Mysterious Liveliness of Maa Ambika

By: Rusiraj Pattanayak

Have you ever seen a Maa Durga idol having four hands, armed with “trisul, khanda and kharpar” and seated on lion so calm, harmonious and cheerful ?

She is our revered beloved Maa Ambika, the presiding deity of Baripada town (The living Goddess) the district headquarters of Mayurbhanj district. Placed inside a small temple on the main road close to the king’s palace, the ever loving Mother emits peace, cheer and gladness just like a perennial River.

Though most of the abodes of Goddesses across the country give vibrant feeling, the small temple of this Great Mother emits peace and tranquility according to the devotees regularly visiting the shrine.

One can see this calm and cool idol from every corner of the temple. “The idol is so made and placed inside the temple that everybody will get the feeling that the Mother is looking at him or her alone, asking about well-being of their families,” said an ardent devotee. The perpetual Love for our Maa is so profound that people in tenderness call her Budhi( ବୁଢ଼ୀ )also.

Nobody exactly knows the origin of Maa Ambika and how she came to the limelight at Baripada. Even the then kings of Bhanja dynasty had not built the temple nor they patronized the temple. The kings have also not attached any landed property to the temple, historians said. But in earlier days, she was named as Maa Amlai and in course of time the name gradually changed and called her Maa Ambika .

However, during the last part of 1800 AD, Maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanjadeo had made arrangement to offer Rs 36 a year. The Maharaja made this offer in order to save himself from deadly small pox disease.

“Maa was found by someone close to Baga Samal Gada (ବଗସାମଲ ଗଡ଼), a water body close to the present temple. Since then She is worshiped by a Brahmin family,” said a local priest adding that the Goddess is worshiped in a different ritual.

However, people undertaking research on the history of Mayurbhanj district point out that Maa Ambika’s existence came to the lime light about 1,000 years ago.  The presence of Maa Ambika was also noted in a book published by the Archeological Survey Mayurbhanj in 1911.

The devotees of Maa Ambika, however, never wanted to know how and from where the Goddess came and made her abode. The entire Baripada town believed that She is the mother for all. The local tribals too trust that Maa Ambika was their own Goddess and so also kings and commoners.

There is no long legend behind Maa Ambika. However, the personal experience of many people creates a separate identity for the Goddess.

One I was closing the temple gate when a woman called me to keep the doors open. She was collecting some Prasad from the nearby shop. I kept on waiting for about half-an-hour. But she did not reach the temple. Later a group of women holding offerings arrived at the temple,” said Jagneswar Dash, the chief priest.

When the priest asked women why they kept him waiting for a long time, the women were astonished. They expressed complete innocence and claimed that they had never requested the priest to keep the temple gate open. 

“Later I realized the actual matter. I came to the conclusion that it was voice of Maa Ambika who gave a call from outside in guise of a woman to keep the temple door open for Her devotees,” said Dash.

There were many such personal experiences on Maa Ambika. The importance of Maa Ambika is not in the books, but in the feelings of many men, women and children who pray Her.

(Special Thanks: Sri Braja Kishore Mishra)

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