Shrines of Shakti
Legends behind most powerful Shakti Shrines all across Bharat, speak of an inherent lineage of reverence, respect and admiration towards female form of divinity.
Jammu and Kashmir Maa Vaishno Devi, Katra
As per the legend, during the period when the Goddess was busy in annihiliating the Asuras, Her three main manifestations viz. Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Saraswati got together one day and pooled their collective Tejas or spiritual strength, a beautiful young girl emerged out of this Tejas. She was born in the house of ardent devotees of Durga. The couple named the girl child as Vaishnavi.
Soon, her glory spread far and wide, and people began to flock to her Ashram to seek her blessings. Bhairon Nath on locating the ashram started observing Vaishnavi secretly. Bhairon Nath was enamored by Vaishnavi’s extraordinary beauty, and losing all good sense he began to pester Vaishnavi to marry him. Meanwhile a staunch devotee Shridhar organised a Bhandara (Community meal) in which the whole village along with Bhairon were invited. During the course of Bhandara, Bhairon Nath attempted to grab Vaishnavi but she tried her best to daunt him.
Maa Shailputri (1st Day Pratipada)
On the first day of the festival, the Goddess is venerated as Shailputri which means the daughter (putri) of the mountains (shaila). A form of Shakti and the consort of Lord Shiva, she i embodies the power of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The goddess is variously known as Sati Bhavani, Parvati or Hemavati. It is customary to wear red coloured clothes on this day.
The Goddess after halting at (present day) Banganga, Charan Paduka, and Adhkwari, finally reached the holy cave Shrine. When Bhairon Nath continued to follow her, the Goddess was compelled to kill him. Bhairon Nath met his ultimate fate when the Goddess, just outside the mouth of the cave, beheaded him. Bhairon Nath upon death realised the futility and prayed to the deity to forgive him. The almighty Mata (Mother Goddess) had mercy on Bhairon and gave him a boon that every devotee of the Goddess would have to have the Darshans of Bhairon after having the Darshans of the Goddess and only then would the yatra of a devotee be complete. Meanwhile, Vaishnavi decided to shed off her human form and assuming the face of a rock she immersed her self into meditation forever. Thus Vaishnavi, in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock with three heads or the Pindies on the top is the ultimate destination of a devotee. These Pindies constitute the Sanctum Sanctorum of the holy cave known as the shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, which is revered by one and all.
|In Kashmir, Hindus celebrate Navratri in a subtle manner. Devotees fast for nine days on water and perform puja at home. In an important ritual, devotees go to Maa Kher Bhawani, a prominent deity, who is said to warn her devotees about impending catastrophe by turning the nearby lake water into black.
Here, dance and music is avoided as believers devote time in prayer and contemplation of the Goddess. At some places, barley is grown in earthen pots. It is believed that if the growth of barley is good, then the year would bring luck, peace and prosperity
Himanchal Pradesh Jwala Devi, Kangra
Sati’s tongue fell at Jwalaji and the goddess is manifest as a flame that burns flawless blue through fissures in the age-old rock.
Brahmacharini (2nd Day Dwitiya)
The Goddess manifests as Brahmacharini on the second day. The name of the Goddess means one who practices devout austerity. A form of Uma or Parvati, the Goddess grants happiness, prosperity and moksha (emancipation). It is customary to wear blue coloured clothes on this day.
Listening to the rising name and fame of the auspicious and miraculous constantly running Jyotis, the famous Dhyanu Bhakt also came to this destination. The king of that time, i.e. Akbar was informed of the same and he summoned Dhyanu Bhakt in this court. The general accused him of raising his head in the regime of King and calling himself bigger than King Akbar. To this Dhyanu bhakt replied that Maa Jwala as the biggest of all
King Akbar wanted to test the powers of Mata Jwalaji. Dhyanu called himself a very small Bhakt/devotee of Mata Jwalaji and that he could not. The general suggested to cut off the head of the horse his was riding to Mata Jwala and if the powers of Mata Jwala were authentic, She would put the head back on.
