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Chandeshwori Temple

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Chandeshwori Devi Temple

Banepa city is located in beautiful natural environment amidst the holy Punyamata River and different places like Saat Gaaun, Sanga, Panauti, Dhulikhel, Chaakot, and Shrikhandapur around. In Sanskrit, Banepa is known by names like Vinayapuri, Banepur, Barnipur, Banekapur, Byanepe, Baniyuppa and Banepa, while in Newari or Nepal Bhasha, it is also referred to as Bhwenta. Banepa has nine stone spouts, nine wells, nine ponds, nine dabalis and ninety-nine tu (wells). The number nine is considered auspicious and fruitful from the perspective of rulers and the state. Therefore, Banepa city, with its abundant auspicious assets is a home for many religious pilgrimage sites. Among them, the Chandeshwori Temple stands as a focal point for devout worshippers.

Chandeshwori Forest and Chandeshwori Devi

Spread across approximately 189 hectares, Chandeshwori Forest heightened from the west to the east and it is stretched on the northern and southern side. About a quarter of this forest is dominated by Saal trees, which classify this section of Chandeshwori Forest as a Saal forest. This Chandeshwori Forest is worshipped as a religious forest and the temple of Chandeshwori Devi lies here as well. There is a legend associated with the battle between Chandeshwori Devi and the demon Chandasur in this forest area. According to the legend, in ancient times, Chandasur received a blessing from one of the gods, that he wouldn’t be killed by any man except a woman. After which, Chandasur held pride and started giving troubles to the deities. Because of this, gods hid themselves in the present day Chandeshwori Forest. When Chandasur knew about the gods hiding in the forest, he came to the forest and hit a tree with his axe. From that particular tree, Chandeshwori Devi emerged out and the battle between Chandeshwori Devi and Chandasur began. The Devi killed the Chandasur demon there and thus it is believed that she was named Chandeshwori Devi and the forest was named Chandeshwori Froest. This event led to the worship of Chandeshwori Devi.

Structure of the Temple

The Chandeshwori Temple, situated in the Chandeshwori forest, is built in a three-tiered Pagoda style. The first storey of the temple has twenty eight Tudals that has artistic depiction of several gods and goddesses. Similarly, the second storey has twenty Tundals, and the third storey has twelve Tudals. In total, there are sixty different artistic tundals in this temple. In the past, the roof of only the first storey of the temple was adorned with gold platings and pinnacles (Gajurs). However, during restoration in 2065 BS, gold plating was applied to all three storeys of this temple.

Temple Premises

Within the premises of the Chandeshwori Devi Temple, various religious monuments can be found. Inside the temple premises, onecan also see the main temple of Chandeshwor Mahadev built in the Gumbaj style. Besides, there are also temples dedicated to Ganesh, one can also see the picture of Bhairav facing west and the temple of Nateshwor deity, a deity who is highly revered by the students of arts and music. In addition to this, there is also a tradition of painting the picture of Bhairav every year. The painters from Bhaktapur come here to paint the image of Bhairav deity. It starts from the day of Falgun Shukla Dwadashi and continues for four days until the full moon.

In front of the temple one can see five pillars on top of which artistic representations of lions and peacocks are portrayed as a bahan of Chandeshwori Devi. Adjacent to these pillars are large bells with different sounds, which are placed behind the Ganesh temple. Visitors enter the temple from the right side, where a statue of the divine Hanuman is situated. Additionally, a stone statue of Gujeshwari Devi is worshipped in the north-east corners. Moreover, the priests of Chandeshwori Temple perform a special worship ritual called Degudhyo, adding to the religious fervor.

Worship and Festivals

Every month, except during Chandhi Purnima and Falgun Purnima, during the full moon worship ceremony, Cha Pooja is conducted at the Chandeshwori Temple at night. After the completion of worship ceremony, it’s customary to partake in a communal feast. Similarly, on the first day of every month also known as Sankranti day, worship rituals are performed. However, the festival on the first day of Magh also known as Maghe Sankranti holds special significance here. During this day, the designated priest shaves his hair, trims his nail and takes a bath and conducts worship rituals there as per the tradition. Additionally, on the next day of Maghe Sankranti, a ritual known as Boka Bali (sacrifice of he-goat is given), where four priests are invited to perform rituals and partake in a feast. Besides Magh, during other Sankranti days, Cha Pooja is performed and it is usually followed by communal feasts.

