Discover treelore from Nepal – The Toothache tree of Kathmandu, where you can pray to Danteshwori Devi, the Goddess alleviating toothache. If you cannot ask your pain away, try visiting the dental clinics nearby.
A shy little girl in her school uniform, with long plaited black hair and a toothless smile touches a tree lump with the right hand an then puts her hand on the hearth. Next to her, the mother holds her tight on the left hand, this street is busy.
As people pass by, they bow down and pray for their teeth. The Danteshwori Devi shrine attracts many worshipers, as well as the patients to the dental professional around it.
Kathmandu, the historical and traditional city compromises of various temples and deities at its every nook and corner. As we walk down the lane that takes us to Thamel from Durbar Square, at Bangemudha Ward No 28, right next to the old bazaar – the great medieval market of Asan – there is the open temple, where the Newari God of toothache resides.
Vaisha Dev- The Toothache tree of Kathmandu
The goddess of Bangemudha shrine has many names, she is called:
- Washya Dyo
- Vaisha Dev
- Danteshwori Devi
– meaning `Goddess alleviating toothache’ according to local Newari Language.
The Danteshwori Devi shrine is famous for ‘spiritual healing’ of dental ailments.
It is a nail- studded Wasyaday (bent tree) and is believed that putting a coin and hammering a nail on it cures the ailment.
The coin will be received as an offering by Vaisha Dev, who will then relieve the faithful of their toothache. The stump is covered in coins many times over, and does not look like a stump at all, being entirely subsumed by coins. The gold caved idol was however stolen years ago.
The Local people worship the toothache goddess also by offering a ‘kislin’ comprising of a clay bowl containing rice grains, betel nut and coin to the deity.
The shrine has been in existence since the period of Lichchhavi era. [This ancient kingdom existed in the Kathmandu Valley from approximately 400 to 750 CE. ]
The toothache goddess dwells in a chunk of wooden block mounted on the front of a traditional temple.
The local name Bangemudha is believed to have originated from such wooden log of Pipal tree, which literally meant as ‘crooked log’ about two hundred meters east.
The locals, particularly Newars, still make a point to go to this particular spot before going to an actual dentist, whenever they have a toothache.
A dental hub has been built right around Vaisha Dev, with any dentist worth their salt in Kathmandu opening their offices in the intersection that the tree is located in.
Not only dentists, but orthodontists also have set up shop in the area, just in case the prayers do not work. According to the ward office, there are more than 20 dental clinics at present and some of them have been providing services since the Rana period and served by more than three generations of practitioners.
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Works Cited & Multimedia Sources
- Dorjee Khando Vaishya Dev, The Toothache God—When Belief Gets You Cured
- History of Dentistry in Kathmandu https://www.nda.org.np/history.php
- Kriti Mainali, Astha Shrestha, Anisha Vaidya, Samrita Shrestha, Srikant Yadav, Nikhil Joshi. Bangemudha & Na:ghal: The Prevailing Dental History of Nepal. Dentistry of Nepal Vol. 3 No. 1. 2008.
- The toothache tree. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-toothache-tree
- more treelore here: TREES: On Tree Lore