Dhyanu Bhagat proceeded further and upon reaching Mata Jwalaji Temple, pleaded for Her kripa. She, the almighty knew all and he begged Her to fix the head of his horse and later his own head, and make it alive again and also that he would then be able to answer King Akbar for the sinful act he did to test her powers.
The beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh celebrates Navratri with utmost devotion. Navratri is a time when people meet up with their relatives to collectively pay their respect to the Almighty. It is the most important festival for the Hindus of Himachal. The tenth day of this grand festive season is called Kullu Dusshera in the state. Unlike other states, the festival begins in Himachal when it ends elsewhere. People mark this day to rejoice the return of victorious Lord Rama to Ayodhya. Songs and dance are common ways to express devotion and exhibitions of various items are set-up. On Dusshera or Dashami, the deities from the temples of the village are taken out in processions.
She was Maa and appeared immediately and put the head of Her divotee back on his torso and gave him life again. Over there in Delhi, with the kripa of Maa Jwala, the head of the horse also got attached to the torse and got alive. To this the amazed Akbar still did not want to believe in the powers of Maa Jwala and sent his general again to Jwalaji to test her presence in this world. The general tried to extinguish the jyotis by putting various thick sheets of iron on top. However the powerful and miraculous jyotis of Maa Jwala came above tearing the iron sheets.
The general hard to accept and with grief, reported the same to Akbar who realised his mistake of testing Maa's powers. He realised that he should have never done such a deed of sin. He decided then to walk barefeet to Maa Jwalaji and offer a sava mann (one and a quarter quintal) Chhattar of Gold as an apology. Maa Jwala Devi refused to accept the same as the Golden Chhattar turned immediately dark to an unknown metal or alloy. Seeing this Akbar fell on his feet and begged for forgiveness for the sin of testing Maa Jwala. Maa is said to have forgiven Akbar.
This chhattar is still kept in the temple compound towards the left side as a momento. Upon testing the same in the modern world, the Chhattar is an alloy comprised of various common and uncommon metals.
Uttarakhand Naina Devi, Nainital
In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, the Dasara festival starts with the performance of Ramlila which is unique as it is based on the musical rendering of the katha or story of Lord Ram. It is based on the theatrical traditions set by Uday Shankar during his stay in Almora; these traditions were further enriched by Mohan Upreti and Brijendra Lal Sah. Known as the Almora or Kumaon style, Ramlila has been recognised by UNESCO in its 2008 report as one of the representative styles of Ramlila in Bharat.
Chandraghanta (3rd Day Tritiya)
Worshipped as Chandraghanta, the Goddess represents beauty and bravery. She is called Chandraghanta because of the chandra or half moon on her forehead in the shape of a ghanta or bell.
The Punjabis have a unique way of paying obeisance to Goddess Shakti. Most of the people in Punjab go on a fast for the first seven days. They also organise a jagraata (keeping awake whole night by singing devotional songs dedicated to the Goddess). On the eighth day or Ashtami, the fast is broken by organising a bhandara for 9 young girls (Kanjika). A bhandara usually means a feast that includes puris and halawa chana. The girls are also gifted with a red chunri. The ninth day is then called Navami which means literally the ninth day of this holy and pious period. On both the days people ceremonially wash girl’s feet, worship them and then offer food to the 'girl-goddesses' giving them the traditional puri, halwa and chana to eat, along with bangles and the red chunnis to wear with a token amount of money as shagun.
Punjab Durgiana Tirath, Amritsar
The Temple is pious, as its soil is said to be visited by Lord Rama, Maryada Purshottam, Luv and Kush spent their childhood along with their mother Mata Sita on this soil in the Ashram of Maharishi Valmiki. King Ishvaku Grandson of Surya Devta performed a number of Yajnas on this land.
Kushmanda (4th Day Chaturthi)
On the fourth day, the goddess is venerated as Kushmanda. According to legends, Goddess Kushmanda created the universe through her laughter. The Goddess is often depicted as having eight or 10 hands. Devouts often wear yellow coloured clothes on this day.
Karni Mata Mandir, Bikaner
Legend: Popularly known as Rat Temple, at Karni Mata temple in Rajasthan, rats aren't shooed away — they're worshipped. Thousands of the rodents scurry across the temple's checkerboard floors, getting tangled in each other's tails and fighting for access to huge saucers of milk. Far from being regarded as vermin, the rats are venerated as the holy descendants of Karni Mata, who was worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga during the 15th century.
