Seto Machindranath is a revered deity in Nepal, worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. The story of Seto Machindranath dates back to the medieval period, when the Kathmandu valley was ruled by the Malla dynasty. According to legend, a drought had ravaged the valley for several years, causing widespread suffering and famine.
The rulers of the valley consulted their astrologers and priests, who advised them to perform a series of rituals to appease the gods and bring rain to the land. One of these rituals involved the creation of a statue of Seto Machindranath, a deity associated with rain and prosperity.
The statue was crafted from a single block of wood and adorned with precious jewels and gold. The craftsmen worked tirelessly for several months, imbuing the statue with divine energy and power. When the statue was finally completed, it was placed in a temple in the heart of Kathmandu. The rulers of the valley then began a grand festival in honor of Seto Machindranath, which involved taking the deity out in a chariot procession through the streets of Kathmandu. Thousands of devotees would gather to witness this spectacle and seek the blessings of the deity.
Over the centuries, the festival has become an integral part of Nepalese culture and heritage. It is celebrated with great pomp and show every year, with devotees from all over the world flocking to Kathmandu to participate in the festivities.
Seto Machindranath is revered not only for his association with rain and prosperity, but also for his compassion and wisdom. Devotees pray to him for guidance and enlightenment, and seek his blessings for their families and loved ones. Today, the Seto Machindranath temple in Kathmandu remains one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Nepal, attracting thousands of visitors every year. The statue of Seto Machindranath is still regarded as a symbol of hope and prosperity, and continues to inspire generations of Nepalese people.
The Seto Machindranath festival is celebrated with various traditional customs and rituals. Here are some of them:
Chariot Procession: The most important aspect of the festival is the chariot procession, where the statue of Seto Machindranath is placed on a chariot and pulled through the streets of Kathmandu by devotees. The chariot is decorated with flowers, lights, and colorful fabrics. Devotees believe that by participating in the chariot procession, they can earn the blessings of the deity.
Puja: During the festival, special pujas (prayer ceremonies) are conducted at the Seto Machindranath temple. Devotees offer flowers, fruits, and other offerings to the deity, and recite prayers and mantras to seek his blessings. The puja is usually conducted by a priest or a group of priests.
Animal Sacrifice: Although not practiced by all devotees, animal sacrifice is a traditional ritual associated with the Seto Machindranath festival. Some devotees offer goats or chickens as a sacrifice to the deity, as a way of expressing their devotion and gratitude.
Kora: Devotees also perform a kora, which is a circumambulation around the temple or the chariot. This is believed to accumulate merit and purify one’s sins. The kora is done in a clockwise direction, and devotees usually recite mantras or prayers while performing the ritual.
Newari Dances: The festival also features various Newari dances, which are performed by traditional dancers. These dances are meant to entertain the deity and to express the joy and devotion of the people.
Overall, the Seto Machindranath festival is a vibrant and colorful celebration of the deity, marked by traditional customs and rituals that have been passed down for centuries.