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Prathampur Mahabiha

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Namaste! You’re welcome.  

You are in the Lalitpur District of Bagmati Province, Lalitpur Metropolitan City Ward No. 22 in the Bungmati area of the Kathmandu Valley.  

Construction of Prathampur Mahabihar

Legend has it that Rato Machhindranath was brought from The Kamrup Kamakshya Mountain of India for the prevention of a 12-year-long drought and famine. God Machhindranath expressed the desire to establish Buddha in the area after bringing Machhindranath to Nepal Mandal. Accordingly, the three brothers of Patan, Dharmashree Mishra, Gyanshree Mishra, and Dhyan Chandra Mishra built three viharas that are Konti Bahi, Ebahi, and Bunga bahi. Later, 15 branches of these three Bihars were also built. Although there was a tradition and partnership between the previous three Bihars through religious rituals and other cultural activities, later it is heard from the Guthiyars that they have established Bihar in their own place and started operating separately. Guthiyars also believe that the increase in the number of Bihars has ended many old traditions here. 

Built by Dharmashree Mishra, Gyanshree Mishra, and Dhyan Chandra Mishra, Bung-bahi is the first of these three viharas. Bunga-bahi can be understood in the literal sense as Bungmati’s Bahal. According to inscriptions on the statue, Bihar was established between 487 and 491 AD. 

The naming of Prathampur Mahabihar 

Since it was the first one to be built in the Bungmati region, the name of this Mahabihar is believed to be Prathampur. It is also heard that the name of Prathampur Mahabihar should be Prathampur Patam Mahabihar, according to Nwaku Thakali, Muniraj Brahmacharya, one of the Brahmacharya Guthiyars of Mahabihar. The reason for this naming is related to the context of three Mishra builders placing the patam (lotus flower) seat before the creation of Vihar. According to this incident, the deities were first invoked or created in this vihara by placing the seat of Patam. Hence, according to this story, this place should be called Prathampur Patam Mahabihar since the origin of the gods and this vihara is connected with patam (lotus flower). 

According to the most amazing legend, since the construction of Prathampur Mahabihar, no couple has stayed in this Vihar together, and even now it is said that no birds have spent the night together in this Mahabihar. There is also a rule that no couple should stay together during jatra or any other puja within the Vihar. According to the popular belief among Brahmacharya Pujaris, this phenomenon occurs due to the posture or position of (Chanda Maharoshana and Shakti) the family deity of Brahmacharyas. 

Routines and Festivals:

It is believed that after the construction of the Mahabihar by Dharmashree Mishra, Gyanshree Mishra, and Dhyan Chandra Mishra, they planned the worshipping ceremonies and the deities to be worshipped at this place. According to the plan, it was finalized that a total of 21 deities should be worshiped in Mahabihar. Each of these gods and goddess and their worship rituals have a specific reason to be worshipped in this Mahabihar. The ‘Safu’  book of Newari Buddhism is used during the main pujas of Mahabihar. According to popular belief, ‘Safu’ is believed to have been created by the deities of Buddhism. From the book, various mantras are recited or revised for the daily activities to be done by the Brahmacharya Pujaris while worshiping and carrying out other rituals. 

Ausipuja (Amai Puja): 

Every month, Amai puja is performed on the day of the Ausi. It is customary for four thakalis and amaipalas to perform puja and eat a feast while worshiping Chanda Maharoshan(family deity of brahmacharyas. After this, the worshipping is done by offering samayebaje, rakshi, jadh, etc. are made in the Aagan by Panchamakar method while the Buddha in Kwapadyoche is worshiped by offering fruits, nauvaidya, ghyal kasti, and panchamrit. After the puja is over, it is customary for 29 guthiyars to sit down and have a feast. This puja is done for good luck and good health.

Mahakal Puja: 

This puja is performed three times a year on the Shukla purnima tithi of Magha, Chaitra, and Shravan month. Since the puja is done in the middle of the night, it is called ‘Cha Puja’ (Night Worship). It is believed that this puja has been practiced since the establishment of the Vihara. Mahakal, located on the right side of the entrance of the vihara, is worshiped by the main priest (Guvaju) of the vihara. 

During this puja, a pavilion is made at the entrance of the place right where the idol of Mahakal is installed as well as Kalash, sinhamu, jwalanyak, gvalaya vava, dyupati, sukunda, thapi, etc. are placed and 33 crore deities are worshiped by singing ‘chacha’ (verses that the bajrayani utter to invoke the deity) according to the tantric method. After the puja is over, the Guthiyars and pujaris of the vihara eat ‘Samaye baji’ and Bhoj. After eating the feast, everything offered to the deity along with leavings in the leaf plate and the other items are collected, then the items cooked in the feast are added 3-3 times into the previous food pile and the Gubhaju calls ‘Dhumangarahi’ (ghosts and the remaining deities) and they are taken to the crossroad for ‘Kalaha Waya’ (Selaune). It is customary for a person going for ‘Kalaha Waya’ to not talk with anyone along the way. For his safety, Gubhaju places Akshyata that are recited with mantras on the person’s head along with a friend. After returning from Kalaha Waya, all the Guthiyars are given clean water, and a betel nut for everyone. After this, Gubhaju recites the religious texts and hands over the portion of the feast offered for Lakshmi to Thakalinakin (Thakali’s wife), and the puja is completed.

