Orissa News

History & Mythology

Kalinga, the ancient kingdom whose domain overlaps to a great extent with modern day Orissa, was initially ruled by Jains. Jainism was the state religion for millennia with occasional breaks. However with the reign of Ashoka, Buddhism became the state religion. Although the residents of the mainland were Buddhists, their tribal counterparts who inhabited the hinterland still maintained their primitive religions. The amalgamation of Buddhism and the tribal form of worship in a later part of the history was responsible to the evolution and flourishing of the Tantric and then the Shakti form of worship in Orissa. This is very evident in almost all significant deities of the state including Lord Jagannath who has a history ascribed to the tribal. Maa Tarini, Maa Samalei and many other female deities of the state are a direct upshot of this synthesis.

The exact sequence of events which led to the installation of the Goddess at her chief shrine in Ghatagaon is still a matter of debate among historians. The reason is that the events have been recorded by poets in devotional works dedicated to her which are often punctuated with exaggerated mythological events. The story of Her getting installed in Ghatagaon is nonetheless an interesting one.

Chhera Pahara:the custom of King sweeping the cchariot of Lord JagannathPer historical evidences, the King of Kalinga, Purushottam Dev who ruled the state in 1475 AD, chanced to glimpse the Princess of Kanchi, the beautiful Padmavati on one of his trips to that state. Charmed at her beauty, he sent in an emissary to her father proposing marriage. The proposal was welcomed and consequently a minister from Kanchi sent to the state of Kalinga. Per chance the visit of the emissary coincided with the Car festival of Lord Jagannath (Rath Yatra) wherein the king in harmony with the rituals of the temple was required to carry on the traditional Chhera pahara( sweeping of the chariots of the Lord), just like an ordinary servant. (The custom continues to this day, the scion of the royal family of Puri performing the rite.)

This act of the king was however regarded disgraceful by the emissary and consequently the marriage was taken off. The infuriated Purusottam Dev then marched upon Kanchi, but returned defeated. He then lay before Sri Jagannath for days, praying for victory or death! The Lord assured him, in his dream that he would win on a second expedition but only with the appointment of a new commander in chief. The Lord advised the King that the person residing the house where a red flag would be flying on the rooftop, would be the next commander in chief of his army. The king’s men spot out the residence and its owner, Govinda Bhanja, who turned out to be the son of the King of Keonjhar. He had abdicated his kingdom to live as a common man in Puri. Purushottam Dev now set out on a mission to avenge his insult.

Maa Tarini comes to Orissa

Lord Rama had worshiped and installed of Maa durga in the forests of Kanchi On expedition to the state of Kanchi (present day Vijayanagar),the men were led by Govinda Bhanja.Suddenly on the forests that fell in route to Vujaynagar, Govind’s horses refused to move further. Upon enquiry among the tribal residing there, Govinda Bhanja came to learn of the forest deity who had been installed in the forest by Lord Shri Ram centuries earlier. The anecdotes provided by the tribal suggested of Lord Ram having worshipped the goddess Mother Durga in the forest. The goddess who now resided in the forests as a stone image was worshipped by the tribe ever since and she was the protector of the Kanchi kingdom. Govinda Bhanja then sought the benediction of the Goddess in his endeavor to conquer Kanchi. After this only, he proceeded to the battle ground. Following the battle, Purshotam dev was victorious and was able to win his princess.>/p>

On his way back home, he also wanted to bring the deity of Kanchi “The Mother” along with Lord Madammohan & Raghunathjew to Puri. He prayed them for fulfilling his wish and was blessed. Thus the Mother came to Kalinga or Orissa with other deoties and were installed in Puri.

Maa comes to Ghatagoan from Puri

Maa Tarini was installed in Ghatgaon by Govinda BhanjaUpon the death of the reigning King Trilochona Bhanja Khedhujhar, Govinda Bhanja had to return to his kingdom. King Purusottam Dev wanted to give him something as a token of their long standing relationship and for his help in avenging his insult. Govinda Bhanja sought his permission for taking the “Mother” with him to Keonjhar . King Purusottam Dev agreed to this and asked him to seek the Mother’s permission. Govinda Bhanja then prayed MAA and She agreed on a condition that She would follow him in his journey to Keonjhar provided he would not look back to check if She was following. The moment he looks back she would stop following and stay at that particular place. Govind Bhanja agreed to this. From Puri to Keonjhar, the horse hoof sounds of the Mother were audible. On the outskirts of Keonjhar lies river Baitarini. On the forest of Keonjhar Maa’s horse hoofs was not audible anymore. Govinda got scared that Maa stayed behind and he turned to look. Then and there Maa turned into stone. That place is Ghatagaon. And the Mother has remained there ever since and is worshipped there. Till today Maa Tarini is being worshipped in the wild forests of Ghatagaon in Keonjhar. However, with time the place has become a major place of pilgrimage with devotees thronging to visit HER and the forests thinned considerably.