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Shaktism in Nepal – Worship of Mother Goddess in Hindu Religion in Nepal

Nepal is a well-known center of tantric worship and an important seat of Shaktism. The main teachings of Shaktism found in Nepal are in the form of dialogues between Shiva and Durga Bhavani (Goddess Parvati).

Tantrism and Shaktism were widely prevalent and practiced in Nepal during the medieval Malla period.

Thousands of manuscripts associated with Mother Goddess Worship are found in the museums, temples, sacred places and in the homes of priests. These ancient manuscripts extol the dominance of Shaktism in the country during the medieval period.

Ancient Tantric texts in Nepal belong to three branches of Tantra –
  • Shaiva
  • Shakta and
  • Buddhist.

Mother Goddesses Worshipped in Nepal

Even today, Tulja Bhavani and Guhyakali are generally invoked along with Lord Pashupatinatha (Shiva). This is a continuation of Mother Goddess worship from ancient times.

Other goddesses worshipped are Lakshmi, Mahavidya, Saraswati, Kali, Parvati, Sati, Devi, Ishwari, Kumari, Yogini and Mai.

Mother Goddess Shakti has both benign and fierce form. She has countless manifestations. She appears when Adharma (evil) flourishes. She quells the demons and blesses her devotees. She also appears to cure life-threatening diseases. She also nourishes the land by ending droughts. She protects children and women.

Animals are sacrificed to fierce form of Mother Goddess Shakti.

Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati are worshipped for wealth and knowledge and their worship is pure and peaceful.

A host of goddesses who are fierce manifestation of Goddess Shakti like Kali, Dakini, Yogini and other such deities are widely worshipped throughout Nepal.

Mahishasuramardini Durga

The fierce form of Goddess Durga is worshipped during the Bara Dasain and blood is part of rituals.
The form of Durga worshipped in Nepal during the festival is Mahishasuramardini – numerous buffalos and goats are sacrificed as part of the festival observed in late September or during the first half of October.

The full form icons of Durga can be seen with either 18 or 8 hands during the festival.

Prominent among many shrines with full form images of Durga in the Nepal valley are those at Palancok and Naksal.


Kumari

Kumari is the virgin aspect of Durga, worshipped in the form of a living person. The Kumari temple is an important tradition in Nepal.

The practice of Kumari tradition has largely disappeared from many regions in Nepal but is still in existence in the Kathmandu valley. (You can read about Kumari - The Living Goddess here)

Talezu or Tulja Bhavani

Talezu or Tulja Bhavani is an important manifestation of Shakti worship in Nepal. She is the royal deity of Nepal. She was the family deity of the medieval Malla kings. She had been adopted from the Karnata Dynasty of Mithila in North Bihar and Nepal Tarai.

Her shrine is located on a high plinth in the ancient royal courtyard of Kathmandu. It is open to public during the Navratri Festival (late September or early October). She is propitiated by a yajna of 108 buffalos and goats.

Goddesses Associated with Disease and Epidemic

Goddess Sitala, Hariti and Sankata are propitiated to ward off epidemic, small pox, fire and other calamities. These deities are also worshipped for the welfare of children.

Kali, Chamunda and Chinnamasta are invoked to defeat enemies.

Folk deities and those inspired from local legends include Bala Kumari, Maiti Devi, Tripurasundari, Tara, Ugra Tara and Nila Tara. In the plains of Nepal, the shrine of folk Goddess known as Sona Mai attracts thousands of devotees.

Shaktism in Art - Culture - Paintings

Art, culture, icons and paintings in Nepal have been influenced by the tantric and mother goddess tradition.

Fearsome murtis of Bhairava Shiva and Dakini are very common in old Shakti temples in Kathmandu valley.

Thanka or mandala paintings are from the direct influence of Tantra.

Mantra, tantra, yantra and Sri Yantra are widely using in Tantric and Shakti worship.

Ritual dances practiced throughout Nepal have a direct connection with Bhairava and Mother Goddess worship.