Indrayani Mandir, Kathmandu
A short detour on the way to the Swayambhu Stupa allows a visit to the Indrayani Mandir, a temple on the Vishnumati embankment. Indrayani or Luti Ajima is a mother or grandmother deity whose great popularity derives from various well-known legends, including the belief that she can relieve dysentery.In contrast to her prosperous sister deities Luti Ajima is said to have been a poor widow always struggling to feed and clothe her children. At the annual Pasachare Festival the well-dressed and richly bejeweled sisters were ashamed of Luti Ajima and her hungry brood and allowed them only the left-overs. Luti Ajima vowed never to see her sisters again. Even after a miracle made her rich - a stale crust was turned to gold - she kept her vow.
The annual Indrayani Festival is Luti Ajima's recompense for missing the Pasachare Festival. Devotees gather at her shrine beside the Vishnumati on the thirteenth day of the old moon at the end of November/beginning of December, lighting a sacrificial fire in front of the temple arcade. After midnight a water-buffalo is led into the temple and its throat cut so that blood flows over the little bronze image of Indrayani. During the festival an unusual Tantric ritual takes place in which two snakes are thrown into the air and allowed to escape - a symbol of continuity. Two more snakes are burnt alive - sacrificed to Agni, god of fire. The ceremony is repeated with insects and sparrows. On the night of the fourteenth day the other mother deities are brought to the Indrayani Temple in procession. They are then displayed on Thahiti Square before returning to their shrines in their palanquins (a kind of litter).
Shobha Bhagwati Mandir
Across the Vishnumati from the Indrayani Mandir stands the Shobha Bhagwati Temple. Shobha Bhagwati (meaning "beautiful goddess") is an aspect of Durga. The shrine is known as a refuge for witches.