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.