Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Biraja Peetha

Hi Readers,

I welcome you today to yet another pilgrimage of Orissa, the Biraja Peetha or Biraja temple, Jajpur. I visited this temple recently along with my visit to Akhandalamani temple. This temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peetha's where a portion of Goddess Sati had fall on earth.  Below is a picture of the main entrance.

The 51 Shakti Peeths are specifically sanctified spots, where a particular portion of the great Goddess's body fell to earth when Sati killed herself in her father Raja Daksha's yagna fire, in retaliation and vengeance, unable to bear the insults made to Shiva. Vishnu, the Preserver in the Hindu Trinity, cut up Sati's body so that Shiva could resort to his daily duties again. Sati's body was thus scattered all over what is presently the Indian subcontinent. There are 51 such holy spots where temples have been erected and they are called Pithas or the Shakti Pithas.

There is one well like structure inside the temple which is called Nabhigaya or Navigaya. This is believed to have the navel of Gayasura. According to Hindu mythology Gaya(situated in Bihar) is believed to have the head of Gayasura. Biraja temple is believed to have the navel of Gayasura and the legs of Gayasura in Pithapuram(Andhra Pradesh). Thus, people gather here in large mass on Shraadha and Mahalaya. According to folklore, anyone giving Shraadha of their ancestor would not require to perform Shaardha again(same as Shraadha in Gaya). After performing the Shaardha, the Peenda(the banana leaf with rice,wheat flour etc used to perform the ritual named Shaardha) is thrown inside this well. During Mahalaya, large number if Peenda's are thrown inside the well which covers it. However, according to myth, once Peenda is given they never clean the well. Till today the well has not got filled with Peenda's. Below is a picture of the Nabhigaya at right side and the main temple adjacent to it in left.

The main deity of this temple is Goddess Durga with two hands. In one hand she kills Mahisasura with a spear and in other she holds the tail of Mahisasura. Mahisasura is depicted in the form of Buffalo. The crown of deity has a symbol of Ganesha, a crescent moon and a Shiva linga. Below is a picture of the Goddess Biraja.

The temple premises has a number of Shiva linga. It is believed that this place has just one less Shiva linga than Puri. There are two rooms filled with 49 and 56 Shivalinga's. And remaining Shiva linga's are found all around the temple premises and garden. Below is a picture of the shivalinga's in array found inside the two rooms. They are present in various shapes and sizes.

Durga Puja remains the main festival of this temple.On the occasion of Maha Astami and Maha Navami, the idol of Devi is taken in Chariot like the Rath Yatra. The Chariot of Devi is called Shimhadwaja.

She is worshipped as Mahisasuramardini by the Pandits of Jajpur. People in large mass come to worship the Goddess from Mahalaya to Maha Dasami during Durga Puja festival.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baba Akhandalamani

Hi Readers,

I am going to describe my visit to one of the most famous temple of Lord Shiva in Orissa i.e. the Akhandalamani temple near Bhadrak.

I visited this temple for the first time with my family recently. The temple is located at Aradi 37kms from Bhadrak. However, we took a shortcut through Jajpur town to reach the temple early. It took us around 4.5 hrs to cover the distance from Cuttack. However, we were little late and reached the temple after 1PM, when the temple closed for Lords rest(Pahada). There is a custom of applying milk,curd, Chenna, honey,banana and coconut directly on the Linga(idol) of Lord Shiva. This is then made into Pachamruta and taken as prasad. My MIL(Mom in law) wanted to perform this. If we would have reached just half an hour early, this custom could have been performed on Lord's head by the Pandits. However, they did it(custom called gharsana) for us by applying the mixture at Lord's feet as the decoration of lord was over for the day. 

The temple has few shops that deals with items related to Gharsana and Prasad. Few shops has other Puja samagri and spiritual books. The problem here is there is no good restaurants near by. The people also suggest to take the prasad available in temple. We had the Prasad and then took Darsan when the temple reopened at 3 PM. There is a short passage where the crowd gathers and the Pandits perform the Puja on their behalf. We took the blessing of Lord and returned soon as we needed to travel back home.

Now, I am going to narrate the history behind this temple. There is no such evidence found behind the temple history. Thus, I am going to describe the folklore below.

According to legends around 350 years ago during the rule of Raja Sri Niladri Samara Singha Mohapatra, once in an early morning the Raja sent a peasant to cultivate his Paddy field which was located on the bank of the river Baitarani. While cultivating, the blade of his plough was broken by hitting with some hard material. The peasant was astonished to find a black glazed granite stone with full of blood which is flowing towards the river Baitarani. Afraid by this incident the peasant ran to call the King. Then the king Niladri Samar Singh hurriedly came to the spot, and found flood of milk in place of blood and a huge black cobra hooding the stone. On that night the king had a dream regarding the arrival of the God Akhandalamani on that place. This news spread like wild fire in nearby locality.