Significance : The story of how Karni Mata's offspring took the form of rodents has a few variations, but the most common version begins with her asking Yoma, the god of death, to revive a storyteller's drowned son. After first resisting, Yoma gave in, promising that the boy and all of Karni Mata's male descendants would be reincarnated as rats.
Shri Arasuri Ambaji Shakti Pith is one of them where the heart of Devi Sati fell at the top of the Gabbar, as described in scripture Tantra Chudamani.
Origin of Navratri Festival: As per Mahabharat, on the Full Moon Day Purnima of the month of Bhadrapad (Bhadarva Mas) Princess Rukshamani had worshiped her Kul- Devi Mata Ambika on the mountain of Gabbar Hill, in order to invite her beloved Lord Krishna, to abduct her from her swayamvar to marry and Mata Ambika gave her a boon to achieve her goal to marry Lord Krishna, as against the wish of her brother and relatives and other kings. And Princess Rukshamani wedded with the Lord Krishna and became Pat-Rani, the main Queen and had celebrated the well known Indian Festival of Navratri, for the first time on this earth, in the Garbh- Deep Nrutya in Gujarati Garba Style, with her friends & relatives in Dwarka.
Gujarat’s Navratri Festival, is “a circle of ecstasy” that throbs non-stop for nine nights with millions of fantastically costumed devotees swaying in a fusion of dance and devotion. Although this festival is celebrated throughout Bharat, nowhere is it performed with more panache and fervor than in Gujarat. The first three days of Navratri are attributed to tamo guna (it leads to depression, fear and emotional instability) the second three to rajo guna (this leads to anxiety and feverishness) and the last three days to sattva guna (when Sattva dominates then we are clear, focused, peaceful and dynamic). Human consciousness sails through the tamo and rajo gunas and blossoms in the sattva guna of the last three days. The three primeval gunas are considered as the feminine force of our magnificent universe. A legendary unique folk dance form also has variations with Dandia or stick Raas.
The celebrations of Navratri in Ahmedabad bring in a lot of visitors from across the world.
Skandamata (5th Day Panchami)
The Goddess is venerated as Skand Mata on the fifth day. Skanda or Lord Kartikeya led the army of the gods against the demons. The goddess is depicted holding an infant Skanda in her arm. One should wear green coloured clothes on this day.
Mahakali Temple, Ujjain
The Maha Kali (Hara Sidhi Mata) was the aradhana devi of The great King Vikramaditya. It is said that King Vikramaditya has offered his head by cutting 11 times to Devi and all those times Devi made him live by jointing it back. We will find his portrait a hall next to the temple. This temple occupies a special place in the galaxy of ancient sacred spots of Ujjain. Seated between the idols of Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati, the idol of Annapurna is painted in dark vermilion colour. The Sri Yantra, the symbol of power or shakti, is also enshrined in the temple. According to the Shiva Purana, when Shiva carried away the burning body of Sati from the sacrificial fire, her elbow dropped at this place. There is an interesting legend in the Skanda Purana about the manner in which the Goddess Chandi acquired the epithet of Harsiddhi. Once when Shiva and Parvati were alone on Mount Kailash, two demons called Chand and Prachand tried to force their way in. Shiva called upon Chandi to destroy them which she did. Pleased, Shiva bestowed upon her the epithet of ‘one who vanquishes all’. The temple was reconstructed during the Maratha period and the two pillars adorned with lamps are special features of Maratha art. These lamps, lit during Navaratri, present a glorious spectacle. There is an ancient well on the premises, and an artistic pillar adorns the top of it.
Mahalaxmi Mandir, Kolhapur
According to popular legends, Mahalakshmi left Vaikuntha and arrived at Kolhapur on hearing that Lord Venkatesh (Vishnu) her beloved husband failed to take action against sage Bhrigu for his horrific behaviour towards him. An angry Mahalakshmi is said to have observed strict penance in Kolhapur for several years until upon hearing the news of her husband being married to Tirumala Padmavati, another avatar of Mahalaskhmi. The greatness of this region has therefore attracted many sages and devotees, the blessings and affections showered by this region on its devotees are immeasurable. It is believed that Prabhu Shri Dattatreya still comes here every noon to seek alms.
