Date- 17th October.
Location- Kanaka Durga temple, Indrakeeladri hill- Vijayawada.
I was trying to maintain my balance as a hundred people propelled their bodies forward as the queue moved on inside the temple complex. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to visit the holy temple this festival. With some help from dad’s colleagues in office, we were able to secure special passes for the darshan. That did not help much as some of the most important people in the state craned their necks and tried to stand on their toes just to get a glimpse of the holy mother.
So, why is this temple so famous? Why do so many people come here when there are so many other temples?” I asked dad, as we waited for a VIP to finish his special pooja.
Dad adjusted his voice and started telling me the history of the temple.
“Once upon a time, demons and humans lived together on the earth. It is said that the growing menace of demons became unbearable for the humans. A sage named, Indrakila practiced severe penance, invoked Goddess Durga. When the goddess appeared the sage pleaded her to reside on his head and keep vigil on the wicked demons. Goddess Durga agreed and made Indrakila her permanent abode. Later, She also slayed the demon king Mahishasura freeing the people from his evil. To celebrate the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon king Mahishasura and to worship the goddess, the temple was built and the ten day celebration, “Navaratri” originated.” My dad narrated as we moved further into the temple complex.
“What form is the goddess adorned in today?” Someone enquired my dad.
“Since it is the final day of the Navaratri, she will be taking the form of Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi.” My dad told him, as I looked enquiringly at him.
My dad started to explain what the form was all about.
“Sri Kanaka Durga Devi, the chief deity of the temple is portrayed as blessing the visiting devotees in various forms (avatars) during the ten day festival. A symbolic representation of the 10 forms of triumph of good over evil, this form (known as 'Alankaram') of the day is chosen as per the astrological star of each day, in accordance with the lunar calendar. The goddess takes on the forms of, Sri Swarna Kavachalakruta Durga Devi, Sri Bala Tripura Sundari Devi, Sri Annapurna Devi, Sri Gayatri Devi, Sri Lalitha Tripura Sundari Devi, Sri Saraswathi Devi, Sri Maha Lakshmi Devi, Sri Durga Devi, Sri Mahishasura Mardhani Devi and Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi during the course of the festival.” My dad told me.
I was wondering in awe at the richness of the history that created this place where I was standing now. We made it to the final part of the temple called the “Garbha gudi” where the main deity was kept. We were able to see the goddess for a very short span of time as the people pushed on. But the picture of the goddess froze in my mind in a picture perfect frame. A picture of tranquility and generosity showed on her beautiful face adorned with turmeric and fresh flowers. She was holding a sugarcane stick in one hand, the goddess who bestowed prosperity.
We came out of the temple and sat in the huge porch of the temple strewn with herds of people moving about busily trying to get into the temple. My dad got the Prasadam that we happily ate. The whole visit made me realize how people can be brought together in the name of festivals and celebrations. Everyone looked happy and radiant.
The drive down the hill was very pleasant with the huge flood lights reflecting in the rippling waters of the river Krishna. The devotees marched down the temple in huge groups as a ritual to please the holy mother and to wash off their sins. They sing songs in praise of the holy mother as we add chorus to the fervent chanting’s.
The rippling waves of the river Krishna and the chanting’s of goddess Durga fade away, as I find myself on the bed again, homesick and fed up with my current life. I have to do something to get myself out of this misery, I thought to myself.