Oct. 30, 2020, 10:34 a.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 503 views)
Samaleswari Temple in Sambalpur, Western Odisha, is dedicated to the goddess Samlei Maa.
The temple is built in the Kalinga style of architecture & is situated on the bank of the river Mahanadi .
Since time immemorial, the mother goddess Samaleswari is worshipped as Jagatjanani, Adishakti, Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati.
The region in which the temple is situated has a rich cultural heritage. Sambalpur region is popularly known as Hirakhanda from ancient times. Ptolemy has described the place as Sambalak, According to Tavernir, the French traveller, and Edward Gibbon, the English historian, diamonds were exported to Rome from Sambalpur.
Samaleswari temple was built in the middle of the 16th century. It was rebuilt by the 7th independent king of Sambalpur namely Chhatra Sai Deo who reigned from 1657 to 1665 AD. Some historians say that the idol of goddess Samaleswari under the simili tree was worshipped by tribals from the third century A.D. till the temple was built by Balaram Deo.
The temple comprises two separate structures. The square sanctum sanctorum enshrining the deity is four steps below the 10-foot-wide (3.0 m) covered circumambulation, which is supported by 12 stone pillars. The Idol of Shree Shree Samalai Devi consists of a large block of Granite rock with an inverted, trunk like projection at the bottom. A shallow cut on her "Baraha" like face symbolises her mouth. Traditional Sambalpuri nose ornament of pure gold hangs down from her imaginary nose. Beaten gold leaves fixed on two disproportionate golden eyes like depression on the face depicts her eyes and the idol inspires sentiments of awe, fear, reverence and devotion in her devotees.
The two Navratra pujas and the nuakhai festival are the most important religious celebrations in this temple.
It is believed that on the last day of the Pitru Pakshya, on Mahalaya,the holy darshan of the Goddess in Dhabalmukhi besha, is equivalent to the virtue of Ganga darshan. The rest of the year the goddess is adorned in the "sindurabarana" besha.
The main priest of the Samaleswari Temple is a descendant of the Chouhan dynasty. Apart from the tribal influence, the rituals of the temple have an element of tantra as well. She is offered both vegetarian and non-vegetarian bhog on specific days.
Shree Shree Samaleswari, the presiding deity of Sambalpur, is a strong religious force in the western part of Orissa and Chhattisgarh and the temple of the goddess is the symbol of western Orissa.