The Deities of Molela Terracotta

The Molela terracotta plaques are known for the depiction of folk and other local deities. They have been worshiped for centuries for the sacrifices they made for their village folks, their means of livelihood via camels and horses, as well as the overall security of the village. The various deities can be divided into two broad categories – the Hindu pantheon and folk. Let's delve into the fascinating world of these lesser-known deities and their significance in local cultures.


  1. Dharamraj

In the local community, Dharamraj is worshipped as Devnarayan. Dharamraj is the record-keeper of everyone’s karma, their good, and bad deeds. He also rewards or punishes people according to their own actions. Dharamraj in his human form was born to Savai bhoj and Sadhumata. His vehicle is a female horse, Booli. Unlike other Molela plaques, his plaque is not painted but left raw. People offer ghee, or clarified butter to his plaques. Along with the horse, sometimes snakes are also depicted beside his figure. According to the local folklore, it was Devarayan who came into the dreams of a blind potter, or kumhar, and asked him to make his idol.

  1. Mama deva

Mama deva is worshipped in the mountainous valleys of southern Rajasthan. His vehicle is a horse, ghoda avsari, believed to be an incarnation of the wind god or pawan deva. He is believed to be a resident of the Bheenmal region and was a Chauhan Rajput. He is worshipped as someone who was always true to his path.

  1. Khakal deva

He is worshipped as the snake king. He is often depicted with many heads. He is worshiped as a folk deity across Rajasthan, while most of his temples are situated in Gotodh- Veerpura village near Jayasamand.

  1. Pabuji

Another famous folk deity is Pabuji. He is worshipped sitting on his vehicle, a camel. He is worshiped as the protector of male and female camels. Since the wanderers often used camel as their mode of transport, the Raika-Rebari community can be seen as the most vivid worshipper of Pabuji.

  1. Kheda Devi

Durga mata is worshipped as Kheda Devi in Rajasthan. It is believed that she protects the Kheda Daandi village. Her temple is generally situated in the heart of the village, however, we can also find it on hilltops, or within thick forests.

  1. Takhaji

The Takshak Naag from Mahabharata is worshipped as Takhaji. He is worshipped as the lord of the snakes. He is worshipped as the protector of snakes.

  1. Sadhumata

Sadhumata is worshipped as the mother of Devnarayan. She gave birth to him 12 years after the death of her husband. She is often depicted with a cradle and sometimes with a lion.

  1. Bhuda mendu

Bhuda mendu is worshiped as part of the Bhagwat Gaatha. He is depicted in a standing posture. His plaques are established on the outer walls of the temples, and not within.

  1. Billa- billi

The Billa-Billi plaques are used to symbolise man and woman. They are generally not established, but used to beatify the temple walls. They are also mentioned in the Bhagwat gaatha.

  1. Ramdev ji

Ramdev ji is another famous folk deity. He is worshipped in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Malwa region. He is generally depicted riding a horse, holding spear in one hand while a sword is fastened to his waist.

  1. Kala-gora bhairav

Kala-Gora Bhairav are worshiped as folk deities in the region. They are painted with black and brown or geru colors respectively. Their vehicle, a dog, is also made in their plaques. The temples of Mewar are primarily associated with their worship. Kala-Gora Bhairav are also known as ‘Kashi ka Kotwal’.

  1. Lala-fulan

Similar to Kala-Gora Bhairav, the idols of lala-fulan are also made to symbolize man and woman. It is also worshiped as Shakti in the Mewar region.

  1. Teja ji

Teja Dholya Jaat is another prominent folk deity. His image is similar to that of Devnarayan. He is also worshipped as the lord of the snakes; hence an idol of the snake is always made along with him.

  1. Chavda mata

Chamunda Devi is worshiped as a folk deity in the form of Chavda Mata. She is depicted riding her vehicle, a lion, and is often depicted as 4-handed. She holds a trident or trishula, sword or talwar, bowl or khappar, etc in her hands.

  1. Aashapura/ aasapura maata

Aashapura mata is depicted in a way similar to Mahishasurmardini. She is depicted riding a lion and is depicted holding a trishula or trident, talwar or sword, etc in her hands. She is worshiped as aavri mata and jawar maata in Mewar region, her names vary with different regions. For example, she is worshiped as aasavara maata in aasavara village, javar maata in javar village. Sometimes she is also named based on her vehicle, for example, she is called hansa maata when she rides a hansa or swan, and Narsinghi when she rides a lion.

