SRI MAHALASA DEVI UTSAV (JATRA)
By V.SUNDARAM I.A.S
MAP SHOWING MAHALASA TEMPLE AT MARDOL,
IN THE NORTH-WEST OF PONDA
Today (Sunday 27-2-2011) is the last day of the Mardol Mahalasa Temple Utsav in Goa. This is a very important annual Hindu festival in Goa. Mardol is 25 km off Madagaon in the Ponda Taluq of Goa. Mardol Mahalasa Temple is one of the most important Shakti Kshetras in middle Western India.
Shri Mahalasa Devasthan (Mardol)
Carvings around the base of the Deepasthamba at Mahalasa Narayani Temple
'Garbh Kud' Decorated with Jasmine Flowers.
The ‘Jasmine Festival’ is locally known as the ‘Jaayaanchi Pooja’. The main highlight of the Jasmine Festival is that the temple of Devi Mahalasa is fully decorated with the fragrant Jasmine flowers available in plenty in the neighbourhood. The Divine fragrance and aroma of devotion wafted by them continues to linger in and around the precincts of the Temple long after the festival is over.
Hans Rath Wahan
This Temple was built in the 16th century by one famous devotee of Mahashakti Devi known as Shri Malappa. The Chaturbujha Idol of Mahashakti (Vishnu Roopini) Narayani Devi is made of a special kind of stone which measures 1 metre in height. The Idol looks remarkably grand and beautiful with its exquisite sculpture.
All the original Hindu Temples in Goa were systematically destroyed by the predatory, savage colonial Portuguese Catholic Christian marauders during the period from 1600 to 1800. The Portuguese Inquisition in Goa was as terrible in its State sponsored inhuman Christian religious cruelty towards the peace-loving original inhabitants of Goa, as the Spanish Inquisition in South America was against the primordial native population in that continent. St Francis Xavier, a crooked Roman Catholic barbarian and criminal, who inaugurated the dark era of Inquisition of Hindus in Goa in 1641. It continued unabated till the end of the 18th Century. The persecuted Hindu of Goa ran for their lives taking their revered idols with them for safe custody to far away places along the West Coast of India including the Hindu Kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore.
Mahalasa Devi Idol at Mardol
Mahalasa Devi Idol at Mardol stands on the back of the formidable demon Visakha lying prostrate on the ground. Daily worship is offered three times a day. Mahalasa Devi reveals herself in 3 distinct and different aspects---nay forms ----each day. In the morning session, Mother reveals herself as a young girl. During noon time she appears as a virgin. Later in the evening she reveals herself as a fully grown woman. Another important feature that greets the visitors is her holding in her hand, the image of Malappa, the original builder the temple in the 16th century. This temple attracts hundreds of visitors throughout the year from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan. But more importantly thousands throng this temple during the Mahalasa Devi Utsav (Jatra) every year. This year as we have noted above, this Utsav began on 22-2-2011 and ends today 27-2-2011 (Sunday).
The STALA PURANA of this more than 500 year old Temple is most fascinating. Nearly 600 years ago, on a very hot day, a rustic shepherd boy after having tended his cattle in the blazing sun of summer, halted near a hillock at Mardol (old Mhaddol) to find drinking water for himself and his thirsty cattle. Even as he was feeling helpless with no sign of drinking water any where in the neighbourhood, then suddenly as if in a flash he saw standing near him a lady of radiant beauty and Divine splendour. This beautiful lady spoke to him in a voice soaked with Divine melody: "I want to stay here, in this place! Go and get your landlord here." The cowherd boy told the lady rather meekly: "But now I have to give drinking water to my cattle”.
The resplendent Goddess lightly struck the earth with her Nupur and Lo and Behold! The cowherd boy was thrilled beyond words to see crystal-clear water springing up like a fountain from the depths of the black laterite rock.
Now the Goddess told the cowherd boy: “Have this drinking water for your cattle. You can go down the hill and fetch your landlord here!”
The little cowherd ran down like lightning. The landlord was not at home. The son-in-law of the house, Mahal Sharma, listened to the story narrated by the boy and went up the hill. He saw the Goddess and around her a dazzling golden aura of a thousand suns. He prostated in complete submission before the Goddess. Then in the same deep, melodious resounding voice he heard her Divine Proclamation: “I want to stay here. You dig at this spot and you will find my idol. Construct a temple in this place for me”. Declaring thus unto eternity, the heavenly Goddess disappeared from the scene. Thus goes the story of the arrival of Shri Mahalasa Narayani in Goa. The story is still being told for ages in this part of Goa and the perennial spring at the hill of Vernem village (old Mhaddol) in Salcette Taluka of Goa even today. The small pool around that spring is known as "Nupur Tali" or tank of Nupur from times immemmorial. The Stala Purana of this Temple has its reference in the SKANDA PURANA, the largest of all the Puranas.
We have it on the authority of SKANDA PURANA that Bhagawan Parusharama told the devotees that the Goddess at Mahalasa Devi Temple at Mardol is to be worshipped during the nine parts of the day viz.,
Pratahkal as Adhishakti,
Purvanha as Mahamaya,
Madhyanha as Mulaprakruti,
Aparanha as Ishwari,
Sayamkal as Gandhadhwara,
Pradosh as Duradarsha,
Ratri as Nithyapushta,
Madhya Ratri as Karishini, and,
Apar Ratri as Shri Devi respectively.
Goddess Mahalasa Devi is to be worshipped by reciting 24 names -- Durga, Bhadrakali, Vijaya, Vaishnavi, Kumuda, Dandika, Krishna, Madhavi, Kanyaka, Maya, Narayani, Shanta, Sharada, Ambika, Katyayani, Baldurga, Maha Yogini, Adhishwari, Yog Nidra, Mahalaxmi, Kalratri, Mohini, Sarva Deu Namaskarya and Bharati. This Goddess shall fulfill all your wishes.”
After instructing the people, thus, to worship this Goddess with all their heart, mind and soul, Bhagawan Parashurama once again retired to HIS favourite retreat at Gomantak Hills.