Colourful seasonal vegetables adorn this goddess on ‘Ashtami Pooja’
New trends may have emerged in the recent times of adoring the goddess Durga, but this temple in Haridwar continues its old traditional custom of decorating the goddess with vegetables and dry fruits giving her the title of Shakumbhari. Built in south Indian style, the temple continues its tradition of making rosaries of vegetables for the Ashtami Pooja. One famous temple of Shakumbhari Devi is in Saharanpur but the temple in Haridwar has special décor on the eighth day of Navratri.
All over the country, the temples of the goddess are wearing a festive look this Navratri which will be concluding on Monday. The temples devoted to goddess are bedecked with red colour predominant in all decorations but here close to the Alaknanda Ghat on Laltarao bridge, the goddess Makarvahini has chosen colour of multi-coloured vegetables for her attire. On the banks of the Ganga, this temple was established by Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram a few decades ago.
Enter the temple and on the gate and corridor, one can’t miss the makhanas (lotus seeds) and coconuts hanging in string from the ceiling of the temple where the goddess’ idol stands.
A devotee, Shishu Pal from Kolkata who came to this temple stood seeing the attire of the Goddess. “In West Bengal we had one devotee offer a saree made of pure gold to the Goddess, but here Ma Durga has chosen the cheapest mode of dress.” Drenched in the devotion of the Mother, Bhawani Prasad said, “She alone knows how to run this world show. At places she is bedecked with gold, at others she is just happy with vegetables ”
On the evening of Durgashtami, the goddess is bedecked with ornaments made of fresh vegetables and garlands of ladyfinger, brinjal, lauki (bottle gourd), peas, radish and celery. “We start decorating the deity in the afternoon and after 6 pm the temple is open for darshan for the devotees till midnight,” tells the head priest Gopal Krishna in his typical south Indian accent.
A visit to the temple gives an impression of a vegetable market with all kinds of vegetables lying in a long corridor where few devotees are busy threading and roping vegetables with needle and thread. It is the ‘devi’s shringar’, beams one of the priests making garland. One after the other, banana bunches, jackfruit, bottle gourd get sewed by these skilled hands.
According to belief, in Treta Yug there was a famine and people prayed to the holy trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Pleased with their prayers, the goddess appeared before them in the form of Shakumbhari( deity of vegetables) and produced variety of vegetables from different parts of her body.
Since then people started worshipping the goddess in the form of Shakumbhari and decorate her with vegetables on Ashtami (eighth day of Navratri).
Monday, 07 October 2019 | PNS | Haridwar
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