Archive for June, 2011

Town Grow richer, Villages Go Poorer in Orissa

Urban Poor in Orissa

Urban Poor in Orissa

It’s a clarion call for the government of Orissa! A recent district-level household survey reveals that Social Inequity is fast aggravating in Orissa. While the middle class is shrinking, the numbers of poor is rising exponentially!

With the rich-poor divide being pronounced in villages, around seven persons in every 10 have a low living index where only one is rich. Statistics also reveal that the middle class in villages of the district has almost shrunk by half. Urban areas too have witnessed the compression, where the middle class has shrunk significantly by 10 percent.

However the category of rich in Bhubaneswar has more than doubled to 32% during the last decade. Now every third person in Bhubaneswar and other allied towns has a high living index.

Experts opine that the rise in the poor class in the rural areas has been the direct fallout of the shrinking middle class. Consequent to the shrinking of middle class by 16 percent, the poors have grown by 10% and the rich by 5%.

What gives a fillip to rising riches of residents of Bhubaneswar is the booming service sector coupled with the growing realty sector. However the villages in the state bereft of any such success story have to bear the brunt of poverty. The same is accentuated by the agriculture ministry where a majority of farmers hold BPL cards against none in Bhubaneswar.

Orissa Lad Invents A Kit That Makes Bike Run On Water

At a time when rising fuel prices is creating a hole in the pockets of many Indian and people are rethinking ways to cut down ways to reduce expenses on travelling, there is a good news. A 21 year old city boy has found an solution that may go well with most auto makers as well as people in the country.

Shakti Prasad Sahoo, has come up with a brilliant idea of using water as fuel in vehicles. Amazing it may sound, but the young resident from Bhubaneswar who is continuing with his studies in the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering (CIPET), has successfully added a kit that is allowing him to run his bike on water.

The kit helps in converting water into hydrogen gas that is then used as a fuel for running the bike. The whole idea runs on the principles of electrolysis of water and all that you need is as fuel is – WATER! Shakti claims that a liter of water can produce enough fuel to cover a distance of 800-1000km. The young innovator says it took him two months to develop the task of developing the kit which one needs to add to his bike before starting to use water as fuel.

The young lad had earlier designed a battery in 2008 powered vehicle that had also won him huge applause. Shakti who says the present problem of rising fuel prices inspired him to come up with this unique idea , has become the talk of the town now.

Celebrating The 75 years of Oriya Cinema

Sita Bibaha - First Oriya Film

Sita Bibaha - First Oriya Film

What a way to evolve for Orissa cinema? From touring amphitheaters to large halls that accommodate hundreds; from mythological scripts to urban fantasies; from low budget investments to films running into crores; from an average of one to three films to an average of 15-20 films a year – clearly the journey so far for the Oriya film industry has not only been tremendous but also spectacular.

Long back, in the 1934, a pious man of Puri Mohan Sundar Dev Goswami fist mooted the idea of producing in Oriya Film. Then Orissa lacked the basic infrastructural facilities for the production of film. Neither a good director was available nor was there a well equipped studio. The man with stone grit decides to scribe his own script based on the drama written by Kampal Mishra and with help of Priyanath Ganguli of Kolkatta produced the first Oriya film “Sita Bibaha” which was released in the year 1936, April 28 at laxmi Takies Puri.

The film was a culmination of unflinching faith of Mohan Sundar Dev Goswami who struggled with phenomenal odds to give Orissa a new identity in celluloid form. Oriya films thus did not have a tryst with silent movies. The path was set for talkie films. Produced with an investment of only Rs 30,000, the film had 14 song sequences. The 12-reeled film had in its cast line Makhanlal Banerjee (Ram) who received only Rs 120 for his performance, Aditya Ballav Mohanty (Lakhsman) who got only Rs 35 as conveyance allowance and Prabhabati Devi (Sita) who was paid the highest amount of Rs 150. Despite it being the first Oriya film with several drawbacks in every section of its making, the two-hour-long movie generated great enthusiasm among the people.

