Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sacred Shakti Peethas: The Northern Trail (Part 1)

According to ancient Hindu texts, King Daksha disapproved of the marriage between his daughter Sati and Lord Shiva. After Sati got married to Shiva, he organised a 'yagna', which is a prayer ceremony, and invited all the deities and heavenly creations and dignitaries, except Sati and Shiva. Due to being ridiculed by the king and the guests. Angry and insulted, Sati sacrificed her body that was given to her by her father.When Lord Shiva came to know of his wife's death, enraged Shiva started dancing with the deceased body (Tandava Nritya). To control this destructive dance of Shiva , Vishnu dismembered Sati's body into 54 pieces and dispersed them all over the world. Wherever her body parts fell, temples called Peetha or Shakti Peethas were established.

Shakti Peethas are some of the most revered sites in the Hindu religion. The Shakti Peethas are places of worship consecrated to the goddess 'Shakti', the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect. Shaki is often associated both with Gowrī / Parvati, the benevolent goddess of harmony, marital felicity and longevity, with Durga, goddess of strength and valour, and with Mahakali, goddess of destruction of the evil.Shakti Peethas are shrines or divine places of the Mother Goddess. There are 54 Shakti Peeth linking to the 54 alphabets in Sanskrit.

Five Shakti Peethas are situated across Bangladesh. They are: Bogra, Sylhet, Barishal, Khulna and Chittagong. This two part blog will provide details of all these sites across the country.

This piece will focus on the Shaki Peethas in the northern belt of Bangladesh. In northern part of the country, there are two Shakti Peethas: one is Shri Shail Temple in Sylhet and the other is Bhabanipur Temple Complex in Bogra.

Shri Shail Temple:
Shri Shail inside neck

Shri Shail Temple is one of the Shakti Peethas which is located at Joinpur village, Dakshin Surma, near Gotatikar, 3 km north-east of Sylhet town, Bangladesh. The Hindu Goddess Sati's neck fell here. The Goddess is worshipped as Mahalaksmi and the Bhairav form is Sambaranand. Shakti Peethas are believed to have been enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered throughout the land in sorrow. Each temple has shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava

Bhabanipur Temple Complex: 
(collected from The Daily Star, originally published on 22nd May, 2015).

Photo courtesy:The Daily Star
Not too many people are aware of a small village that is rich in historical relics, called Bhabanipur. If you go a few kilometres south-west from Bogra, you will get to enjoy a historically significant, yet relatively unknown, landmark of our country – the Bhabanipur temple. Legend has it that the left anklet of Sati fell in Sherpur Upazila of Bogra, Bangladesh and the Bhabanipur temple, as a Shakti Peetha was erected there and become an important Hindu pilgrimage that is deeply respected by the devotees from all over the country. Later, Rani Bhabani had made significant renovations in the Bhabanipur temple and the Goddess Ma Tara of the Bhabanipur temple is named after Rani Bhabani. This legendary structure is equipped with a south facing key temple, Shiv temples, Naat temple, guest rooms, Bashudeb temple, the Shakhari pond and a few other temples.

So next time your are either in Sylhet or in Bogra, do take the time out to visit these sacred sites which are valuable edifices of our history.

Photo Credit: Internet

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