Odisha: Vijaya Yatra of Maa Bhandara Gharani, Nabarangpur

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Report by Basant Rath, Nabarangpur: Dussehra is celebrated for 10 days from sukla pratipada to dasami here. The raja purahitio Narashingo Tripathy, lays down the puja procedure. According to his directions, at least 15 priests
participate in the puja at Maa Bhandaragharani. On Maha Astami day, animals are sacrificed at the temple. Ancient in origin and existence, Maa Bhandaragharani earlier resided at Jagarnathpur, distant 20 Kms from Nabarangpur town. Subsequently the raja (King) installed the Goddess at Nabarangpur town. Since that day, Maa Bhandaragharani is worshipped by the people as Shakti, the source of power.

The presiding deity of Nabarangpur town, Maa Bhandargharani, is adored by devotees, not only from the locality, but also from several villages, far and near. Each village deity, represented by a well-decorated bamboo pole, is carried by hand, accompanied by flags, drum-beats and priestly chants. They throng the temple in large numbers from Jagarnathpur the place Maa Bhandaragharani is originally from, Daspur, Miriganguda, Kusumi, Dedashpalli, Manjar, Daula, Kangara, Eakomba, Nandahandi, Nishnahandi, Maliguda and other parts of the district. Conspicuous amongst them is the representative of the
Goddess Pendrani from Umerkote, which stops at Bhadaragharani temple briefly en route to Jeypore.

They traditionally lead a procession accompanied by large bamboo poles representing the local deities, through the overcrowded main road. The procession is called Vijayayatra. The procession winds its way to Dussehra-Pada, an open space. When the deity is to be worshipped again, a brinjal atop a bamboo pole is targeted by shooters, with bow and arrow. The collapse of the brinjal marks the end of the ceremony and the whole festival. The pole-bearers are a sight to see. Some move around in rhythm-less contours, contorting their entire body. They are often assisted by men who follow them to de-contort them. It may appear frivolous to the sceptics, but a great event to the believers.

Dussehra evening is a wonderful and colourful evening of light andsound, pomp and ceremony. It is as if the joy, hope and enthusiasm of the people of Nabarangpur converge at this very moment. The temple road is lined with people from all parts of the state.

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