However the lack of theaters that could display the films to a greater mass of people meant that the film was a commercial failure. And this put a brake on other financers to put their money into film making in Oriya language. The situation continued for the next thirteen years as no other film was ever made in Oriya till 1948.

Prashant Nanda - Oriya Actor

Prashant Nanda - Oriya Actor

Rupa Bharti Ltd, a public limited company was then mooted to produce films in Oriya. The first public limited company in entertainment business in India was thus born in Orissa and provided a solution to the problem of finance by collecting Rs 10 to Rs 100 from general public. The same year another production house waslaunched in Orissa. Named Eastern movies tone Pvt. Ltd, the company presented Orissa with its second movie “Lalita” in 1949. The following year ‘Rupa Bharati Ltd. Company’ after successfully raising capital from the market, produced “Sri Jagannath” – a film based on an episode from Hindu mythology. The film released in 1950 was massively successful and was remade in telugu to be relaunched in Andhra Pradesh where it again went in to make big money

Stage was thus set for Oriya film industry to take a quantum leap from here, The 1951 production ‘Roles to Eight’ was the first Oriya film having an English name. This was the fourth Oriya film and was produced by Ratikanta Padhi. The pace of oriya films was very slow till then but the art of making movies had been learnt by Oriyas.

Jharana Das _ Oriya Actress of The Yore

Jharana Das _ Oriya Actress of The Yore

It was the year 1960 that Oriya film making got its major recognition in national circles as Sri Lokenath became the first Oriya film to get a national award. The film directed by Prafulla Sengupta was just the 11th film to have been produced by the Oriya film industry. The same year, Prasantha Nanda wan National Award as best actor for the film Nau Bau. The iconic film personality who would later leave an indelible impression on the Oriya filmdom had just made a debut as an actor with this film.

The name of Prasanta Nanda would always come while dealing with Oriya films. He was present in Oriya films since 1939, but he became super active only after 1976. Nanda served Oriya filmdom as an actor, director, screenplay writer, and lyricist and even as a playback singer. Such a versatile genius is quite rare in Indian cinema history. Prashant Nanda alone carried Oriya films into the national honor list by winning National Awards for three times in 1960, 1966 and 1969 for his acting in Nua Bou, Matir Manisha and Adina Megha.

Oriya films, especially in 1960s and in 1970s, were highly indebted to Bengali films. Several Bengali directors help their Oriya counterparts to help make films. Eminent director Mrinal Sen even directed an Oriya film Matir Manisha which won National Award for best actor. Prashanta Nanda was the winner.

The Oriya film industry kept growing exponentially in the 1970’s especially after the runway hit, ‘Mamata’ (1975) directed by Bymokesh Tripathy . Though a number of Oriya film were produced no attempt was made to provide the basic amenities to the producers in the state, this inadequacy stood as a major hurdle for producing more films in Oriya language. Consequently the Orissa Film Development Corporation Ltd. was established in the year 1976 as a nodal agency for implementing the state policies with a view to promoting the growth of film industries in Orissa. In seventies Oriya Cinema gave birth to its first colour film “Gapa Helebi Sata” (1976) though ‘Samaya’ (1975) was partially coloured). During the mid seventies, Oriya Cinema lost its direction, films were made with the sole intension of doubling the investments, irrespective of quality. This lead to deterioration of Oriya Cinema,where culture value were thrown the winds, and box office culture of the cheap hindi commercial cinema was imported. Plagiarism become the order of the day. Big budget films came to be made and the decline quality set in.

Mahasweta Ray  - Oriya Actress

Mahasweta Ray - Oriya Actress

During the eighties, a total of 119 films were produced on an average of 12 films were made. Most important event of the Oriya film industry in eighties is arrival of three directors of the “Parallel Cinema” and they have brought the Oriya film industry a fair glory. They were Nirod Mohapatra, Manmohan Mohapatra and Sagir Ahamed all from Pune Film and Television Institute. Nirod Mohapatra’s Maya Miriga in 1984 was mile stone in the history of Oriya Cinema.Shagir Ahamed ‘Dhare Allua’ was selected for Indian panorama in 1984 along with ‘Maya Miriga’. On the other hand Manmohan Mohapatra laid the foundation stone of new wave cinema in Orissa in 1982 making his 1st film ‘Seeta Rati’.

