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Chaitya is a Sanskrit word still utilized in the Nepalese context by Newari Buddhist Followers. Chaitya is a word commonly used for “Stupa” by Newari Buddhist followers. Many Countries uses the word “Stupa” and is common, however, in Nepal, people still use word Chaitya.

Chaitya actually refers to the shrine or temple or holy place for prayers by Buddhist followers. Chaitya prevailed in Nepal from the early 6th century. The term ‘Chaitya’ was first used with the reference of the Lichchhivi Dynasty as ‘Lichchhivichaitya’ or used describing the composition of the small structures Chaitya.

Chaitya (Stupa) in Nepal
Chaitya (Stupa) in Nepal

Chaitya in Newar Buddhism

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Chaitya is a flexible word used in the Newari context explaining Nepalese Buddhist style temple. Even one of the world’s most famous temple that is listed in UNESCO- Temple Swayambhunath is never called as Swayambhunath by Newari Buddhist followers but it is called at ‘Maha-Chaitya’, which literally means ‘Great Chaitya’. Swayambhunath is also a Sanskrit word which means it was self-created Chaitya (Stupa). One of great Newari Scholar Hemraj Sakya, explains various types of chaitya. The term such as Catuvychchaitya, Sikharakutachaitya, Padmavlichaitya, Jvalavalichaitya, Julaharyuparisumeruchaitya is different from other important Buddhist Chaitya that was commonly used for Chaitya taken from Hemraj Sakya and Amrtananda. The chaitya ‘Sumeruchaitya’was common only after 1854 invented itself.

Swayambhunath is known as Maha Chaitya in Newar Language
Swayambhunath is known as Maha Chaitya in Newar Language
There is another chaitya named ‘Astakonachaitya’ which is named after the structure of Chitya. It is an octagonal variation of Sikharakutachitya. It is believed that it was formed with the lotus blossom unfold thousands of leaves ‘Padmavali’.

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