Majukhwa Dishi Puja: 

This is a kind of secret worship that is performed for five days from the Dashami Tithi in Poush Month. Those people or even Guthiyars who have not received the ‘dekha’ (mantra) are not to even allowed to see this puja. This puja is performed in Aagam with the involvement of two Gubhaju priests, five Thakali Aajus, and two ‘Thakali Naki’ (wife of guthiyars) who have taken Diksha. 

Vasundhara Puja: 

Vasundhara Puja is performed on the first Tritiya day before the beginning of Bada Dashain. Located on the first floor of the Eastern section of the Vihar, Basundhara Mandap is cleaned and after preparing the pavilion with Naugraha (akhe, maas, kerau, bhatmas, wheat, paddy, mustard, sasyun, lawa) and decorated with color powders (abir, kesari, sunilo color, flour) and worshiped by installing the idol of Vasundhara on the mandap. On this day, it is customary to worship the local Kumari from the two Thakalinakis of Bihar.

Dwadashi Puja (placing the body of the aju): 

This puja is performed on the Dwadashi tithi of Magh month as the Shraddha Puja of Dhyan Chandra Mishra, who built the Prathampur Mahabihar. It starts at 8-9 pm and ends at 2-3 am in the night. Shradh is performed according to the normal method of shradh by placing a small rice in ‘Kolha’ (copper vessel used in Shraddha) by installing kalash, sinhamhu jwalayanak, etc. There is also a tradition of singing ‘chacha’ (a verse used by Vajrayanis to invoke the deity) while performing this puja. The rest of the puja is done by a single Thalakali sitting alone performing tantric rituals. Then, after he starts to duly panic according to the ritual, all the guthiyars go in and the tantric rituals are completed.

Chaitya Puja: 

On the day of Kartik Shukla Purnima, there is a tradition of hiding the Chaitya by using holy cloth through sattvic method which is performed by 29 guthiyars of Prathampur Mahabihar. After that, an offering of alcohol and eggs is made through the trantic method for completing the puja. After the completion of both pujas, it is customary for the Guthiyars to eat a group feast.

In addition to these pujas, on the day of Ghantakarna Chaturdashi, the ghantakarna symbol of Chhwali is made and birsarjan is done at the crossroads in front of the vihara. Similarly, on the day of ‘Sithi Nakha’ (Kumar Shashthi), it is customary to clean the water sources around the vihara, wells, ponds, etc., and then worship in Agam. Also, on the day of Chaitra Purnima, the Shakyamuni Buddha installed in the main sanctum sanctorum is duly bathed and worshiped. Apart from this, other common pujas including Vratbandha are also performed.

It is customary for four thakalis to take a maha snan (grand bath) by placing the water of Bagmati river in the gagro (water vessel) and placing the flowers of the Baginu tree (chichila), peepal leaves, bamboo leaves, cow’s milk, different flowers, etc. One day before the maha snan, all hair on the head of Thakalis is shaved and then they do on a fast as a preparation for this puja.


Two gates have been built specifically to enter Bihar. The main entrance on the eastern side of the monastery has a ‘samha window’, while the square of the gate has artistic flowers and portraits of fairies on the wracket (laccha). The antiquity of the monastery can also be gauged from the base of the door board and the door cart. At the top and right of the entrance, a clay linen has been prepared and the shape of the eye is painted on it. Most of these images have been stolen. The ‘Vakhunjhya’ (pigeon window) placed on the right side of the door in Vihar’s architectural style is also kept in this vihara.


According to the tradition of placing idols of Gods and Goddesses like Bharati, Mahakal, Ganesh, etc. on the left hand and right-hand side of the wall towards the inner part of the main entrance for the protection of the vihara, the statue of Buddha with Mahakal, Shakti has been installed on the left hand and right hand side of the main entrance of this vihara. At the same place, the stone inscription dating back to 988 AD can also be found.

Kwapadyo Chhen:

According to the tradition of installing the main deity at Kwapadyochhe (original Gandhakuti) in front of the main entrance of the monastery, a 3 feet tall stone statue of Shakyamuni Buddha has been installed here. The study of the stone artifact used in the statue can be estimated to have been built around the 16th/17th century. Above this room, there is another room where the pragyaparamita is installed and above it, artistic wooden bricks have been carved into a traditional ‘Fucha’.

Agam Kotha: 

With the development of the Vajrayana sect in Buddhism, tantric education took an important place within the sect. Therefore, according to the tradition of constructing a separate room in each vihara to provide tantric education, a secret room has also been built in this vihara.This is also referred as ‘Agam Kotha’. Only those who have done ‘Bratabandha’ or given ‘dikshya’ can enter this room. Agam Kotha is built on the upper floor of the vihara and tantric deities like Heruk, Hevajra, Chakrasamvar, Chanda maharoshan, Vajravarahi, Bajrayogini, etc. are installed there. 

On the right side of the main gate of the agam ‘Kyakyasi’, god with a crow like face and on the left side ‘Walkyasi’, the deity with a parrot-like face has been installed. These deities are depicted with both of them holding kalash in their hands. One can only enter inside by sprinkling some pure water and being purified by the act. Unfortunately, these idols depicting these dieties have now disappeared. Inside, the cloth curtain called ‘Dhaki’ is made in the image of Agam gods like Khya, Kav, etc.


Prathampur Mahabihar Vishnu Bhagwan Guthi, Nwaku Thakali, Muniraj Brahmacharya

Prathampur Mahabihar Vishnu Bhagwan Guthi, President, Kulratna Brahmacharya, Contact: 9851097035 

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