Though the Oriya film industry has grown vigorously since the 1990 and the 2000’s, the genre of film making has declined. Of late, Bollywood seem to havegreatly influenced Oriya movies in form and content. Though number of films being released in Orissa has kept growing in numbers, commercialism defines the intent now. But as has always been said that with every cloud there is also a silver lining, it has also meant that Orissa film industry is today exploring avenues that it had never done earlier.

Going outdoors has become frequent even for a few scenes.Wearing beautiful costumes and designer labels and sprinkling the film with beautiful locales has just become the order of the day. A latest release “Mote Bahu Kari Nei Jaa” in fact became the first film in Oriya to have been completely shot in a foreign locale. The viewership has also grown in proportion. Proliferation of television channels and Cds has only aided the rising popularity of Oriya filmdom.

The Oriya film industry on its sojourn to glory has spawned a line of stars who have left indelible impression on the oriya film industry. While Sriram Panda, Prashant Nanda and Uttam Mohanty, as lead actors, and Dukhiram Swain, Bijay Mohanty and Hara Pattnai as villains were uncontested in their respective roles; Jharana Das, Mahasweta and Aparajita were the unchallenged heroines of the classic era.

Today Sidhhanta Mahapatra and now Anubhavhave claimed extraordinary success as lead male pairs. Other actors on reckoning today are Sabyasachi, Buddhaditya, Aakash, Arindam, Archita and Barsha Priyadarshini who have kept on giving regular hitsto Oriya film industry.

Now Lord Jagannath of Puri to Join the club of Rich Gods in India

Lord Jagannath puri

Lord Jagannath puri

Lord Jagannath of Puri — also known as Daridra Narayan [god of poor] — will soon enter the list of rich deities of the country.The lord’s bank deposits are expected to touch Rs150 crore by the end of this financial year making it one of the richest temples in the country.

The increase in income is attributed to the financial prudence drive that the temple authorities undertook around seven years back. The temple’s collections at that time were not as organized. The restructuring has worked wonders. The temple’s coffers have ever since been growing by leaps and bounds every year.

Donations form a major chunk of earnings in some of India’s super-rich temples. Then devotees donate lakhs to shrines such as Tirupati in Andhra and Vaishno Devi in Jammu. But this is not the case with Lord Jagannath. Neither the Puri temple charges the devotees for a darshan nor it receives much in the name of donations.

Then, where does so much money come from?

Typically, the Lord’s income comprises of interest from bank deposits [currently Rs130 crore, auction of shops in the temple premises, and sale of land that belongs to the temple trust. Many devotees had left their lands in the name of the lord as a last wish. Attempts are being made to recover those lands. The temple is trying to regularize nearly 60,000 acres of such land it owns across Orissa and other states. The temple has 56,700 acres of land in Orissa alone. It has also located lands in Maharashtra, West Bengal and other states.

Temple authorities have of late started making attempts to get back those lands by getting in touch with respective governments. The lands would be sold and money earned from the proceeds would be fixed in the lord’s name. The temple authorities have asked all district collectors in Orissa to initiate steps to recover lands belonging to the lord.

Some of the lands have been encroached upon. The temple is contemplating of registering such lands in the name of their encroachers by collecting their exact value from them. By doing so, the temple will earn around Rs5 crore in the coming years, officials said.

In order to further increase the lord’s income, hundis [donation boxes] would be set up across Orissa. Apart from the bank deposits, the temple also has a huge collection of gold ornaments, diamonds and other jewelry in its possession.

Green Bus Now Links Bhubaneswar to Puri

Wait for the city bus service is finally over for residents of Puri. The service was inaugurated by chief minister Naveen Patnaik by flagging off a bus from the Digabareni Khunta near the sea beach. A free ride for te passengers on the inaugural day of the service is an icing on the cake.