The next day the king Niladri Samara Singha Mohapatra started worshiping the great god and immediately built a wooden temple on the spot. A large number of devotees from different villages and area started visiting and worshiping the great God. The king invited five Brahmins from a village named Naharagrama of Jajapur district to perform seva-puja (worshiping and taking care) of lord Akhandalamani.

The then king of the erst while Rajkanika state, Harihar Bhanja Deo was suffering severely from a fatal eye disease. All treatment had failed. The king thought "May be Lord Akhandaleswar's blessings can give him a miraculous cure". He came to Aradi for a Dharana ( spiritual concentration to obtain Lord's blessings). Lord Akhandaleswar appeared in his dream and told him the way of remedy. At last king Harihar Bhanja Deo was cured by lord's benediction. As per his "Manasika", he tried  to build a pucca temple for Lord Akhandaleswar at Aradi. But in those days, it was a stupendous task to build a pucca temple in a remote area like Aradi. Only stone blocks and lime composition constituted materials for pucca temple. Stone blocks were available on the hills of  Nilagiri located about 100 Kms from Aradi and transportation of those blocks to Aradi was done along the water way of the river Baitarani.

The king made preliminary arrangements to build a pucca temple. He dug a large pond near the proposed site of the temple, which now stands as an immortal proof and is named "Shiva Ganga". The king dug a canal from the pond to the river Baitarani  which is available now and is named 'Shiva Mahara' to connect the river with the pond. It facilitated country boats to carry materials for construction of the pucca temple. The King Harihar Bhanja Deo passed away in 1839 AD. His queen Satyabhama Patamahadei completed what her husband had started.

Now the temple stands as an immortal deed of King Harihar Bhanja  Deo and Satyabhama Patta mahadei.
As per government record, in 1839 Akhandaleswar temple at Aradi was a wooden temple and the present temple was built after 1839.

Since, then the people of Orissa, worship the Lord Akhandalamani with great devotion. It is believed that anyone beaten by serpent or poisoned is cured if prayed to Lord with full faith.

-------------Ohm! Namah Shivaya -----------------

Monday, July 25, 2011


When the great library of England burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.The book wasn't very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the "Touchstone"!
The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold.

So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.

He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold - throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.

The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about midafternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away.

So it is with opportunity. Unless we are vigilant, it's easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it's just as easy to throw it away.We need to be vigilant to recognise all the oppertunity that falls into our hand and grab the oppertunity at right time and make best possible use of it. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The lotus feet of Lord Sri Jagannath

Hi Readers,

I would like to say this as a continuation of my previous posts related to my beloved lord Sri Jagannath. The first one being " An insight to Rath Yatra " and then " A visit to Puri last Year". This time I visited Puri during the Rath Yatra festival. For me this was the first time, when I visited Puri during this nine day long festival. It was an incredible experience all together. I will try my best to jot down the same below.

We went to Puri on the seventh day of commencement of Rath Yatra. Our journey started with Katak Chandi temple, followed by Kali temple. We halted in Bal temple,Pahala on the way to Bhubaneswar. It was already 2PM as we started late from Katak.We had the prasad there as lunch. I ate so much that did not even feel slightest hunger till mid night. On the way to Puri, I slept almost the entire journey. Finally, we reached Puri around 6 in the evening.

We(me, my husband and MIL(mom in law)), went to Gundicha temple. There was a long queue.By the time we entered the main temple premises, it was completely dark and the time must be around 7Pm. There were around 4 to 5 entrances to reach the feet of lord. And on each entrance, there was a greedy Bhramin guarding the gate. You just need to pay them few bucks ranging from Rs30 to Rs 100, depending on your bargaining skill. Finally, I managed to enter the main temple after paying the Pandas(Bharmins). The floor was wet, and people had started to lit the Diya's inside the main temple. I feared, my Saree catching fire. It was first time though, I wore a silk Saree, with the palu on my head. I was sweating badly due to the crowd and chaos inside the temple.

Suddenly, I remembered the Deogarh temple(Bihar) and my visit on Sarban somvar. I could never forget the crowd, stampede like condition there. I also remembered the Kamakshya temple(Gwahati),the dark interior of the temple. It was very similar here. Wet floors, crowd as though waiting for stampede. My MIL and my husband helped me a lot in covering the crowd and finally reaching the Lotus feet. It was first time, that I saw the Lords idol so closely, touched his feet and took his blessings. Oh! Lord one of my wishes was fulfilled to touch your idol on my own hand.

Then started another scene, when the crowd pushed my MIL to the exit of the temple. We were lost. My husband and I waited outside the temple for few mints before the power went off. It was too dark to see the person's face standing next to us. When the power came back, we searched for her and then returned back to our vehicle. My MIL announced our name in the near by help center. This incident reminded me of My Dad announcing my name in School fete in Std 6th.
Lastly, she called up our relative as we both left our mobile in car. Somehow, we contacted her and she returned back to the place where we were waiting. Then started another problem, that's finding our footwear. Readers, my advise never take your footwear's to any stand ,instead keep it in your vehicle if situation permits. Another one hour and the hunt for shoes didn't end. After 9 PM we left Gundicha temple and went to the sea beach(Mahodadhi). Sprinkled a few drops of the salty water on us and left Puri.

