White Matsyendranath is one of the most famous deities of Kathmandu city. In Buddhist tradition, White Matsyendranath is identified as Avalokitesbwor. He was born from the mouth of a white fish.
Once as requested by Parvati Lord Shiva took her to the platform situated in the deep sea to tell her a Supreme knowledge. There Avalokitesbwar in the form of a fish overhead to hear the supreme knowledge. After that Avalokiteshwar or White Matsyendranath or fish god got supreme knowledge of Lord Shiva. Matsya means fish and Indranath means god. So Matsyendranath means fish god.
In the early period, the lifespan of human beings was only twenty years. One day Yamaraj (the god of death) came to Kantipur to take away one individual. But obstacles appeared as the wife of that man was deeply engaged in the worship Jamalesbwar Mahadeva (Lord Shiva). She was disturbed by Yamaraj then Lord Shiva himself appeared and asked Yamaraja to extend the lifespan of the man. The Yamaraja replied that such was not in his power for this lay in the Jurisdiction of a separate god named Avalokiteshwar. Once be received supreme knowledge from the platform situated in the deep sea. In conclusion of this discourse with Yamaraja Lord Shiva request to Avalokiteshwar to appear out of the water pond near Jamaleshwar temple (nowadays Rani Pokhari). He appeared in the pond of Jamaleswar and fulfill the wishes of Lord Shiva. Jamaleshwar area is nowadays called Jamal near Ghantaghar of Kathmandu from where in the first day of the festival of White Matsyendranath is dragged to Ason on Chaitra Sukla Ashtami.
On hearing about the power of the great god, Yamaraja with all his attendants came to Kantipur to pay homage to this almighty god. When the people of the valley knew this, they with the help of their tantrics detained Yamaraja and asked him to bless the Nepalese people so that they may never know the time of death. Yamaraja replied that he could not give such blessing, but Janmadyo (God of Life) the great Avalokiteshwar or White Matsyendranath alone had the power to grant such blessing. The people of Kantipur pray Avalokiteshwar to fulfill their wishes he appeared and asked him to enshrine his image in the city. The enshrining of the image took place in the period of Hari Dutta Varma in 7th century A. D. Since that time White Matsyendranath is regarded as the god protector of Kantipur who gives food. He is generally associated with agricultural prosperity. He is also related to the lifespan of a human being. He is called Janmadyo “Janma” means the birth of life and dyo” means god. The temple of White Matsyendranath is situated inside Janabahal in Kathmandu, derived the name of Vihar from Janabadyo. White Matsyendranath is worshipped equally by the Hindu and Buddhist people of Nepal.
White Matsyendranath is the god of material prosperity who looks after the welfare of the whole population. His image is represented in a standing position which suggests he does not take rest. He will feed all living creatures. Once Lord Buddha put him to test by putting an insect inside an empty box, wrapped in many folds when later on it was opened the Buddha found to his great surprise that there was a grain of rice for the insect as its food placed by Lord White Matsyendranath inside the box.
Lord White Matsyendranath is a male god but “Yİhee” and “Baraha” of female customs of Newar are performed together with Subhaupanayan ‘Bratavandha’ Ketapuja of male customs. However, some people worship him as a female deity.