Goddess Bhattarika Devi shrine of Badamba in Odisha
The state of Odisha is home to many temples and holy places making it one of the premier pilgrimage destinations in the country. Devi Bhattarika pitha in Cuttack district is one of these places. Nestled in the village of Sasanga of Badamba tehsil at the foothill of Ratnagiri on the bank of River Mahanadi, the shrine is dedicated to Goddess Bhattarika, a manifestation of Shakti. The mother Goddess is considered the presiding deity of Badamba.
As per a legend, in the Tretaya yug, Parashuram (God with an axe and considered one of the ten manifestations of Lord Vishnu of Hindu Trinity) had visited Ratnagiri. He could feel here the presence of some sort of divine power after his axe fell from his hand. He started meditating and sensed presence of Goddess Bhattarika and sought Her blessings. Hence the place is also called Parsuram pitha.
Shisir Kumar, the main priest (‘Arba’ pujaka in Odia) says, “Long ago tradition of human sacrifice was prevalent here. As per the ancient ritual, the prey would be left alone (to die) at the place as an offering. However, after a while, he would be found alive near the temple. Belief is that since the mother Goddess doesn’t accept Her son as an offering, She returns the human, unharmed.”
“Every year a boy drowns in the nearby river. However, to everybody’s astonishment the same boy is found later in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple after being left by a consecrated crocodile,” he adds.
Ritual of Goddess Bhattarika begins at 3 am every day. Fish, Khechudi, and pitha are offered to the Goddess.
The major festival of Bhattarika pitha is observed from Mulastami to Dusshera every year. On the eighth (Ashtami) day the Goddess manifests into the body of the priest (Agrapujaka). He hails a long sword and enters the sanctum sanctorum of the temple to perform certain secret rituals. A huge number of devotees flock to the destination on this occasion.
A sacred branch (daala) merged in the holy water (paduka) blessed by the deity is believed to retain enormous divine power. It is believed that the same can bless a couple with a son. Even it cures disease seen in cows.
Another astounding factor related to the shrine is that one can have a glimpse of the temple of Kantilo’s Nilamadhava standing on the bank of the River Mahanadi. On the other hand, one can also see Devi Bhattarika’s temple standing on the other bank from near the Nilamadhav temple.
Located at a distance of 12 km from Badamba town the shrine is associated with many legends. Regular public bus service is available right to the spot from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Devotees visit the temple across the year.
With inputs from Tathagata Biswal, K News