Naveen patnaik flags of Bus Services

Naveen patnaik flags of Bus Services

Five buses will run on the route for now and a passenger would have to spend Rs 30 to reach Bhubaneswar and vice-versa. Surprisingly, the city bus service named Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Service Limited (BPTSL) took more than eight months to reach Puri although the service began in Bhubaneswar last year on October 10.

Even Cuttack, which was not in the list of the city bus service earlier, was included in the service following demand from the general public and later by a directive from Orissa High Court. Cuttack was included with a fleet of 10 buses on May 16.

As per the DTS plan, five big buses would ply between Bhubaneswar and Puri. While 12 small buses would ply between Puri and Konark, eight would ply in the city itself. Though the fee for the Puri-Bhubaneswar route has been finalized, the rate for Puri-Konark route is yet to be decided. Inside the holy city the rate would vary from Rs 4 to Rs 30.

As per the package designed by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Puri was to get a share of 25 buses, and Bhubaneswar 100, for the need of the city bus services. But, till date there are only 65 running in Bhubaneswar, 10 in Cuttack and five have been scheduled for Puri. According to sources, out of the 125 buses purchased for BPTSL, 45 are still lying idle and they are currently at the stockyards of the respective companies.

Apart from this, there are other problems that need quick attention. Construction of terminals is the major one. Though work in the regard has started, it’s going on at snail’s pace. Apart from that the present bus terminal at Pokhariput in Bhubaneswar is practically a place for maintenance. The depot does not have proper water source, ramps or even rest rooms for drivers and conductors

The services having started needs immediate attention from Government to succeed and make more inroads in the city. Meanwhile the rising popularity of these buses among the denizens is an encouraging sign.

An unfaltering spirit that moved Mountain: How a 70 year old fights with all odds to follow his dreams in orissa

Handloom of Orissa

Handloom of Orissa

At first sight nothing seems to set him apart from the crowd. At 70 Sashidhar Meher lives as any septuagenarian of his age should live! Except for the fact that behind  those ordinary looks and increasingly prominent wrinkles lay hidden the steely grit of a person who has dared to give wings to his aspirations that he had held close to heart for a lifetime!

A weaver by profession who lives in the nondescript Bhatli village of Bargarh district in Orissa, Sashidhar Meher has started a museum of handloom arts and crafts with his own efforts in his native village to keep alive traditional Sambalpuri handloom designs and instruments, most of which are already extinct from the commercial market.

The museum named Tantakala Sangrahalaya is located in a building just outside his village and aims to showcase an exhaustive collection related to the Sambalpuri handloom art and craft in the museum for future generations. Apart from hand loomed weaves, the museum also showcases various handloom instruments that were earlier used by weavers.

People in the neighborhood avouch by the passion of Sashidhar. A weaver himself, who has spent an entire life weaving handlooms and creating new and unique designs, Sashidhar spent considerable time collecting Sambalpuri weaves in various designs and putting them on display at his museum. Though an onerous task that may deter anybody, Sashidhar took it to himself to execute the task. He spent three years in collecting all the designs and equipments that are showcased here often traveling miles to get one piece of design.

Meher started the venture in his village after his retirement as chief designer from Sambalpuri Bastralaya in Bargarh in the year 2000. In his long career as a designer, Meher has to his credit the creation of more than 10,000 fabric designs, of which around 2,000 were totally exclusive and innovative. He has received state and national awards for his unique designs. Last year, he went to Bangkok to receive an international award for one of his ingenuous designs.

The people of Bhatli village are very proud to have an innovative weaver like Meher amongst them. They appealed to the government to provide financial assistance to help maintain the museum. “Meher’s effort at establishing Tantakala Sangrahalaya with his own savings and without any outside support is definitely commendable. But now it is the duty of the government to pay some attention to the noble venture and help him sustain the museum,” said Arjun Sahu, a resident of the village.

