Rituals for Autumnal car festival begins in Maa Biraja temple

Jajpur: The ‘Vanayāga’ ceremony for Maa Biraja’s car festival has been conducted. The autumnal Durgāpūjā festival in Biraja’s temple starts from the auspicious occassion of Suniā which is observed on the 12th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhādrapada (September). The ‘Vanayāga’ ceremony or Vilwa-Varana has been conducted for collecting the wood necessary for the construction of Simhadhvaja Ratha or chariot that carries the deity during autumnal festivals. The construction of the chariot starts form the day of Suniā.

After the traditional rituals the worship of lord Gaṇeśa and Goddess Saraśvatī was performed in the evening and the cutting of Gold (Svaraṇachedani) was held. Mangalārpaṇa was done before the Goddess.

According to the traditions, after the completion of the rituals, the Vilwa tree marked for construction of the Goddess’ Simhadhvaja Ratha was cut down and the wood was collected.

This year, wood for the chariot has been collected from the backyard of Brundaban Senapati, who lives in Hatapatana village.

All the rituals are being overseen by the temple administration.

Rathayātrā or the car festival of Goddess Biraja is the most important festival of Jajpur. During Durgā pūjā it is celebrated for nine days form the first day of the bright fortnight (Pratipada) of the month of Āśvina (September-October). The wooden chariot of Goddess Biraja is placed in front of the lion’s gate (Simhadvara). After the traditional morning rituals the consecration work of the chariot named Simhadhvaja is held on the Pratiṣṭhā Maṇḍapa. After the yajna or sacrificial work is over, the representative deity of Goddess Biraja is ushered into the massive decorated chariot parked in front of the lion’s Gate in a special ceremonial procession arranged by the temple administration.

Biraja is the only ‘Shakti Peeth’ in India that has a car festival. During the festival, the chariot of the Goddess moves continuously around the temple for nine days, and is known as ‘Chalanti Pratima’.

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