If you are visiting the Boudhanath stupa you'll undoubtedly pass by a temple like shrine built beside the steps leading to the stupa's dome. This is a shrine to Ajima, protector of children goddess or the goddess of smallpox.
It's a fascinating little legend well worth taking a quick read about as you'll encounter many people praying in front of this shrine for their children.
A bit strange considering Ajima used to terrorize them and eat them!
Legend goes that that Ajima, or Hariti as she is better known locally, was a demon who had hundreds of children who she loved very much. However, to feed all her children she gave local children smallpox, abducted them and then ate them. Thus giving her energy to feed her many children.
One day Buddha learned about this and decided to hide one of Ajima's beloved children.
Ajima became distraught when she could not find her child. In the end she went to Buddha to ask for his help in finding her child.
Interestingly you can find several Ajima shrines across Kathmandu. Doing a Kathmandu heritage walk is one of the best ways to find them.
Buddha asked Ajima if the pain she felt was the same as all the pain experienced by the hundreds of children she had taken. Ajima understood and so apologized for all the hurt she had caused and vowed never to eat another child again.
Buddha then took Ajima and taught her enlightenment before making her the protector of children.
Today many local people pray to Ajima for protection over their children. You must remove your shoes before stepping up to the shrine.
The statue of Ajima is behind the glass screen.
There are no charges or donations required so ignore anyone asking for them.
The shrine was "renovated" during 2016 when the main Boudha stupa was being repaired. At night the shrine is lit up with butter lamps which can be one of the best times to visit Boudha.
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