Similarly, every year on the Sunday of Ashar Sukla, Desh Pooja is performed. On this occasion, the five types of animal worship i.e. buffalo, goat, sheep, duck and chicken are sacrificed. Besides this, at Chandeshwari Temple there is a tradition of performing worships during the 12 chahre. Among them, on the days of the Pasha Chahre and the Gatamuga Chahre, worship is performed by sacrificing goats and then having a feast. Similarly, on the day of Sithinakha, after worshiping at night at the Chandeshwori Temple, there is a tradition of offering Chataamari and having a feast at the temple premises. Along with this, on the day of Mha Puja, after worshiping the deities, there is a tradition of having a feast during the night at the Temple.

Chandeshwori Mai’s Jatra

Annually, on the day of Buddha Purnima, also known as Chandhi Purnima, Chandeshwori Mai’s Jatra is held. This Jatra carries significant religious and historical importance. Four days prior to the Jatra, sword is brought for the king’s representative dware (guard). Likewise, one day prior to the procession’s day, tak puja is conducted. This worship involves worshipping of twelve goats along with the musical instruments. Following this, on the first day of the Jatra, various musical instruments like Dhime, Naakhyim, Chhusya and several other musical instruments are played and a ceremonial march known as Mat Puja or Chirag Yatra is carried out early in the morning. It is believed to symbolically welcome the deity Chandeshwori.

Additionally, on the next day of Chandhi Purnima, the idol of Chandeshwori Devi is placed on a chariot and taken in a procession from the Chandeshwori Temple to different places of Banepa. Traditional rituals, including offering coconut during the welcome ceremony, and after the completion of worship, a breastfeeding child is made to open the dhakin which is also known as Chandeshwori Mai ko mukh kholne or opening the mouth of Chandeshwori Mai. Likewise, from that day onwards, the turn of the Purohit of Bhaktapur i.e. Rajupadhyaya Brahmin is also changed by taking the Purohit to the place where the Jatra is taking place.

After the Devi’s idol is placed on the chariot, puja brought by the Dhalanchhe Syaamu Khala: of Banepa is performed in the beginning which then is followed by the worship by other devotees present there. On the next day, the khat of the Chandeshwori Devi is worshipped following all the rituals and then the Khat is brought to the Bakutole of Banepa. The chariot is then taken to ancient Layaku Durbar and then the idol of the Devi is placed on another smaller khat, which then is again brought Bakutole. In this place “Masu Charne Jatra” takes place which is also called Kaladaan in Newari language. Following Kalandaan, the idol of Chandeshwori Devi is placed back in the khat and then it is brought to the Chandeshwori Devi Temple which marks the end of Chandeshwori Mai’s Jatra.

References

Harsha Narayan Karmacharya

Priest, Chandeshwori Temple

चण्डेश्वरी देवी मन्दिर
बनेपा सहर, प्रकृतिको रमणीय वातावरण, पुण्यमाता नदी, खोला, खोल्सा लगायत सात गाउँ, साँगा, पनौती, नाला, धुलिखेल, चौकोट, श्रीखण्डपुर, पनौती जस्ता ठाउँहरु बिच अवस्थित छ| संस्कृत भाषामा बनेपालाई, विनयपुरी, बनेपुर, बर्णिपुर, बनेकापुर, ब्यनेपे, बनियुप्प, बनेपा आदि नामले चिनिन्छ भने नेवारी वा नेपाल भाषामा बनेपालाई भ्वेंत पनि भनिन्छ| बनेपामा नौ वटा ढुंगेधारा, नौ वटा वहा, वहि, नौ नै वटा डबली र उनान्सय (९९) वटा टुं (इनारहरु) थिए| नौ अंकलाई राजकीय दृष्टिकोणबाट लक्षणयुक्त र फलदायी मानिन्छ| तसर्थ, यसरी नौ-नौ वटा सम्पदाहरु निर्माण गरेर बनाइएको अति नै लक्षणयुक्त मानिने बनेपा सहरमा धेरै धार्मिक तिर्थस्थलहरु रहेका छन्| जसमध्ये, चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिर पनि धेरै श्रद्धालु भक्तजनहरुको आस्थाको केन्द्रविन्दु हो|