Junagarh: Maa Lankeshwari and Khandabasa Festival

Maa Lankeshwari

Maa Lankeshwari

Worshiping feminine energy and power of nature in the form of energy has been the center of different cults in Orissa since time immemorial. Harmonious to this practice, one can still find different forms of Mother worship in diffrenet regions of Orissa.

Traditionally Kalhandi is a district that has been dominated by the Nagas. And though there are many forms of mother worship prevalent in the district, it is the worship of Maa Lankeshwari in Junagarh which attracts lots of attention. Apart from the grandeur attached to her annual Khandabasa Festival, it’s the mythology surrounding the Goddess that make Her special cult deity of Kalahandi.

The Goddess Lankeshwari has been the Royal deity of the Junagarh since time immemorial. She had been the tutelary deity of number of Royal families of this region including the Chidakanaga, Gangas and the Naga. It is believed that originally she was the protector of Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana and was known as Lankini and Lanka Devi. The Banka paikas ( afighting clan) of Junagarh bought her here after defeating the king of Lanka. She has been worshipped with due reverence here ever since as a war goddess who not only confers victory and success in battlefield but also participates in the war against the enemy.

It is pertinent to mention here that associated with the Mother for a long time was the practice of human sacrifice. The place Junagarh in fact derives its name from this practice only. Earlier the place was known as Junabali or Jenabalipatna. The word Junabali is derived from two words “Jena” meaning human being and “Bali” meaning Sacrifice. The practice of human sacrifice, it is said was so common here that the annual festival of Khandabasa in Junagarh was not completed without sacrificing human beings. Similar was the practice of sacrificing vanquished kings in front of the idol of Mother Lankeshwari in her temple. This brutal form of appeasing the goddess is however history now, although animal sacrifice continue in some respect.

The image of Maa Lankeshwari is carved in black chlorite stone measuring 32” by 16”. The four armed deity sits in padmasana holding conch and disc in her upper left and right hands respectively while her lower right hand is raised in the benediction posture. The image belonging to the 8th Century A.D is an example of synchronization of Shakti worship ( that was prevalent then) and the Vaishnavite form of worship( that was gradually taking over Orissa at that period).

The Khandabasa Jatra of Maa Lankeswari

Khandabasa Jatra of Junagarh

Khandabasa Jatra of Junagarh

Associated with the Mother is the annual festival of Khandabasa Jatra that requires the Mother Lankeshwari to be costumed in her wardress by placing swords into her hands. The festival which continues for 15 days is celebrated during the times of Dusshera.

The festival which begins in the night of Mula Ashtami in the month of Ashwina continues for fifteen days. Per tradition the King of Kalahandi performs the worship every year by entering the temple premises. The Dakbunglow (government guesthouse) of Junagarh where the King of Kalahandi comes and stays to perform the rituals of the festivals become an integral part of the festival. Upon his arrival in the guesthouse, the king is greeted with Ghumra. The priest of the Lankeshwari temple takes out the two swords named Pata Khanda and Sanguari from the temple premises to the king. After the swords are washed and the purifying rites performed, the king enters the temple and places the two swords in Her hands. After lighting the “Akhanda” and “Mahajoga dipas”, the customary arati of the Mother is performed.

Then the ritual of animal sacrifice begins.A buffalo is sacrificed at the altar in order to appease the Mother. As a part of the continuing ritual the King then visits the Budharaja Temple and places the sword of in the hands of Lord Budharaja too. This marks the beginning of Khandabasa festival in Junagarh.

It is believed among the people that after the Khandabasa puja and animal sacrifice, if the sword stands straight, it beckons good prospects for Junagarh and Kalahandi. However if the swords tilt in some direction, it is an indication of impending natural calamity.