The deity of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is made of gemstone and is considered to be at least 5000 to 6000 years old. It weighs about 40 kilos. The precious stones that adorn the deity indicate the antiquity of the deity. The platform of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is made of stone. The deity of the Goddess has four arms.
Women celebrating saumangalyam
Maharashtra celebrates Navratri with great fun and revelry. The puja is performed daily by adorning the deity with fresh garland on each of the nine days. On the tenth day, the garlands are removed and the idol is immersed in the sea. People invite young girls, who have not attained puberty to their house and offer them food of their choice. For the Maharashtrians, Navratri is an auspicious time to initiate new beginnings. Women invite their female friends to their homes and gift them with a coconut, beetle leaves and beetle nuts. They put haldi and kumkum on the foreheads of the married women as a gesture of ‘Sauman-galyam’ (remaining the wife of her husband until her last breath). Each and every locality has its own Garba and Dandiya nights celebrations and the whole family drenches itself in the festive spirit.
Katyayani (6th Day Sashti)
On the sixth day, the Goddess Durga is worshipped as Katyayani. According to popular belief associated with the goddess, the venerated sage Kata performed severe austerities to beget the goddess as his daughter. Impressed with his penance, the goddess granted the sage his boon. The daughter born to Kata came to be known as Katyayani. It is customary to wear grey coloured clothes on this day.
Chamundi Temple, Mysore
Chamundi Hill is about 13 kms from Mysore, in Karnataka. A top of the hill the famous Sri Chamundeswari Temple.
She is the tutelary deity of the Mysore Maharajas and the presiding deity of Mysore. For several centuries they have held the Goddess, Chamundeswari, in great reverence.
Skanda Purana and other ancient texts mention a sacred place called Trimuta Kshetra surrounded by eight hills. Lying on the western side is the Chamundi Hills, one among the eight hills.This is the oldest temple on the hills.In the later days, the hill came to be known as Chamundi Hills in honour of the Goddess Chamundi, the chief subject of the Devi Mahatmya. The Goddess is believed to be an incarnation of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. A large number of devotees from all over the country and from abroad visit the temple every year.
The way people spend these nine nights are absolutely historic in nature, for they follow the same trend which was followed by the great Vijayanagara dynasty. It’s called Naada Habba in the state. However, the basic reason for the celebrations remains the same—victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasur, who happened to be a resident of Mysore. The celebrations include procession of elephants on the streets. Fairs and exhibitions of handicrafts and artifacts are common feature.
Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple, Thrissur,
The Bhagawati Temple at Kodungallur is of great renown throughout the state of Kerala. It is quite interesting to learn Bhagwati Temple of Goddess Kali was dedicated to Lord Siva in the beginning, and later a majestic six – foot high wooden image of Kali facing the north was installed Legends say that Lord Parashurama sensed Goddess Kalis presence at a place about 500 meters south of the present temple. He offered Poojas. It is believed that the Goddess herself suggested that the type of Pooja done by Parushurama need be repeated only once in a year. The unique peculiarity of this temple is the Secret Chamber. The closed chamber in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the shrine is widely believed to be the divine Sakthi Kendra of this temple. It is on the eastern side of the sanctum sanctorum of Bhagavathy. The sanctum and secret chamber have a common wall. The Secret chamber is closed all around with granite and on the top there is a roof.
Unlike Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Kerala celebrates only the last three days of Navratri. Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashmi are of utmost importance for the Keralites. This South Indian State that tops the literacy rate in the country, considers these three days as the most auspicious time to initiate learning. They place books, musical instruments (if any) in front of Goddess Saraswati’s idol on the day of Ashtami. The books are worshipped and people pray to the Goddess for granting them wisdom and knowledge. On the tenth day, the books are taken out for reading. Durga Puja is the onset of starting formal education of children aged 3-5 years. Ayudya Puja is celebrated on ashtami, the eighth day of Navratri, during which the tools available in home are worshipped. It is a local custom to not use any tool on this day. On Navami, the books and records symbolising Goddess Saraswati are worshipped. The Saraswati Temple at Kottayam is a major attraction during this period as devotees throng to take a dip in the mysterious holy pond whose source is yet unknown. At Thekkegram in Palghat, there are no idols but mirrors which reflect the image of the devotee.