चण्डेश्वरी वन र चण्डेश्वरी देवी
करिब १८९ रोपनी क्षेत्रफलमा फैलिएको चण्डेश्वरी वनको आकार, पश्चिमबाट पूर्वतर्फ चुलिएको र उत्तर-दक्षिणतर्फ लाम्चिए, यसको भौगोलिक वनावट रहेको छ| यहाँ एक चौथाई जति वनको भागमा विशेषत: सल्लाका रुखहरु हुनेभएकाले यसतर्फको भागलाई सल्लाघारी पनि भनिन्छ| धार्मिक वन मानेर पूजा गरिने यस वनमा चण्डेश्वरी देवी र चण्डासुर दैत्यसँग सम्बन्धित किम्बदन्ती गाँसिएको छ| सोहि किम्बदन्ती अनुसार, प्राचीनकालमा चण्डासुर दैत्यले ब्रह्माको तपस्या गरेर स्त्री बाहेक अरुले आफूलाई मार्न नसकून् भन्ने वरदान पाएको थियो| जसपछि त्यो दैत्य उग्र भएर देवताहरुलाई दु:ख दिने, सताउने गर्न थाल्यो| त्यसपछि, देवताहरू चाँगु भेगमा चाँपका रूपमा लुकेर बस्नुभएको थियो। चण्डेश्वरी देवी पनि त्यसै रक्तचन्दन (चण्डेश्वरी वनको) वनमा चाँपकै बोटमा लुकेर बस्नुभएको थियो। त्यसपछि, चण्डेश्वरी देवी लुकेको रुखमा दैत्यले खड्ग प्रहार गर्दा त्यहाँबाट देवी निस्किएर त्यस दैत्यको वध गर्नुभयो| यसरी देवीले चण्डासुर दैत्यलाई वध गरेको भन्ने मान्यताका कारण पनि यी देवीलाई चण्डेश्वरीका रूपमा पूजाआजा गर्ने गरिएको हो।

मन्दिरको बनावट
चण्डेश्वरी वनमा अवस्थित चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिर तीन तल्ले प्यागोडा शैलीमा निर्माण गरिएको छ| मन्दिरको पहिलो तल्लामा विभिन्न देवी देवताहरु अंकित गरिएका अठाइस वटा टुँडालहरु रहेका छन्| त्यस्तै, दोश्रो तल्लामा बीस वटा र अन्तिम तल्लामा बाह्र वटा टुँडालहरु गरी जम्मा साठी वटा टुँडालहरु यहाँ रहका छन्| पहिलेको समयमा यो मन्दिरको पहिलो तलामा मात्रै सुनको मोलाम्बाको छाना र गजुर राखिएको थियो| यद्यपी, २०६५ सालमा जिर्णोद्वार गर्दा मन्दिरको तीनैवटा तलाको छानामा सुनको मोलाम्बा लगाइएको छ|

मन्दिर परिसर
चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिर परिसरमा विभिन्न धार्मिक सम्पदाहरु रहेका छन्| मन्दिर परिसरभित्र गुम्बज शैलीमा निर्माण भएको चण्डेश्वर महादेवको मन्दिर रहेको छ भने, यहाँ गणेश मन्दिर, पश्चिम फर्केको भैरवको ठुलो चित्र साथै सङ्गीत र नाटकका पारखीहरुले अत्यन्त श्रद्धापूर्वक पूजा गर्ने नाटेश्वरको देवताको मन्दिर समेत देख्न सकिन्छ| त्यस्तै, भैरवको चित्रमा वार्षिक रुपमा भक्तपुरको चित्रकारद्वारा विधिपूर्वक रङ्ग रोगन हुने गर्दछ| यो चित्रमा रङ्ग रोगन गर्ने कार्य फागु पूर्णिमाको चार दिन अघि अर्थात् फागुन शुक्ल द्वादशीको दिनदेखि पूर्णिमाको चार दिन पछिसम्म गरिन्छ|
मन्दिर बाहिर पाँचवटा ढुंगाका खम्बाहरुमाथि चण्डेश्वरी देवीको वहानको रुपमा कलात्मक किसिमले सिंह, मयुरहरुको प्रतिमा राखिएको छ| यी खम्बाहरुसँग-सँगै, गणेश मन्दिरको पछाडीपट्टी फरक-फरक ध्वनी भएका ठुला घण्टहरु रहेका छन्| चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिरको दर्शन गर्न ढोकाबाट प्रवेश गर्नासाथ दायाँतर्फ वायुपुत्र हनुमानको मूर्ति त्यस्तै, पूर्व-उत्तर कुनामा ढुंगाको प्रस्तर मूर्ति छ जसलाई गुजेश्वरी (गुहेश्वरी) देवी भनेर पूजा गरिन्छ| साथै, मन्दिरमा चण्डेश्वरी देवीका पूजारीहरुले पुजा गर्ने देगुध्यो पनि रहेको छ|

