KATHMANDU: Each religious festival is different from the other not only in the way it is celebrated, but also in terms of people’s belief in the stories associated with such celebrations. Whether the legends are true or not, people’s faith however is strong and they visit such melas with a certain motive.
Matsyanarayan Mela at Matsya Gaon that started from August 18 this year is one such festival that people visit to get rid of sin and sickness. It takes place every two-and-a-half years during the Purushottam month according to calculations based on the lunar and solar calendars.
Away from sin and sickness
You have two choices to reach this destination — Matsyanarayan Mela at Matsya Gaon.
You may opt for Kalanki-Thankot highway where the vehicles are easily available. Get down at Matsya Gaon bus park and you will reach your destination within a walk of five minutes.
On the other hand, if you like some walking, take the route from Kirtipur. After a walk of about 45-minutes from Kirtipur, you will reach the venue and on the
way you can enjoy the beauty of nature.
On reaching the spot, you will definitely notice a not so architecturally elaborative Matsyanarayan temple coloured in white and surrounded by water.
The name Matsyanarayan suggests the possibility of existence of Lord Matsyanarayan in the middle of water where Matsya in Sanskrit means fish.
Meanwhile, the presence of 14 stone-taps inside the temple compound makes it more beautiful. Also, you will see more stone spouts on the opposite side of the the temple. And the water from these taps are believed to have divine power to cure any kind of sickness.
Seventy-three-year-old Laxmi Narayan Manandhar, a local revealed, “A man from Naikap comes here everyday at 4:00 am to take bath as his sickness was cured because of this divine power of
During the mela, huge crowds line up just to sprinkle the water on their face or to take a bath.
The locals have a belief that all the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu reside in the Matsyanarayan temple during the Purushottam month. As such they have a belief that Lord Vishnu grants a wish to those people visiting the temple in this month. It is also believed that anyone who has committed any kind of sin will be free from it if s/he visits the Matsyanarayan temple on this month.
Gyan Bahadur Gopali, Co-ordinator of Mela Management Committee and former president of Matsya Gaon VDC, shared that there isn’t any exact date when the temple was built but the stone inscriptions around the temple mention that it was renovated in the Lichchhavi period.
Ambika Basnet, one of the visitors shared, “I visit the mela for peace and prosperity of my family and to get rid of any health hazards.”
Another visitor, Vishnu Karki, 70, who visits the mela every time stated, “Those who have love in their heart and knowledge about the goodness about visiting a place during mela come here to pay homage to Lord Matsyanarayan. Coming here and taking bath in the stone spout helps one to get rid of all sin and is able to move ahead in the way of
It is believed that Matsya Avatar (upper part of body as human and lower part as fish) is the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu in Satya Yug. In this incarnation, he saved the world and humanity from a huge flood that inundated the earth.
Sudama Acharaya, a priest there explained, “During Satya Yug a noble king Satyabrata was offering water to the Sun God in the morning when a tiny fish got in his hand. The king then was about to leave the fish back in water when the tiny fish spoke and requested him not to let it go.”
As such the king kept it safe in a vessel. But the fish increased in size and asked the king for bigger vessel. The fish continued growing and the king placed it in a kuwa then pond, lake, river and in the end in the ocean as per Acharaya.
“The very kuwa where the king Satyabrata had kept the fish which was the Matsya avatar of Lord Vishnu is the water source of stone spouts around this temple,” the priest claimed.
There are many other legends associated with this mela.
About one such legend, Dev Kumar Deshar, Secretary of Matsyanarayan Development Committee shared, “Legends say that when Kathmandu Valley was covered with water, Lord Krishna entered the Valley with gwalas. As they were roaming around, Lord Krishna suddenly disappeared and the gwalas meditated inside the temple for Lord Shiva to know the whereabouts of Lord Krishna.”
Then, Lord Shiva told them that Lord Krishna was playing in water as a fish. Gwalas then sat near the water source and prayed for a month when Lord Krishna appeared before them in the Matsya avatar. The God also told them that he just wanted to show his Matsya Avatar to his friends. And since then worshipping of and praying to Matsyanarayan began, as per Deshar.
Not only does the festival have so many legends associated with it, the mela itself is a colourful celebration.
You can watch the mask dance — a dance performance by traditional musical troupe. Also the venue echoes with various religious songs sung by locals as well as visitors.
Besides worshipping, there are various amusement rides for children as well as adults. The vendors selling various things and small teashops welcome you with proper hospitality where you get to fill your tummy with local delicacies.
Badri Maya Maharjan a visitor finds the mela “very entertaining as it takes place once in three years”.
Now and then
With the growth in population, the number of visitors coming to this area is also increasing, as per Gopali. And the facility is also becoming better.
Compared to earlier years, the facility of transportation has improved where “we are also providing health facility and to manage the festival, 150 volunteers are working here.”
Meanwhile for Manandhar, the area has become cleaner these days. Moreover, all the houses there nowadays have sanitation facility.
The Matsyanarayan Mela continues till September 16.