Kaalratri (7th Day Saptami)
The Goddess is worshipped as Kaalratri on the seventh day. As black as a dark night, the Goddess has a dark complexion, disheveled hair aggressive posture. The Goddess assures protection from fear and troubles. Unlike other forms of Durga which are depicted riding a lion, goddess Kaalratri rides a donkey.
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
Legend: According to the legend, on the day the Madurai was to be named, Lord Shiva blessed the land and its people while divine nectar showered from his dreadlocked hair. The city hence came to be known as Madhurapuri—the City of Divine Nectar.
Legend has it that the reigning deity Meenakshi was born out of holy fire as an answer to the prayers of King Malayadwaja and his wife Kanchanamalai. She married Lord Shiva and both ruled the city of Madurai as Lord Sundareshwar and Goddess Meenakshi. It is also believed that Lord Indra founded the temple when he found a Suyambu Lingam. There’s also mention about the temple in ancient Tamil literature through.
Maa Maha Gauri (8th Ashtami)
Tamil Nadu adds a regional touch to the celebrations. Women belonging to the Iyer community invite married women to their homes in the evenings and gift them with accessories like bangles, earrings and other items that are symbolic of their marital status. These are suggestive of prayers for their husbands and their long lives. A special recipe called Sundal made of lentil seeds and pulses is made on each day and served to the guests. Some people also display a Golu at their homes. Golu is an arrangement made on a make-shift staircase with nine stairs.
Taratarini Temple, Ganjam
Goddesses Tara-Tarini have been regarded as the presiding deity(Ista-Devi)in much of Orissa. This important and famous Shakti Peetha is situated on a hill top at a distance of 30 Kms towards north of Brahmapur on the south bank of river Rushikulya. The height of the hill is approximately 708ft. and the total area spreading over 180 acres of land. The hill is popularly known as Tara Tarini Hill and is surrounded by natural beauty.
According to the Puranas the origin of Maa Taratarini is directly attributed to Daksha Prajapati’s Yajna in Satya Yuga. The famous Shakta Peethas of Bimala, Taratarini, Dakshina Kalika and Kamakshi originated from the limbs of the divine Corpse of Devi Sati. Mythological sacred texts like the Shiva Purana, the Kalika Purana abd the Devi Bhagavata Purana (a contemporary text of the Mahabharata written by Shri Vyasa Dev around 6000 years ago) attest this fact.
Vijoya Dashami or Dussehra is celebrated as Durga Puja in two different ways in Odisha. In Shakti Peethas or temples of the Goddesses, the Durga Puja is observed with rituals for a period of 10 to 16 days, known as Shodasa Upachara. The Goddess Durga is also worshipped by devotees in different pandals throughout the state. The pandals are beautifully decorated. The last day of the Sharodiya Durga Puja is known as Vijayadashami. After the last ritual Aparajita Puja is performed to the goddess, a tearful farewell is offered to her.
Women offer Dahi-Pakhal (cooked rice soaked in water, with curd), Pitha (baked cakes), Mitha (sweets) and fried fish to the Goddess. The Durga Puja festivities are also prominent in Maa Katak Chandi Temple. Maa Cuttack Chandi is the presiding deity of Cuttack. The goddess popularly called as Maa Katak Chandi, sits and rules on the heart of the ancient city. She is worshipped as Bhuvaneswari. Maa Chandi is worshipped in various incarnations of Durga during the puja.
Kanak Durga Temple, Vijaywada
The temple of Kanaka Durga the Goddess of power, riches and benevolence and the presiding deity of Vijayawada, is swarmed by lakhs of pilgrims for worship during the Navratri festival which is celebrated with Religious fervour, pomp and festivity. The small but ancient temple of Kanaka Durga, a top the Indrakeeladri Hill on the banks of the sacred river Krishna in Vijayawada abounds with legends of historical interest.
