Kasta Mandap -Known locally as Maru Sattal, this huge, open temple has a long history. Popular legend has it that during King Laxmi Narsingh's time Kalpa Briksha came to see the chariot festival of Machchhendranath, where he was recognized by one of the priest of Machchhendranath, The priest seized him and refused to release him until he promised to give a tree from whose wood a rest house could be built. Kalpa Briksha made the promise, and so he was released. Four days later, a huge sal tree was delivered. With the King's permission, the Kastha Mandap was built from the wood of this single tree; Kathmandu has derived its name from Kastha Mandap.A three-storyed building, Kastha Mandap has an open ground floor, underlining its original purpose as a public building. The decorations and carvings added over the years have greatly enhanced the original design, bringing it closer to the appearance of a shrine. The central image in Kastha Mandap is of Gorakhnath. At each of the four corners is an image of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god.
The Living Goddess sometimes appears in one of the first-floor windows, especially if her handlers are paid well enough, and is said to answer devotees' questions with the expressions on her face. She is most likely to appear in the morning or late afternoon.
Festivals and Events
The most important festival for the Kumari is Indra Jaatra,a celebration of the harvest held in late August or early September. On the third day of the festival, the Kumari Devi is carried around Durbar Square in a chariot. The chariot is kept next door to the Kumari Ghar and the great wooden yokes from past years are laid out nearby.
In a tradition established by King Jaya Prakash Malla(builder of the temple), the Kumari also bestows a tika(mark of blessing) on the forehead of the king who would reign in the coming year. This tradition was used against the king within a year: he was driven into exile on the even of Indra Jaatra in 1768,allowing the conqueror to take the tika and become the rightful king.
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