Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

As the festive season of Dussehra kicked in, the complete process of performing pooja rituals of Maa Ramchandi, the presiding deity of Konark, and Maa Baliharchandi in Puri district have begun at the holy places on Monday. 

To please the presiding deity, apart from offering grilled fish, recitation of the deity's mantra 'Chandipath' is being performed twice a day at Maa Ramchandi peeth. 

There are several historic tales associated with Maa Ramchandi's Peeth, which is located at the estuary of the holy river Kushabhadra and is one of the Astashakti Peeths. 

As per Madala Panji and mythological belief, Ashta Chandi were placed in different locations of Konark as the guardian of the place of which Maa Ramchandi is one. From Mula Ashtami to Maha-Ashtami in Ashwini month, special pooja rituals are carried out at the Shakti Peeth. 

One of the most famous tales is Lord Shri Ram offering prayers at this Shakti Peeth before constructing Ram Setu. While Chandipath is done once a day at other Shakti Peeths, the same ritual is done twice a day at Maa Ramchandi Peeth. 

"The importance of this Shaktipeeth is, before Lord Ram visited this place, Maa Ramchandi was already existing. Earlier, Chandipath was done once in a day but after Lord Ram's visit, one more Chandipath was added. Even two different types of bhogs are offered in a day. Since ages, this ritual has been followed," informed a servitor at the Shakti Peeth.

While the entire area is drenched in the mood of festivity and devotion, a large number of devotees are thronging the Shakti Peeth. The devotees are extremely delighted for being allowed for darshan after a long gap owing to the Covid restrictions.

On the other hand, the special pooja rituals have also begun at another Shaktipeeth, Maa Baliharchandi in Puri district. After performing the initial rituals and Ghata Sthapana, Sandhi pooja was performed, Later, after worshipping the Sun God, the rituals of Sodasa Upachar were carried out. Starting from Mula Asthami, the rituals will be performed for 16 days till Maha Ashtami. Even at this Shakti Peeth, Chandipath will be performed twice a day and four times the Goddess will be adorned with different beshas.

As a part of the pooja rituals, offerings of 'bhog' are made twice a day including 'Bala dhoopa'. For 16 days, the goddess will be offered grilled fish along with other bhogs. 

To witness the special pooja rituals, the Shakti Peeth generally gets crowded with a large number of devotees.