The presiding deity in this temple is Goddess Parvathi in the divine form of Kanaka Durga Devi. She is seen seated on a lion with eight hands holding trident, bow, sword, hunter-like rope and discus. She is seen in a Mahishasura Mardhini form as if she has just arrived after killing a demon called Mahishasura. If she is seen here as a Mahishasura Mardhini then why do we call Her and worship Her in the form of Kanaka Durga Devi? When Goddess killed Mahishasura, a demon and came to be known as Mahishasura Mardhini. She then came to reside here on Indrakeeladri. She was shining in golden hue with the glow of thousand cores of sun-gods. Indri saw Her shining in golden hue with eight arms holding weapons in Her hands. They all hailed Her as Kanaka Durga. Since then Goddess Durga in the divine form of Mahishasura Mardhini is known as Kanaka Durga Devi.
Significance : The legend says that Indrakeela, a shaakteya devotee, did great penance and when Goddess appeared, he requested her to be present on him. Then Goddess Kanaka Durga asked him to assume the form of a mountain and after killing Mahishaasura, she resided on the Indrakeeladri. On the request of the other Gods, Goddess Durga killed the demon Durgama. At that time she has been described to have been in the golden colour. So the Gods praised her as Kanaka Durga. In Dwaapara Yuga, Arjuna, one among the Pandavas, did great penance on this mountain (Indrakeeladri) for Lord Shiva in order to get the most powerful astra called Paashupataastra. Later, Lord Shiva appeared to fulfil the desire of Arjuna and called him as Vijaya (victorious).
Siddhidatri (9th Day Navami )
Siddhidatri is the ninth form of the Goddess. It is believed she embodies all the eight siddhis. According to Hindu mythology, Shiva worshipped the goddess and was blessed with all the siddhis. Lord Shiva acquired the form of Ardhanarishvara because of the blessings of the Goddess. It is customary to wear pink colour clothes on this day.
|‘Batukamma Panduga’ is celebrated during Navratri in Andhra Pradesh, especially in the Telangana region. ‘Batukamma Panduga’ means ‘Come Alive Mother Goddess’. These nine days are dedicated to shakti and are celebrated in a very unique way. Women prepare ‘Batukamma’ which is actually a beautiful flower stack, arranged with seasonal flowers, in seven layers. It is made to look like a pot made of flowers. Batuku in Telugu means life and Amma, as we all know, means mother. So, this festival is devoted to celebrating universal motherhood. Women wear silk sarees and gold ornaments and make the most of these nine days.
After preparing their respective Batukamma’s, women gather in the evening for the ritual. They place them in the centre and dance around them by singing folk songs dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Then they march towards a lake or any other water body and set afloat their Batukammas.
Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, Kolkata
Rasmani was born in a poor family. From a very young age she was devoted to Goddess kali. She grew up into a beautiful young woman. A rich landlord from Kolkata observed her beauty and decided to marry her. And so Rasmani became the wife of Rajchandra Das and a rich woman overnight. For years they lived happily and had four daughters. After her husband’s death, the management of the estate fell on Rasmani’s shoulders. She managed everything with patience, intelligence and love. Her courage and fearlessness came from her devotion to Kali.
In the year 1847, Rani Rasmani decided to go upon a long pilgrimage to Benaras to express her devotions to the Divine Mother. Rani was to travel in twenty four boats, carrying relatives, servants and supplies. But the night before the pilgrimage began Goddess Kali appeared to Rani in a dream and said: ” Why do you go all the way to Benaras to see me? There is no need. Install my image on the banks of the Ganga and I shall manifest myself in that image and accept your daily worship “.
Profoundly affected by the dream, Rani cancelled her pilgrimage and decided to construct the temple. The construction work was completed in 1855. It took eight years and a lot of expense for the temple to be finally completed. The 12- spired temple with its enormous courtyard is surrounded by 12 other temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. A lovely black image of Kali was made of basalt and finally the installation of the image took place on 31st may, 1855. Rani decided to bring all people together regardless of caste, creed and religion. And so temple gates were open to all.