After the required rituals are performed, the priest visits the four Bhairavs and Mahamayas based on four directions of Junagarh and after performing the worships , returns to the Budharaja temple. Lord Budharaja though is identified as the Hindu deity of Shiva, is basically a tribal deity. The worshiping of Bahiravs in the Khandabasa festival is a direct outcome of Tantra worship. Khandabasa festival thus is a confluence tribal and non tribal elements of worship in Kalahandi. The survival of Saivism, continuation of Shakti form of Worship and persistence of Tantrism in the Khandabasa jatra makes it unique and the only of its kind in the entire country.

Maa Lankeswari is the deity of masses in Kalahandi. She is admired. She is revered. She is adorned and She is honored. At the same time She is feared by all. Her influence on the socio cultural life of people of Kalahandi can’t be constricted in words.

Gupteswar: A Place of Religious Sanctity in Orissa

lord Gupteswar of Orissa

lord Gupteswar of Orissa

In a land where religion is the essence of existence, it is but natural to find deities embedded in beliefs and lores of people. The same holds true for Lord Gupteswar of Jeypore. The deity is not just a godhead but the center of life of the people living in Koraput district. Not a task is performed by the people without seeking His divine blessing, not a morsel taken without offering Him His share first.

Lord Guptewsar also holds significance because of the allusions it finds in ancient texts like Ramayan. Places like Dandakaranya and Panchvati that have been significant in the life of Lord Rama( Lord Rama stayed here in exile with Sita and brother Laxman) have more often than not been ascribed to be belonging to Koraput district in Orissa. Many events and places that have blended in the folklore and life of people in Koraput directly or indirectly refer to it’s allegiance with Lord Rama. The poet Kalidas too, described the scenic beauty of the adjoining Ramgiri forest where the cave temple is referred to in his famous Meghadutam.

Gupteswar is one such place. An important place of worship of Lord Shiva, Gupteswar has its reputation spread far and wide. Huddled in a cave in deep forests of Jeypore, Lord Gupteswar is worshipped here as a Phallus (Shivalinga).

The Legend of Lord Gupteswar of Orissa

It is widely believed among the populace that Lord Rama, during his exile had stayed here in Dandakarnya – a deep forest. It was he who had discovered this self-formed (Swayambhu) phalanx of Lord Shiva in the cave and had started worshiping it. Since the shivalinga was unknown to the rest of the world, he named it GUPTESWAR – The secret Lord.

There is another interesting story associated with the rediscovery and proclamation of the holy shrine. It is said that King Vikram who ruled over Jeypore had once gone hunting. While chasing a deer, he entered into a cave which was being guarded by another man. Upon inquiry the man who himself professed to be a hunter, denied having seen a deer entering the cave. The tired king then follows his course to a small waterfall near the cave to quench his thirst. After this, he fell asleep in the cave and dreams of the presence of Lord Shiva in the cave. The king to his amazement, fails to track the other hunter upon waking and locates the Shivalinga in the cave instead. It later dawns to him that the hunter might be Lord Shiva Himself and the fawn, the Shivalinga. The king then proclaims the idol and Lord Gupteswar is brought to the attention of the people living there.

Lord Gupteswar: The Conferrer of Boons

Situated on the bank of Sabari river, Gupteswar is today a place that is thronged by devotees who believe that Lord Shiva grants the wishes of his devotees. Surrounded by a dense forest of sal trees the 2m high lingam stands in the cave One can reach it by climbing the 1000 steps flanked with rows of champak trees. The entrance of the cave is about 3 m wide and 2 m in height. There are also several other caves nearby. Inside the second cave there is a large stalactite. People worship it as the udder of God Kamadhenu (the divine cow) and wait under it with outstretched palms to collect drops of water which fall only at long intervals.

Also known as “Gupta Kedar” in the vicinity, the God is worshiped widely in the regions of Chattisgarh and even Andhra Prades. During the festivals of Maha Shivaratri, the cave shrine of Gupteswar is known to draw as many as 25000 devotees. Such is the belief of the local people that they arrive here in multitude and remain for months at a stretch to seek the divine blessings of lord Gupteswar. People suffering from incurable diseases come here to worship the God and remain here for months in the hope of getting cured.

