Manikeswari is one of the popular Hindu deity in Orissa. There are many Manikeswari temples present in Western and Southern part of Orissa.Manikeswari temple in Bhawanipatna is well recognized in Orissa. Manikeswari is also the primary deity associated with the royal family of Paralakhemundi in Gajapati. Chhatar Jatra is one of the most popoular festival of Manikeswari at Bhawanipatna. Khandasadhaka is a festival associated with Manikeswari in Paralakhemundi. Deity Manikeswari is the tutelary goddess of Kalahandi. The name of the deity is significant as it is believed that the name of the deity Manikeswari has been derived from the word Manikya (Ruby). The Kalahandi region is famous for various types of gemstones including that of Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, Iogite and many other verities of gemstones. Kalahandi was known as “Karund” and till 18th century the Naga kings of Kalahandi were known as Karundadhipati. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Page 478, Vol. 6 the nameCorundum (base metal of Ruby) is derived from its place where it is collected. Incidentally the Sanskrit name of Corundum is Korund or Kurundum. It is believed from Kurundum the old name of Kalahandi i.e. Karund was derived and from it the word Corundum was derived. The Chindakanaga kings of 12th and 13th century A.D. were worshippers of Goddess Manikya Devi alias Manikeswari which is known from Jatanpal, Dantewara and Bhairamgarh inscriptions.
History of Manikeswari:
The deity of Chakrakotamandala comprising present days Kalahandi, Koraput and Bastar was Manikya debi or Manikeswari around 10th century A.D. Later on Kalahandi king Harichandra Deo struggled and died because of which his pregnant queen left for her father’s house in Gadapur, Phulbani. Some part of Phulbani was part of Mahakantara in ancient time and Chakrakota Mandala. Though capital of Chakrakotamandala is still being debated, it is clear that it has many similar with Kamala Mandala, another ancient name of Kalahandi, Manikya Devi came to Gadapur perhaps due to influence of Chakrakota Mandala. Later on, queen along with her son, Ramchandra Deo returned with Manikya Debi or Manikeswari as per Kalahandi’s public request that time. Manikeswari was brought from Gadapur (Phulbani) around 1200 A.D and it was located in Kalahandi. Manikeswari was also popularized by Suryabansi Gajapati in 15th -16th century in Puri region. Purushottam Dev Gajapati considered Manikeswari as consort of Lord Jagannath and made a shrine of Manikeswari at Chilika, now doesn’t exist. Manikeswari is royal family deity of Parlakhemundi. Manikeswari was installed in Bhawanipatna much later around 1849 AD during shifting of the capital from Junagarh. Some people also mention Manikeswari in Thumaul Rampur as Adipitha and Devi was brought to Bhawanipatna from there. Uditnarayan Deo laid the foundation of the present modern temple in Bhawanipatna and it was completed in 1947 by Brajamohan Deo. Manikeswari was associated with Kalahandi history as a goddess of wealth, Manik, since 10th century. There is some debate to relate Manikeswari with Stambeswari temple in Asurgarh-Narla around 5-6th century as well as Maningeeswari in Banapur in Puri. There are many Manikeswari worshiping locations in many place of Orissa and Chhattisgarh, especially in undivided districts of Koraput, Phulbani-Boudh, Bolangir-Sonepur, Ganjam-Gajapati, Angul-Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Sundergarh, etc. due to influence by various rulers. Though Manikeswari has lots of historical significance in Orissa and Chhattisgarh, it is not yet fully come to lime light.
There are three other small Rekha shrine temples of Vaishavi in the North of the temple, Narasimhi in the West and Varahi in the South. Combingly the temple complex has a gigantic look. Manikeswari though having conception of Chhinnamasta from its iconography it is worshipped in the Ekakhyra mantra of Kali. Chhatra Yatra & Manikeswari Temple Orissa Review September – 2009 Apart from Bhawanipatna Manikeswari is worshipped also in Sankhemundi, Paralakhemundi, Sonepur, Kashipur and also in Thuamul Rampur and Jugsaipatna of Kalahandi district. The main Temple of Manikeswari is situated in the campus of the Palace of Naga kings of Kalahandi at Bhawanipatna. Manikeswari deity is a happy blending between Tribal and Non-Tribal culture. There is close resemblence between the iconography of Stambeswari or pillar worship and the present Manikeswari deity. Significantly the Manikeswari deity of Bhawanipatna is headless. And the body is only a cylindrical structure and over it a clay head has been fixed and the body is covered by cloths and ornaments. Like Navakalebara of Jagannath each year on Mulastami day a clay head of the deity is placed engraved with gems after replacing the old head, which is immersed in the midnight in the Purusottam Sagar adjacent to the temple amidst secret ritual. Besides this tradition several other traditions and rituals are also linked with deity Manikeswari. Similarly another interesting ritual is observed before deity Budharaja (Bhairaba) located in a small temple in the northern side of the Manikeswari temple. It is only once in a year on the occasion of Mahastami this temple is opened and offerings offered. After offering before Budharaja, theChhatar of Manikeswari is left for Jenakhal and makes its return journey on Navami early morning known as Chhatar Yatra. Interestingly although Navanna or Nuakhai is observed before other deities and people observing Nuakhai either on Rushi Panchami (Bhadrava Shukla Pakshya Panchami) or Bhadrava Shukla Pakshya Dasami, the new rice is offered to Budharaja only on Mahastami i.e. the day when the temple is opened for the day. So the royal family after waiting for the occasion take Navanna only on next day i.e. Mahanavami after Chhatar Yatra of deity of Manikeswari. This is an unique tradition. Besides. Manikeswari Deity being a happy blending between Tribal and Non-Tribal culture. There is close resemblence between the icnography of Stambeswari or pillar worship and the present Manikeswari deity. Kondhs treat Maniksairo as the sister of the deity Dharnipenu. A narrative song of Kondh tribe says : “Juhar Juhar Manikesari Maa Raije Maharani Sayabani mahan Laybani mahan Dharni San Baheni” So there is a belief that the deity Manikeswari in the present form and Kondh traditional Manikesari is interrelated and through the universalisation process the present form of Tantra worship of deity evolved. In the similar process there is evolution of Kondh male deity Budhapenu taking evolution of Budharaja or Bhairaba. The Sharadiya Utsav of Deity Manikeswari starts fromMulastami and the most important function is Astami, Navami and Dashami. After Sandhi Puja of Mahastami the Chhatra of deity is taken to Jenakhal in the outskirt of the town. On the early hours of Mahanavami the Chhatra makes its return journey to the temple accompanied by Jenabadya, Ghumura, Nishan, Ghanta. The chorus creates a thrilling sensation and a sense of awe and wonder to the lakhs of devotees congregate from different parts of the State including neighbouring States. As a mark of fulfillment of wishes devotees make offerings. It is an occasion for every body irrespective of caste, creed and religion to find the Deity amidst them.
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