Background of Maitidevi Temple
The original Maitidevi temple was built in the 7th century by Amshuverma which was transformed to the original shape as we see it now in the 20th century by Chandra Shumsher. The word ‘Maiti’ means parental home and so Goddess Maitidevi is the mother of all goddesses. The two stone lions guarding the entrance to the sanctum , and the huge peepal tree with its expanding branches arching over the temple (a divine architecture, you could say, to shelter the temple from heat and rain) are some of the relics from the time when Amshu Verma built the first temple in 7th century. Similarly, tucked a few feet away on the right hand side of the temple is a crematorium, a small space enclosed within concrete walls, the remains of the ancient cremation ground (the shamshan ghat).
Locals have urged the temple committee several times to relocate the crematorium or disallow burning of pyres; just across the wall you can see schools and houses that almost certainly reeks with smells when the funeral rites are carried out. The priest at the temple points out, however, that “The crematorium is an integral part of the temple because the actual rituals followed by the priests of Maitidevi temple are based on tantric practices.” The prayer in its original form requires us to burn the human skulls, he says, “but that looks too ogrish today, so we make human face on a large dollop of ghee and burn it instead.”
Traditions associated with the temple continue to change with each generation, but a few have been going on for ages. During Tihar, the Festival of Lights which falls during October-November, for example, prayer to Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) is offered at homes only after Maitidevi is worshipped at the temple. The goddess, also revered as Mahalaxmi, has to be reinstituted inside the sanctum sanctorum every year during Laxmi Puja by the Munikars of Maligaon. The Munikars, a Newari caste living in Maligaon on the east edge of Kathmandu city, are the designated caretakers of the goddess. “They offer prayer to the goddess with special flowers called muswon,” says the priest. (Mu implies Munikar and swon means flower.) Until very recently, this flower was grown exclusively by the Munikars.
Before and after going to Manakamana temple, people offer sacred water to Maitidevi as it is believed that it will materialize their wishes.
According to legend, the temple was built after a divine peacock appeared here and turned everything it touched into gold. Inscriptions and idols from the Lichchhavi era found in the temple help date it to that period, although the site of the temple is also home to ruins from the medieval era.
Panchakumari Jatra starts on the day of Kukur Tihar. Deity from Maligaun is taken in Khat to kalopul and then to Maitidevi Temple. People from surrounding areas like Baneshwor, Maitidevi, DhobiKhola, Dillibazar, Ghattekulo gather together and reach Maligaun to bring the deity to her Temple in Maitidevi every year. There are three chariots
1. Gyaneshwar Ganesh
3. Panchkumari Maa
Ganesh Chariot is taken to Gyaneshwor Ganesh Temple and kept there during Kukur Tihar and Laxmi Pooja. In the evening of Laxmi, Pooja chariot of Ganesh is brought to Maitidevi Temple, and 3 of the chariot starts its procession from Gyaneshwor. Bhairab chariot is taken to Maitidevi Temple and then taken to Masan and make 3 round around the temple, and then the idol of bhairab is kept there for the night. Maa Panchakumari, with her sister Laxmi, is brought with Lava Laskar. The chariot is then rotated from 3 times and rests for the night. The Main Pachkumari Maa Idol is taken inside the temple, where she rests until Laxmi Pooja. During Laxmi puja, all the deity are worshiped and then welcomed there. On the day of Mha puja, all the chariot is taken to a different part of Maiti Devi, dillibazar, putalisadak, ason and is brought back to maligaun. Thousand of Devotee comes and take part in the Jatra and worship the gods as the Gods are placed out of their house or area. It is believed People of Maligaun do their Mha Pooja after the chariot reaches Maligaun, and the god will also perform their MHA puja.