The cave is today connected with the bottom of the hill with a flight of 1000 stepped staircase. This has made it possible to accommodate more and more devotees .Similarly a well connected road to the nearest town Jeypore and hotels near the temple has ensured that the devotees do not face any problem during their visit to Gupteswar.

Saptamatruka Temple of Jajpur

Saptamatruka Temple

Saptamatruka Temple

The Saptamatruka temple in Jajpur is one of the unique temples of Orissa as it is one of the few temples where the Mother is worshiped in different forms at the same place.The other precedent of such a temple in Orissa is the famous 64 yogini temple of Hirapur.

The Saptamatruka temple is located just beside the Baitrani river on the steps of the Dasaswamedha Ghat in Jajpur. The monument is a rectangular Khakara type of modern one.

The Sapta Matrukas or the seven mothers are female counterparts of corresponding male gods. The temple has however eight idols of different mothers. These idols were a part of a larger and more ornate temple which was destroyed by the Afghans in 1568 and the images thrown in the Baitrani river.

Later during the Marathha rule of Orissa, the images were recovered by a businessman from Cuttack who reinstalled them in the newly built temple in the Dasaswamedha Ghat.

Saptamatrukas - The Seven Mothers

Saptamatrukas - The Seven Mothers

The Saptamatrukas are









Though all the images are assigned to the same period i.e 10th century A.D. and are distinctly similar in sculpture, the theme surrounding each Matruka is different from the other. It is widely believed that the Matrukas were originally a part of a beautifully carved temple which had been built by a Bhaumkar king.

The Saptamatruka temple of Jajpur is the symbol of rich cultural heritage that the ancient town of Jajpur held. Analyzing each component of the idol in the temple gives just a peek of what was once a flourishing culture in orissa on the bank of the river Baitrani.

Baba Akhandalamani of Aradi : An Important place of Shiva Worship in Orissa

Lord Akhandalamani

Lord Akhandalamani

The temple of Lord Akhandalamani at Aradi is one of the most important seats of Shiva Worship in Orissa and in all  probability the most significant one outside Bhubaneswar. The tall edifice stands amidst the vast blue expanse of river Baitrani on one side and river Salandi on the other. The sacred place is ascribed to be the location where Lord Shiva instructed Goddess Pavati into the austere philosophies about the Self.

Constructed by the queen Satyabhama Devi who was the wife of the king of Kanika, the temple is massive.Though bereft of much artistic splendor, some idols at the temple draw resemblance to those at Konark temple. Both the temple and the phalanx of Lord Shiva (shivling) here, date no further back than 17th century A.D.

Legend of Baba Akhandalamani

Folklore are abound among the locals of Aradi regarding the installation of Baba Akhandalamani as the Godhead of this popular temple at Aradi. It is said that the phallus ( shiva linga) was discovered accidentally around 350 years ago as one of the peasants of Raja Sri Niladri Samara Singha Mohapatrawas was ploughing the paddy field on the bank of the river Baitarani.

While cultivating, the blade of his plough struck a rock and broke. When the peasant dug deeper to remove the rock, he was shocked to find a black glazed granite stone dripping with stream of blood. Shell shocked and frightened, the peasant ran towards the king. There were more surprises waiting as the king upon his arrival found the place flooded with milk and the rock being hooded by a large cobra. That night the king dreamt of the arrival of the God Akhandalamani on that place. This news spread like wild fire in the locality.

The next day the king started worshiping the great god by building a wooden temple on the spot. The king invited five Brahmins from a village named Naharagrama of Jajapur district to perform seva-puja (Worshiping and taking care) of lord Akhandalamani.

Aradi today is one of the most important destinations for devotees for Shiva worship in Orissa. Festival of Mahashivaratri is celebrated with unusual fervor here. During these times of the year the place is flooded with lakhs of devotees who turn to the temple seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva. It is also a common belief among people that one who is suffering from incurable diseases is immediately relieved from his ailments, if he takes to the shelter of Lord Shiva and remains lying in the feet of the Lord at this temple.