ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Far-away visitors of Buṅgadyaḥ. The Khaśa Mallas of west Nepal and Newar Buddhism


Andolfatto David - Heidelberg University, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg, Germany


10 – Stasis and Motion in the Processional Culture of Kathmandu Valley: The Buṅgadyaḥ Yātrā Revisited


Buṅgadyaḥ is undoubtedly one of the most prominent Buddhist deities of the Kathmandu valley. According to Newar sources the tradition of its yearly chariot (jātrā) procession is attributable to the 7th century. A focal point of the valley’s religious life since then, the festival also attracted foreign devotees, who joined the Newar crowds in rituals related to the ‘rain-making’ god. Chronicles have kept the record of ‘western Malla’ kings and their troops visiting the valley during the 13th and early 14th century. These Mallas, also known by historians as Khaśa Mallas, came from the Karnali basin of today’s west Nepal. The available historical sources show that their passages in the Kathmandu valley were motivated by dual and seemingly contradictory goals: plunder and worship.

The presentation will first provide a historical and archaeological background to these Khaśa Mallas. Secondly, it will develop a micro-historical approach, following an early 14th century Malla ruler on a pilgrimage from the Karnali basin to Buṅgadyaḥ, passing by Lumbini. Finally, the presentation will reassess the Khaśa Mallas’ place in the Buddhist landscape of Kathmandu valley.