  1. Sheetla Mata

One of the most iconographic features of Sheetla mata is that she is depicted holding a broom, or jhaadu and is depicted riding a donkey.

  1. Rayka

Rayka is depicted as riding a camel. He is worshipped by the Rebari community. There are ballads dedicated to him for protecting the goods or deserted female camels on the grounds. Like Devnarayan, clarified butter or ghee is offered to his plaque.

  1. Radaji

The idol of Radaji is depicted as a symbol of man and nature, their symbolism and dependence. A twisted wooden stem is often depicted along with him, as the Bhopa, or the priest singers use a twisted wooden stem to beat their heads and announce the arrival of Radaji.

  1. Kheda babaji

Bhairo is worshipped as the folk deity Kheda babaji. He is worshipped as the village protector, and hence, his plaques are established outside the villages. He is also a symbol of yaksha[1].

  1. Bhoya bhoot

Bholya bhoot is an incarnation of Vir Bhadra. He is remembered as the brother of the nine goddesses or nau deviyan in the folklore of the Bhil tribe. He is primarily worshipped in Rajsamand and Khemnor villages. He is worshipped during navratris[2] and also when the rains are delayed. He is depicted riding a camel and holding a sickle.

  1. Roopan maata

The temple for Roopan mata is near the famous Haldighati. Apart from plaques, she is also worshipped in the form of torans or door hangings. She is worshipped as an epitome of womanhood.

  1. Khetla ji

The temple for Khetla ji is situated in the Saranganvas village. He is depicted in the form of Khetarpal bhairav in the lap of Devi chamunda. The common belief is that in association with the goddess Khetla, snakes always protect the village.

  1. Pathvari

Patvari is the goddess of the passages. She is worshipped for the protection of the travelers.

  1. Ganesh

Ganesha is one of the most prominent deity worshipped in the Hindu pantheon. Similar to his iconography in the Hindu tradition, he is depicted with one whole and one broken teeth, a pot belly, laddoos and his vehicle mushak. He is worshipped as the lord of muth, a tantric power.  Unlike mainstream Hindus, the adivasis/ tribals do not worship Ganesha as the first lord. However, he is worshipped at the temple doors or established in its vicinity.

  1. Gangaur

Gangaur is a festival celebrated in Rajasthan that worships Shiva-Parvati. They are generally painted in orange and blue.

  1. Dev falak/ panels of the gods and goddesses

Apart from the gods and goddesses, there are a few panels that are created for decorative purposes. Even though the themes of these panels are based on the Puranas, yet they have an appreciation for art along with beauty. The different falaks are – nav durga falak, dashavtar falak, navagraha falak, ramkatha falak and Krishna leela falak.

  • The nav durga falak is used to depict the goddess Durga in her 9 forms – shailputri, brahmacharini, chandraganta, kushmanda, skandamata, katyayini, kalratri, mahagauri and sidhidatri. Each goddess has different sittings, number of hands, and the elements that they hold in their hands.
  • The Dashavatar falak is used to depict the 10 avatars of Vishnu – Matsya, Kacchhap, Varaha, Narsimha, Vaaman, Parshuram, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki. The Dashavtar falak also has the image of four-handed Vishnu standing on a lotus.
  • The Navgraha falak is used to depict the 9 astrological elements – surya, Chandra, mangal, budh, guru, shukr, shani, rahu and ketu. [3] Surya, with his seven horses is depicted in the centre of this panel. The other planets are also shown riding their respective vehicles.
  • Ramkatha falak depicts all the important events in Ramayana.
  • Krishna leela falak depicts all the important events of the life of Shri Krishna, such as Makhan chori, Kaaliya vadh, etc.


The article is based on the information provided by our Molela artist Dinesh Molela, whose family has been practicing this craft for generations.


[1] Yakshas are super-natural beings or nature spirits in the Hindu mythology.
[2] Navratris are the nine day festival celebrated to worship the forms of goddess Durga.
[3] The sun, moon, mars, mercury, Jupiter, venus, Saturn, north and south lunar nodes.



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