पूजाआजा र चाडपर्व
चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिरमा प्रत्येक महिनामा पर्ने (चण्डी पूर्णिमा र फागु पूर्णिमा बाहेका) पूर्णिमाको दिन बेलुका पूर्णिमा पूजा अर्थात् चा पूजा गर्ने परम्परा रहिआएको छ| सो पुजा सकिएपछी भने समेबजी खाने प्रचलन छ| साथै, प्रत्येक महिनाको एक गते अर्थात् संक्रान्तीको दिनमा पूजाआजा गरिने भएतापनि माघे संक्रान्तीलाई अझ विशेष रुपमा मनाइन्छ| यस दिन, दिक्षित पूजारीले कपाल खौरी, नङ काटी, नुहाई सरकारी द्वारे मार्फतको पुगा पूजा र पूजारीहरुको आ-आफ्नो पर्व पुजा गर्दछन्| माघे सक्रान्तीको भोलिपल्ट भने बोका बली पूजा गरी चार जना पुजारीहरुलाई बोलाएर भोज खुवाउने गरिन्छ| माघ महिना बाहेकका संक्रान्तीहरुमा भने बेलुका चा पूजा गरी भोज खुवाइन्छ|
त्यस्तै, प्रत्येक वर्ष असार शुल्क आइतबारको दिन देश पूजा गरिन्छ| उक्त पूजामा द्वारे मार्फत गरिने पन्चवली पूजा (राँगा, बोका, भेडा, हाँस, कुखुरा) हुँदै आइरहेको छ| यी बाहेक चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिरमा बाह्र वटा चह्रे पूजा हुने गर्दछन्| जसमध्ये, पाशा चह्रे र गठामुग चह्रेको दिनहरुमा बोका पूजा गरेर भोज गर्ने गरिन्छ| त्यस्तै, सिठिनखको दिनमा पनि बेलुका चापूजा गरेर चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिरमा चतामरी चढाई भोज गर्ने गरिन्छ| यसका साथै, म्ह पूजाको दिनमा पनि देवतालाई म्ह पूजा गरी, बेलुका मन्दिरमा पुजा गरेपछि भोज खाने परम्परा रहिआएको छ|

चण्डेश्वरी माईको जात्रा
प्रत्येक वर्ष बुद्ध पूर्णिमाको दिन अर्थात् चण्डी पूर्णिमामा, चण्डेश्वरी माईको जात्राले धार्मिक तथा ऐतिहासिक महत्व बोकेको छ| जात्राको चार दिन अगाडि राजाको प्रतीक द्वारेको लागि तरबार ल्याउने र लाने गरिन्छ| त्यस्तै, जात्राको अघिल्लो दिन राती तक पूजा गरिन्छ| तक पूजामा बाजागाजा सहित बाह्रवटा बोकाहरुको पूजा हुन्छ| त्यसपछि भने, जात्राको पहिलो दिन बिहान सबेरै धिमे, नाय्खिं, छुस्या लगायत विभिन्न बाजागाजा सहित मत पूजा (चिराग यात्रा) निकालिन्छ। चण्डेश्वरी देवतालाई स्वागत गरेको प्रतीकात्मक रुपमा मत पूजा गरिएको भन्ने मान्यता रहिआएको छ।
त्यस्तै, चण्डी पूर्णिमाको भोलिपल्ट चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिरबाट, चण्डेश्वरी देवीलाई रथमा विराजमान गराई बनेपामा जात्रा गर्दै लगिन्छ| लसकुस अथवा स्वागत पूजाविधिमा नरिवल चढाउने पूजा सकिएपछि दुधे बालकद्वारा “ढकिं”उघार्ने अर्थात् माई चण्डेश्वरीको मुख खोल्ने कार्य हुन्छ| यसको साथ साथै त्यसदिन देखि बनेपाका पुरोहित भक्तपुरका राजोपाध्याय ब्राम्हणको वार्षिक पुरोहित्याहीं पालो पनि बदलिन्छ|
देवीको मूर्तिलाई खटमा राखेपछि सबैभन्दा पहिला बनेपाको धलंछेँ साय्मि खलःबाट ल्याइएको पूजा सकिएपछि, अन्य भक्तजनहरुको पूजा लिने परम्परा रहिआएको छ। भोलिपल्ट बिहानसम्ममा सोही स्थानमा रहेको देवी सहितको खटलाई विधिपूर्वक पूजाआजा सकेर पुनः खटलाई बनेपाको वकुटोलतर्फ ल्याइन्छ ।
खटलाई प्राचीन लाय्कू दरबारसम्म पुर्‍याइन्छ र त्यहाँबाट चण्डेश्वरी देवीको मूर्तिलाई अर्को सानो खटमा राखेर पुनः वकुटोलमै ल्याइन्छ । यस स्थानमा मासु छर्ने जात्रा जसलाई नेवारीमा कलंदान भनिन्छ, पूजा गर्ने परम्परा रहँदैआएको छ । कलंदान पछि मूर्तिलाई सानो खटमा राखेर पुनः चण्डेश्वरीमा पुर्‍याएपछि जात्रा सकिन्छ ।

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हर्ष नारायण कर्माचार्य
पुजारी, चण्डेश्वरी मन्दिर

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