Bhubaneswar: Since Vedic ages, ‘Shakti’ or the ‘Great Divine Goddess’ is worshipped all across the country as she is believed to be the personification of the divine feminine creative power.
Goddess Shakti, the Goddess of power, is said to be the complete incarnation of the Adi Shakti (the beginning and the end). During Navratri and Durga Puja, the nine avatars of Navdurga or Shakti are worshipped across the country.
Even though the festivities are low-key due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebration is on with the arrival of the festive season.
How Shakti Peethas came into existence
There are 51 Shakti Peethas across the sub-continent, where the Goddess is worshipped as manifestations of Dakshayani -Sati, later known as Parvati or Durga. Various legends explain how Shakti Peethas came into existence.
The most popular is based on the death of Goddess Sati by self-emulating at the Yagna being performed by har father Daksha. Out of grief and sorrow Shiva carried Sati’s body, reminiscing about their moments as a couple and roamed around the Universe with it.
To save the universe and bring back Shiva’s sanity, Lord Vishnu cut Sati’s lifeless body using Sudharshan Chakra into 51 pieces.
These pieces fell on earth at various places and came to be known as Shakti Peeths. All these 51 places are considered to be holy lands and pilgrimages.
Shakti Peethas in Odisha
Though there are different places where the feminine power or the Adi Shakti is worshipped, it is widely believed that three body parts of Sati fell in the land of Utkala (Odisha).
MAA TARA TARINI
Maa Tara Tarini Shrine is considered as one.of the most important places of Shakti worship and since times immemorial, the Tara Tarini Hill Shrine is an important pre-historic Shakti center.
It is considered as one amongst the four major ancient Shakti peeths of India, which draw their origin from the limbs of the Corpse of “Mata Sati” in Satya Yuga. The popular belief is that Breast of Goddess Sati fell here and hence it is revered as the Stana Peetha of Adi Shakti.
Adi Shakti Goddesses Tara Tarini have been regarded as the presiding deity (Ista-Devi) in many parts of India and in most of the households in Odisha. The historically famous Jaugada rock edict of Emperor Asoka and the pious river Rishikulya, which has been described in Rig Veda as ‘Gangayah Jyestha Bhagini’ (i.e. the elder sister of the Ganges), are also present near this holy shrine.
In India, two more places are in Odisha where the shakti peetha exists with HER power/ They are Maa Vimala at Puri and Maa Biraja at Jajpur
Biraja Temple is the one of the Ashtadasha Shakti Peethas and the 11th Shaktipeeth. The Navel region of Devi is said to have fallen here.
The present temple was built in the 13th century. The main idol is Devi Durga, who is worshiped as Viraja or Girija. The uniqueness of this goddess is that the idol is depicted as Mahishasuramardini, the Durga idol has two hands, spearing the chest of demon Mahishasura with one hand and pulling the tail with the other. One of her feet is on a lion, and the other on Mahishasura’s chest, depicted as a water buffalo.
The idol’s crown includes Ganesha, a crescent moon and a lingam.
The temple is spread in a large area, and has shrines for Shiva and other deities. According to the Skanda Purana, it cleans the pilgrims and is called Viraja or Biraja kshetra. Jajpur is said to have about a crore of Shiva Lingams. The shrine for Lord Shiva is said to have been installed by Adi Shankaracharya.
Another significance aspect of this temple is – a well near the main temple of Girija Devi in which devotees perform ritual rites to their ancestors (Pinda pradhaan). People believe that these Pindas will reach Kasi directly. It seems the depth of the well is somewhere around 4 to 5 feet but it has never dried up.
Another important Shakti Peetha is Maa Bimala temple inside the temple premises of Lord Jagannath at Puri, at the south west corner beside the Rohini Kund.
It is believed that the feet (Pada Khanda) of Goddess Sati fell here.
The temple, though small is constructed in the shape of Lord’s temple.. Maa Vimala is considered to be the Tantric Consort of Lord/ Jagannath.
It is staunchly believed that devotees should pay their respects to the goddess Bimala before worshipping Jagannath in the main temple. Everyday the Prasad of Lord Jagannath is re-offered to goddess Bimala in a golden plate. It is then that the Prasad gets sanctified as Mahaprasad for the consumption of the devotees. Without her approval nothing moves inside the main temple of the Lord.
The only time in the year when separate food is cooked for the goddess is when she is offered non-vegetarian offerings during Durga Puja.
Durga Puja is celebrated for sixteen days at Vimala temple and Mother is adorned with various dresses during the celebrations. It ends with Vijaya dashami.