Avalokitesvara and its forms
Among the 108 forms of Lokeswara Avalokitesvara is one who refuses to accept Nirvana since he considers such acceptance is selfish in view of the ignorance of the great majority of the people who have not yet attained the stage. His sacrifice symbolizes infinite compassion(Karuna), sharing of mankind’s misery, willingness to help those in distress. He holds in his hand the indestructible jewel. He is savior and protector from danger. So his mantra “OM MANI PADME HUM” is found inscribed on rocks, loose stones, prayer wheels, etc.
In China, Avalokitesvara is a female figure called Guanyin. In Cambodia, he appears as Lokesvara in Japan he is called Kanzeon or Kannon. In Tibet, people often call him the reincarnation of Dalai Lama.
Avalokitesvara has six different forms in the Mahayana tradition. Great compassion, great loving-kindness, lion-courage, universal light, the leader amongst gods and men, and the great omnipresent Brahman.
In Nepal, Avalokitesvara is found in different temples of Kathmandu. The other name given to Seto Machindranath is an aspect of Avalokitesvara who is worshiped by both Hindu and Buddhist. The Seto Machindranath temple is situated in the street of Kathmandu between Oson and Indra Chowk.
Story behind Seto Machindranath
During the rule of King Yaksha Malla in the Kantipur kingdom, people used to take bathe in the holy river and visit Swayambhunath. Doing so would take them to heaven after death. After knowing this power of Swayambhunath, Yamraj (God of Death) visited the temple. While Yamraj was returning from the temple, he was captured by King Yaksha Malla and his Tantric Guru and demanded immortality and won’t let Yamraj free. So Yamraj prayed to Arya Avalokiteshvara (Seto Machindranath) to free him.
In the month of Poush every year, this deity is bathed and repainted. The living goddess Kumari also attends this event. Trishna Sakya, 3-year-old girl is the newly appointed Kumari after the Ex-Kumari Matina Shakya entered her puberty.
There is a popular festival called Seto Machindranath Rath Jatra celebrated during Chaitra Shukla Ashtami. At first, Machindranath is carried up to Jamal Tindhara in a small chariot and then moved to a bigger chariot, which is then pulled around the different areas of Kathmandu including Asan, Hanuman Dhoka, Jaisideval, and Lagan.