Palha Dya commonly known as Shree Sankata or Shanisankata is one of the major guardian deities of Kathmandu Valley. People mainly worship him as Shree Chandam Maha Roshana, the wrathful god that symbolizes anger in Vajrayana Buddhism. Whereas Hindus worship this deity as Sankata, Sani Sankata, and Sankateswari.
Palha Dya’s temple is located in a big and beautiful courtyard called Tebahal in the heart of Kathmandu, Newroad. The temple houses an artistically carved statue of the three-head deity. In two of his four hands, he holds Khadga (Sword) and Padma (lotus). The frontal face is Maha Chandam Rosana, while the left and right are Padmantak and Yogini respectively.
Devotees frequent this temple mainly on Saturdays and Tuesdays. They have faith that, worshipping Palha Dya on these days will avert people from planetary troubles like misfortunes and bad omen. He who worships Palha Dya gets to live ailment-free life. The locals also visit this temple during birthdays in the hopes of a bountiful year ahead.
Hand of Palha Dya aka Sankata at Kuruwa, Southern Kathmandu. When Rato Machendranath and his mother quietly left Nepal (now Kathmandu Valley) to go back to their home in Southern plains, the Tantrics caught them at “Chakra Tirtha” aka “Kuruwa” or “Katuwal Daha”, the Bagmati river boded of Kathmandu and Makwanpur districts. Tantrics casted spell to turn the elusive Red God into bee and trapped him in a Kalasha (vessel) to bring him back the Bungamati Temple. In the course when the Rato Macchendranath in bee form tried to escape Kalasha, the Palha Dya stopped him with his hand (on photo) to stop him. Palha Dya loosely translated to “security guard” in Newar language. Since then, worshipping the hand of Phallya Dhya and the tradition of bringing water from Kuruwa and offering it to the feet of Rato Macchendranath before mounting Him on the 32 feet tall chariot for his Yatra has begun.
Palha Dya’s Existence
There is no written documentation about the establishment of this temple but people believe that a famous Tantrik Bandhudatta Bajracharya with King Narendra Dev of the Licchavi Dynasty (400 – 750 CE) brought in Palha Dya from India and established him here in Nepal.
According to the legend, Palha Dya came to Kathmandu Valley with Bunga Dya, the Red Macchendranath. Bandhudatta, King Narendra Dev, and a farmer called Lalit Chakra Jyaapu went to Kamaru Kamakchya (present Assam of India) to bring Bunga Dya to the valley by capturing his spirit in a form of a bee in an urn. Because they were incapable of bringing Bunga Dya in his physical form.
King Yaksha and Queen Yakshini followed the trio to release their son Bunga Dya from the urn and take him back to where he belonged.
Bunga Dya’s parents caught the trio at a place called Kuruwale. The quarrel immediately broke into a big fight. The urn fell into a nearby river while both parties were forcibly pulling it. A right hand emerging from under the river saved the urn forbidding the escape of the bee spirit from it. This palm was of God Palha Dya, which when broken as “Pa Lhaa Dya” literally translates into, “the one whose palm appeared first”.
Bandhudatta invoked four powerful Bhairab deities, the most vengeful and wrathful form of Lord Shiva to terrorize Yakshini and her family. Bandhudatta then surreptitiously tied the urn to the stomach of a Mali caste woman with a sash. He convinced Yakshini that the bee escaped when urn fell into the river and the woman who was hiding the urn behind the sash was indeed a pregnant woman.
Dismayed Yakshini and her family returned to Kamaru Kamakchya while the trio embarked on their journey back to Kathmandu. Palha Dya requested Bandhudatta to take him along. Again performing his powerful and religious ceremonies Bandhutta turned Palha Dya and his equal female force Yogini into bees and carried them in two separate urns.
They established Palha Dya and Bunga Dya in the same size courtyards in Tebahal, Kathmandu, and Ta Bahal, Patan respectively. Tebahal is formerly known as Raajkriti Mahabihar.
12 Yearly Festival of Palha Dya
To commemorate the existence of Palha Dya, the temple priests go to Kuruwale to reenact the bringing of the god and yogini.
Once in every twelve years, their urns are carried in a palanquin in a merry procession with loud traditional music. The ancient trajectory is preset; starting in Kuruwaley going through Sanepa, Bagmati, Purneswar, Tripureswar, Tudikhel, and finally, via the Newroad gate reaching Tebahal.
The recent celebration of this procession occurred in the year 2072 B.S. (2015)
- Inherited Heritage
- Featured Photo of Sankata Temple by Priti Thapa