The best and interesting activity of that day was attending a wedding after mid-night that too bare footed. We had no shoes and there was no shop open at the time we reached Bhubaneswar. Searched the place for about an hour where the wedding was going to happen. I had almost lost all my patience as I got up too early that morning and it was almost crossing mid night. God knows how I kept smiling even though I was too tired and was unable to open my eyelids. I somehow managed to wish the couple.

 Finally, we reached home at night 2PM. You won't believe how much happy I was to see my home that day. However, I had least energy to climb that 5th floor. Don't know how I went up, reached my bed and slept.

Altogether, this was one of the interesting and unforgettable experience of my life.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Tortoise with patience wins a race over hare.

Hi Readers,

I am back after a long break from my regular hobby that's blogging. This time it was the longest vacation for me. I had great time with my family. I learnt one of the most important lesson in life and that's "Patience". Though, I lost it few times, but I had put all my efforts to stick to it. I am really very happy that I could work on it. And truly speaking, its not that very difficult to have patience.

It has never been easy to be patient, but it's probably even harder now than at any time in history. In a world where messages can be sent across the world instantly, seemingly everything is available with a few clicks of the mouse, and a swift movement of your thumbs can take you into a fantasy game world, it's very hard not to expect instant satisfaction. But patience remains a valuable tool in life. We don't always get instant gratification, and some of the best things in life require years of hard work and waiting. Fortunately, patience is a virtue that can be cultivated and nurtured. It does take time to fulfill this goal, but once this has grown into an ordinary skill for you, you certainly won't be disappointed at what life can offer you with some spare time. You will be surprised by how boring, restless, and lagging hours can evolve into a passing time of relaxation and peace of mind.

In this computer age, sometimes we tend to forget that everything especially human beings are not computer. Sometimes, we try to impose time limits for performing our task. Well, this is only applicable to computer and software's that humanbeing design, however, its not that easy for any other humanbeing to perform tasks that seems to be far more easier. When its dependent on man power, it requires much needed patience. Once, you loose patience, there is chances of more errors. Where there is no patience, there comes aggressiveness, irritation which leads to anxiety.

Take for example, you are trying to build a new relationship with anyone be a friend, a new colleague. It is human tendency to make a note of all the bad qualities of the person at first. Its easy to identify the "WRONG" in a person than to identify the " RIGHT". Only, patience to know the person can show you the better world that the person possess.

There are many ways listed in the web to improve patience. I like a few among them. I will list them below for you all. Have a little Patience to go through them.

1- Try to figure out why you are in such a hurry :- We tend to loose patience when we are multitasking or we are in a tight schedule. If you are stretching yourself too thin, then reconsider your to-do list, before you attempt to change your reaction to overwhelming situation. Spread out your work, so that you can perform one task at a time. Delegate your work to others, this in turn will make you share your load.

2- Remind yourself that things take time :-
When we depend on others to complete a task, we need to have patience. For example, I need to travel to my office by local bus. As per my plan it would take me 30 mintutes in covering the distance. So, I catched a bus and expected to reach the place in time. But, I am dependent on bus. If there is any traffic jam, bus failure or any other incident then it will definitely take time for me to reach my destination. I need to have patience.
3- Expect the unexpected :- Yes, you have plans, but things don't always work out as planned. Accept the twist and turns in life gracefully. Keep your expectations realistic. This applies not only to circumstances, but also the behavior of those around you.  Even if the occasion is not an isolated incident but is instead caused by their repeated neglect and carelessness, losing your patience isn't going to make it any better. That's something to be addressed with discussion and self-control.

4- Give yourself a break :- Sometimes, we loose patience when we are too busy in completing the task. We are so overwhelmed that any delay causes us to frown. We need a slight break in our regular activity to refresh and control our emotions. It also helps us restore back our patience and energy.

5- Remember what matters :- Not focusing on what matters most in this life fuels impatience. Move the world toward peace by being kind, generous in forgiveness of others, being grateful for what is, and taking full advantage of what matters most. When other less important things fuel our impatience, taking time to remember any one of these items reduces our tendency to want something different right now.

6 - Always remember that you will eventually get what you want :- If you work hard at something, this may be the truth, but most of the time you have to be patient to get what you want. For others, this may come as easy, but the only thing that matters is that you know how to occupy yourself, even in the dead of times. Just remember, patience is a mental skill that you will never forget, so cherish patience as a major step for you in life. Impatience is something not to be proud of, but something that you should attempt to train yourself out of, before it is something that overthrows your life.

I remember few lines of my favourite author Chetan Bhagat in TOI few months ago. I will require to find it out and post here for reference.

Its well said, Tortoise with patience can win a race over hare with no patience.That is the slow and steady wins the race.

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