The first priest of Dakshineswar temple was Ramkumar. A year after the temple opening, Ramkumar died leaving the temple responsibility to his brother Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Guru of Swami Vivekananda. From then until his death 30 years later in 1886, Ramakrishna was responsible for bringing much in the way of both fame and pilgrims to the temple.
In eastern states of Bharat, especially in Bengal, the Durga Puja is the principal festival during Navaratri. It is celebrated with gaiety and devotion through public ceremonies of Sarbojanin Puja or community worship. Huge decorative temporary structures called pandals are constructed to house these grand prayer services, followed by mass feeding, and cultural functions. The earthen icons of Goddess Durga, accompanied by those of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikya, are taken out on the tenth day in a triumphal procession to the nearby river, where they are ceremonially immersed. Bengali ladies give an emotion-charged send-off to Durga amidst ululations and drumbeats. This marks the end of the goddess’ brief visit to the earth. As Durga leaves for Mount Kailash, the abode of her husband Shiva, it’s time for Bijoya or Vijayadashami, when people visit each other’s homes, hug each other and exchange sweets.
The last four days of Sharad Navratri take on a particularly dramatic form in the state of West Bengal in East Bharat where they are celebrated as Durga Puja. This is the biggest festival of the year in this state.
Vindhyachal Temple, Mirzapur
Shrimad Devi Bhagwatam has given special importance and special mention to Vindhyavasini Shakti Peeths out of its 108 Shaktipeeths. Every years lakhs of devotees from every corner of India come here of both the Navratri. Thousands of saints come to Vindhyachal Dham and Vindhya mountains for performing 9 days penance and meditation. Every day the temple has huge crowd of devotees.
Many scriptures state that there is no other shrine as pure as Vindhyachal elsewhere in the universe. The 3 supreme powers Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali and Maha Saraswati reside at this place.
Devi Parvati had performed meditation at this place for Lord Shiva and got the name Aparna. Lord Rama performed Shraadh – Tarpan of his ancestors at Ramganga Ghat and established the Rameshwaram Linga. He also established the Ramkunda here in Vindhyachal . Lord Vishnu received Sudarshan Chakra from Lord Shiva at this place.
Vindhyachal is situated on the Mahalalakshmi Yantra which is circled with mountain is considered as the land of power. It is a very significant place out of the 108 Shakti Peetha and 12 Maha Peeths. According to legend back of Sati had fell at this place. This place has multiple virtues.
Vindhyachal is called as Shaktipeeth, Siddhipeeth and Manidweep in scriptures.
Bimleshwari Temple, Dongarhgarh
Roughly 2200 years ago, Dongargarh was a fairly renounced territory named Kamavati ruled by Maharaja Kamsen also called Kamakhya Nagri. When his Queen gave birth to a son they named him Madansen. Since Raja Veersen considered it a blessing of Lord Shiva & Parvati, he constructed the temple of Maa Bamleshwari at Dongargarh.
Pateneshwari Temple, Patna
There is a tradition fondly believed that some portion of the thigh of Sati and the pat (cloth) fell in Magadh near Maharajganj and Chowk, from which Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Maha Saraswati came into existence. It is also believed that the names of the goddesses Bari Patan Devi and Choti Patan Devi are derived from the pat, which fell at Maharajganj and Chowk.
It has been mentioned in Tantra Chudamani that the right thigh of Sati fell in Magadha and it is supposed that the places where it fell are Maharajganj and Chowk where we now have the temples of Bari Patan Devi and Choti Patan Devi.
Many say the name of Patna city is derived from Patan Devi herself. In the temple of Bari Patan Devi the three small images of the three goddesses viz., Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and MahaSaraswati are the legendary three presiding guardian deities who protected Putraka, the founder of Pataliputra, as is mentioned in Kathasarit Sagar. In a tank near the temple was found a peculiar stone image. It has been kept in a niche in the eastern verandah of the temple and is now worshipped as a goddess.
