on the bank of Rudramati (now Dhobi Khola, which flows northeast of the temple), Munikar (Farmer) found a stone (Sheila). The farmer tried a thousand times to move it but could not. At that time, the peacock’s feathers woke up the farmer while the Panchkumaris were walking on the peacock from the sky. He then told the goddesses about the pain he had suffered. After telling his story to the Pancha Kumaris, the goddess became happy and stayed there. That is why some even called this temple as Mayurtirtha.
Premises around Maitidevi Temple
Historians say that King Gunakamdev was the first to establish Ganesh, Bhairav and other gods and goddesses like Kali, Yogini and Ashtamatrika around this temple. Idols of Maitidevi and other deities have made this temple more attractive.
The temple complex in the middle of the settlement is an open space for cooling in the shade of Tree in summer and warming in the sun in winter. Because of this reason, there are many people who use their free time to roam around this temple to kill fatigue. One can feel the quiet atmosphere within the premises of this temple. Many people walk to this temple in the morning as part of the exercise and rest to feel the peace and comfort. The smell coming out from the temple brings a positive aura in devotees.
Crematorium in Maitidevi Temple
There is a crematorium in the Maiti Devi precinct in the middle of the dense settlement. Seven castes of the Newar community are cremated at this crematorium (Shamshan Ghat). They include Munikar, Manandhar, Khadgi, Tandukar, Maharjan, Rajvahak and Shahi Newars. It is said that corpses have been cremated at this ghat inside the temple since time immemorial.
The Maitidevi temple is also becoming an attraction for domestic and foreign tourists from different parts of the country. Many initiations have been taken to rebuild the temple premises as the planks and other structures in the temple premises were destroyed by 2015 earthquake. The main source of development and innovation of this temple is the offerings and donations made by the devotees for the management of the cultural heritage Maitidevi. Let’s hope that all the offerings will be utilized properly to make this temple popular as important heritage sites in Kathmandu.
By: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal