Lord Jagannath and Goddess Maa Hingula
BY: BARADA PRASANNA DAS
Dec 29, PURI, ORISSA (SUN) The Goddess Hingula is worshipped with great devotion by the people of the surrounding areas of Puri, Orissa. Goddess Hingula is the personification of the agni (fire) in the Kitchen of Lord Jagannath at Shree Mandir Puri. Maa Hingula, who manifests herself in the form of fire, is another name for the Cosmic Mother. Every year on Bishnu Damanak Chaturdashi (Chaitra Sukla Chaturdashi), the Goddess gives darshan to Her devotees in a state of burning fire at a spot near Hingula temple in Gopal Prasad, one of the famous 'Shakti Pitha' in the country.
There are many similarities between Hingula Yatra and Ratha Yatra. It is said that while Gopal Prasad is the 'Puja Sthali' of the Goddess, Shree Mandir is Her 'Karma Sthali.' When Lord Siva had torn apart the body of Sati (Parbati), each of the 52 pieces that fell was known as 'Shakti Pitha'. But a piece identified as Brahmandreya fell at Beluchistan, of present Pakistan, where shakti appeared in a burning fire state.
In due course of time, Nala Raja of Vidarva region of western India became an ardent devotee of Maa who resided in his kingdom. In Puri, when the Raja decided to start 'anna prasad', Lord Jagannath responding to His prayer asked him to bring Hingula to manage his kitchen. Accordingly, Puri Raja went to Vidarva and requested him to pray to Maa to come to Puri. Nala Raja on the request of Puri Raja brought the Goddess on his wrapper in the form of fire, and in the course of his journey reached Gopalgarh, where he took rest.
The Goddess told Raja in his dream that Gopalgarh will be Her 'Puja Pitha' and since 1575, Maa has been worshipped here through the Hingula yatra. Birbar Harichandan was the first king of Talcher who started the festival.
On Sukla Chaturdashi of Chaitra month the Goddess takes leave from Sri Mandir kitchen and gives darshan to devotees here in the form of burning fire. Before some days of the Chaturdashi, Maa appears near the temple and informs the chief 'Dehury' about the location of the burning spot, which is kept surrounded with heaps of coal till the yatra.
On the day of yatra, a canopy given by the king of Talcher is placed above the fire and thousands of devotees from far and wide, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, offer bhoga into the fire. Interestingly, the canopy does not burn. After nine days a puja called 'sital' is performed on the spot by the Talcher king and Dehury (Worshipper).