Durga Puja is one of the major festivals in Bihar. Hundreds of pandals are set up with carnivals. The city witnesses a huge surge in visitors in the four days from Maha Saptami. More than 100 exhibits, known as Pandals are setup across the city. Ancient Places of Patna Durga Puja includes Bari and Chhoti Patan Devi, Maa Shitla Mandir Agamkuan etc. Some of the popular puja pandals include New Dak Bunglow Road, Shiv Mandir Khajpura, Shri Krishna Puri, Durga Ashram etc. In Purnea district which has a significance number of Bengali population organises many Durga Puja but the most famous one is by Bhatta Durga Bari Samiti established in 1924. They conduct many cultural and educational competition since Sashti till Navami.
Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati
Kamakhya Temple, Assam is one among the 52 Shakti Peeths of India. Kamakhya Temple is situated at the top of Ninanchal Hill (800 feet above sea level) in the Western part of Guwahati city. There is no image of Shakti here. Within a corner of the cave in the temple, there is sculptured image of the yoni of the goddess, which is the object of reverence. The place where the uterus of Sati fell was not known till Kamadeva, the God of love, searched it out to rid himself of a curse by Brahma. He regained his rupa (beauty) here after worshiping in this peetha. Since Kamadeva regained his rupa here the entire place is called Kamarupa (Kamrup) and the deity is known as Kamakhya or one worshipped by Kama. The second legend goes that Narakasur, the demon king of Pragjyotishpur (The ancient name of Guwahati according to mythological inscriptions) charmed by the mesmerising beauty of Devi Kamakhya, fell in love with her and proposed her to marry him. Devi Kamakhya in order to ward off the demon, put a condition before him. that she would marry him only if he constructed a temple for her within a span of one night. Narakasur buoyed by the prospect of being in wedlock with the Goddess, started in his endeavour to construct the temple. He was almost successful in his quest when Devi realised the threat and deceived the demon by bringing a hen and making it to cry out declaring the onset of morning. Narakasur realised that he was deceived and ran after the hen to kill it. After much ado he caught the hen and killed it in a place called Kukurakata (a place where hens are slaughtered). Thus the temple was constructed by Narakasur. (Compiled by Divyansh Dev)
The Kalka Temple which stands today was rebuilt soon after Aurangzeb’s death (1707 A.D.) on the remains of the old temple dedicated to Goddess Kali.
Since 1764, the temple has been renovated and altered several times but the main 18th Century structure remains the same, more or less .The site is very old dating back to Emperor Asoka’s time (3rd Century BC). There is mention of Kalka Temple in the Maratha records of 1738 as well.
All through those centuries, people flock to the temple in large numbers, especially during Navratras.
The legend which tells about the circumstances attending to the birth of Maa Kalika Devi is as below :
“Millions of years ago, the gods who dwelt in the neighbourhood of the present temple were troubled by two giants and were compelled to prefer their complaint to Lord Brahma, ‘the god of all’.
But Lord Brahma declined to interfere, and referred them to the goddess Parvati. Out of the mouth of Maa Parvati sprung Kaushki Devi, who attacked the two giants and slaughtered them, but it so happened, that as their blood fell on the dry earth thousands of giants came into life, and the battle was maintained by Kaushki Devi against great odds.
Maa Parvati took compassion on her offspring and out of the eyebrows of Kaushki Devi came maa Kali Devi, whose lower lip rested on the hills below and the upper lip touched the sky above. She drank the blood of the slaughtered giants as it poured out of their wounds; and the goddess obtained a complete victory over their enemies.” Maa Kalika Devi then fixed her abode here, and she was worshiped as the chief divinity of the place.
In Delhi including Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it is traditional to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navratri. On the day of Dussehra, the nine-day old sprouts (called noratras or nortas or of nav ratris or nine nights) are used as symbols of luck. Men place them in their caps or behind their ears. In most of the colonies of Delhi, Dasha-Hara is seen being celebrated with utter faith and in honor of Rama. During these 10 days many plays and dramas based on Ramayana are performed. These are called Ramlila. The name of the festival is changed, this becomes Navratras instead of Navratri. There is a prevalent practice is of sowing pulses, cereals and other seeds on the first day of this festival in a pot which is watered for nine days at the end of which the seeds sprout. This pot is worshiped throughout the nine days and is known as Khetri. After the pooja, on the tenth day, these seedlings or the Khetri as this is referred to be submerged in water preferably in Yamuna.