Goddess Biraja Temple is a historic Hindu temple located in Jajpur that is around 125 kilometres away from Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. Known as Viraja or Biraja kshetra, this important Maha Shakti peeth, is housed in Jajpur that is known for 1000 lingams.
Viraja is a form of Goddess Durga who gets worshipped here as Girija or Viraja and Lord Shiva, receives worship in the form of Jagannath. Adi Shankara, in his Ashtadasha Shakti Peetha Stuti, describes Viraja Devi as Girija who an amalgamation of the holy trinity of Goddesses, that is, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Maha Saraswati.
As per Shiva Purana, this temple is one of the 51 shakti peeths of Goddess Sati, whose mortal remains were torn into 51 shreds by Lord Vishnu using his Sudarshan Chakra. It is the navel of Sati that fell on Jajpur and a temple was erected for Biraja Devi. Lord Vishnu in this temple exists in his Varaha avatar. Know more about this famous Goddess Biraja temple in Jaipur.
Goddess Biraja Temple: Iconography
The idol of the Devi in the temple shows her to be standing on the demon Mahishasura. You could see, on the crown of Biraja, the images of Lord Ganesh, a Shivling and a crescent moon engraved beautifully.
Goddess Biraja Temple: Architecture
Temple for Goddess Biraja was originally constructed in the first or second century CE during Gupta’s regime. Later on, it was renovated in the 13th century CE. By then numerous temples in this complex had been raised, that was devoted to other Goddesses. After the temple was demolished by intruders in 1569, it remained dilapidated for a long time till it was reconstructed by a zamindar in 1840.
Goddess Biraja Temple: History Behind The Construction
The king of the Kesari dynasty, Jajati Keshari, was behind the construction of the Biraja temple in Jajati Nagar or Jajpur in the 13th century during the period of the Kalingas. Goddess Biraja’s idol is about 70 feet tall and being worshipped since the fifth century. This temple is also known as ‘Gadakhestra’, as there is a Gada that belonged to Bhima that is lying in this temple. There is a symbol of two standing lions, in this temple, which is the distinguishing mark and symbol of the Keshari dynasty. Keshari dynasty actually overshadows the achievements of the Gajapati dynasty of Orissa.
Goddess Biraja Temple: Legend
As per the records of Brahmanda Purana, when Lord Brahma performed a yagna on the river Vaitarani, Goddess Parvati appeared from the flames of the homagni and suggested to Brahma that she be called Biraja and assured him that she would stay as the consort of Lord Shiva in this place. Goddess Parvati created nine Durgas, 64 yoginis, 8 Chandikas, and made them settle here in this Kshetra forever. Due to this, this land came to be called Shakti Peetha.
Lord Brahma Lord Vishnu and Lord Ishwara together performed a yagna over the Gayasurs body to eliminate him. Gayasur’s feet extended to the Pithapuram , Andhrapradesh in Pada Gaya, nabhi or navel was found in the Biraja Kshetra or Jajpur, in Nabhi Gaya and his head at Shiro Gaya. This specific area of Nabhi Gaya is situated inside a well of the Biraja temple that is in proximity with her idol.
Goddess Biraja Temple: Significance
Regarded as a shakti peeth, and Nabhi Gaya, Goddess Biraja temple is one of the three important sites. As per the Skanda Purana, Goddess Biraja cleanses the souls of the devotees who come here to worship. The exquisite and rare form of Goddess Baglamukhi is seen in this temple, which is actually not found anywhere else.
Goddess Biraja Temple: Festivals
Triveni Amavasya – It is the birthday of goddess Biraja which is celebrated as the most important occasion here. It arrives in the month of Magha (January-February) on the new – moon day. Dola Purnima is held on the full-moon day of the month of Phalguna (February-March). Varuna Festival comes in the month of Caitra(March-April). On the first day of the Vaiśakha (April-May), Maha Vishuva Sankranti or Paṇa Sankranti is held in the Biraja temple. Chandana Purṇima is celebrated on the Chandan Purṇima day in the month of May-June, Sandal paste is applied to the face of the Goddess Biraja, which is a very significant event for devotees.
- Sāvitri Amāvāsyā is celebrated on the Poornima day of the Jyesthaq month (May-June).
- Shitalagi Amavasya is a special event celebrated in Sravana (July-August)
- Gamha Purṇimā or Rakshi Purnima is celebrated on the Poornima of Srāvaṇa (July-August).
- Suniā is held on the Dwadashi Shukla Paksha of the month of Bhādrapada (September).
- Durgā Pūjā is held in the Ashvina month/ (September – October)
- Rathayātrā is held in the month of Āśvina (September-October), where the wooden chariot of Goddess Biraja is placed right opposite the Lions Gate.
- The Lākhavindhā ceremony is held at the midnight of Mahānavami day.
- Kumāra Purṇimā festival is held on the Poornima day of Āsvina (September-October).
- Dipāvali is celebrated on the evening of Kāli pūjā in November.
- Prathamāṣṭami is celebrated during Prathamāṣṭami in November, the eldest sons and daughters wear new clothes and consume a special and delicious cake with turmeric aroma named ‘Enḍurī’.
- Dhanu Samkrānti – This begins in the Pausa month (December-January) when people enjoy sweetened balls of parched and husked paddy to improve their health.
- Vakuḷa Amavasya – On the new moon day of Pauṣa (Dec-Jan) Vakuḷa Amavasya is celebrated in the Biraja temple.
On one side of the temple, there is a temple dedicated to Baglamukhi who is one of the Dashavidyas. This temple complex also has a Shivlinga in each of the three corners.
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