Bhubaneswar: Today on the Rath Yata, the huge chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are drawn by devotees on the Bada Danda, to the Gundicha temple, some two miles away to the North of ‘Shree Mandira’. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode.
The Mausi Maa temple is situated at the mid-way of the Bada danda (Grand road) of Puri. It is a small temple dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.
As per Jagannath mythology, once Goddess Lakshmi Devi left Shree Mandira, and thus Jagannath and Balabhadra become poor and had to go out to seek alms. When Jagannath and Balabhadra were out during that time, Subhadra Devi was staying with Mausi Maa (Maternal Aunt).
Mausi Maa is also termed as Ardhashosini.
It has been mentioned in the Vaisanava Kanda of the Skanda Purana that Goddess Ardhashosini drank half of the sea water that flooded Puri and saved the abode of Shri Jagannath. Goddess Ardhashosini with Kapalamochana Shiva, act as the guardians of the Shree Kshetra – Puri.
Mausima temple is facing towards south and closely associated with the Car festival of Lord Jagannath.
As per the rituals of Car Festival, on the day of Bahuda Jatra (return car festival day), the chariots of Balabhadra and Subhadra are pulled directly to the Singha Dwara (Lion’s Gate of Jagannth Temple), whereas the chariot of Jagannath stops in front of Mausima temple for a while.
Here, Lord Jagannath is offered with their favourite Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake made in lentils and rice.
Similarly, the Gundicha Temple where the Lords stay for seven days, has some interesting legends related to it. One legend says that Gundicha was the queen of the King Indradyumna, the legendary founder of the first great Jagannath temple. It is because of the deep devotion of the queen Gundicha, Lord Jagannath and his siglings prefer to pay a visit to her house for nine days during Car Festival.
Another legend says that Gundicha temple is Yagnya Vedi which is the birth place of Chaturddha Murtty (Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Maa Subhadra and Sudarsan).
The Skanda Purana glorifies the sanctity of the Rath Jatra in the following words:
‘Gundicha mandapam namam yatrahamajanam pura, Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat‘ – “Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed. ”
The Gundicha temple is regarded as equally holy as the Jagannath temple.