Introducing Dakshinkali


At the southern edge of the valley, in a dark, somewhat spooky location in the cleft between two hills and at the confluence of two rivers, stands the blood-soaked temple of Dakshinkali. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Kali, Shiva’s consort in her most bloodthirsty incarnation, and twice a week faithful Nepalis journey here to satisfy her bloodlust.

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Sacrifices are always made to goddesses, and the creatures to be sacrificed must be uncastrated male animals. Saturday is the major sacrificial day of the week, when a steady parade of chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, pigs and even the occasional buffalo come here to have their throats cut or their heads lopped off by professional local butchers. Tuesday is also a sacrificial day, but the blood does not flow quite as freely. During the annual celebrations of Dasain in October the temple is literally awash with blood and the image of Kali is bathed in it.

After their rapid dispatch the animals are butchered in the stream beside the temple and their carcasses are either brought home for a feast or boiled up on the spot for a picnic in the grounds. You’ll see families arriving with pots, bags of vegetables and armfuls of firewood for the big day out.

Non-Hindus are not allowed into the actual compound where Kali’s image resides (there is often an incredibly long queue for Hindus to get in), but it is OK to take photos from outside. Many tourists behave poorly here, perching vulturelike from every available vantage point in order to get the goriest possible photos. However extraordinary the sights might seem, this is a religious ceremony, and the participants should be treated with respect, not turned into a sideshow.

The path down to the temple is lined with tea stalls, sadhus, souvenir sellers and hawkers selling offerings of marigolds, fruit and coconuts, as well as khuar, a sweet treat somewhere between cottage cheese and fudge (Rs 20 per 100g). The snack stalls at the bus park serve up reviving tea and pappadums for Rs 5 each.

Despite the carnival spirit, witnessing the sacrifices is a strange and, for some, confronting experience. The slaughter is surprisingly matter-of-fact (and you won’t get to see much of it), but it creates a powerful atmosphere.

A pathway leads off from behind the main temple uphill to the Mata Temple, which offers good views.

Last updated: Sep 25, 2008

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/nepal/around-the-kathmandu-valley/dakshinkali#ixzz2JApGQx7f

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