Maa Kiriteswari

Introduction

Maa Kiriteswari temple is one of the 52 major Shakti peetas. The devi’s crown or Kirit fell at Kiritkona village. Here devi is worshipped as Vimala or pureand Shiva as Sangbart or Sambarta. The Shakti Peet at Maa Kiriteswari temple is considered as an Upapeeta, as no limb or part of the body fell here, but only a portion of her ornament fell here.

Location

Maa Kiriteswari temple is located in Kiritkona village, near Lalbagh court road, in Murshidabad district, West Bengal.

The Deity

The unique feature of this temple is the absence of any image or deity.  Here Goddess Maa Kiriteswari, also known as Mukuteshwari, (as her mukut or crown fell) is represented only by a Red coloured stone which is worshipped by devotees.  The Red coloured stone is covered with a veil and is changed only on Ashtami of each Durga Puja and given a sacred bath. The Kirit or crown has been worshipped through ages. At present, the headdress is preserved at Rani Bhabani’s Guptamath* opposite the temple. There is a high altar on which a small altar is seen. Here the face of Maa Kiriteshwari is indexed.

*Rani Bhabani was a zamindar of Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh). She was known for her philanthropy and generosity. She is believed to have constructed over hundreds of guest houses and temples across Bengal.  She has contributed generously to the construction of water tanks and educational institutions.

In the Shiva temple, nearby, there is a lingam of black stone. Black marble stone has been used for seating of the devotees.

Tourist information

The temple can be reached by taking a train to Ajimganj (located on the western side of River Bhagirathi) Vatanagar. The place is three kilometres from Lalbagh court road station near Berhampur, West Bengal. The temple can also be reached from Dahapara railway station which is five kilometres away from the temple. The nearest airport is Dum Dum.

Several other places of interest located near the temple are Roshini Bagh (burial chamber of Sauja Uddin Khan) Jagat Bandhu Dham (also known as Dahapara ashram, birth place of Prabhu Jagatbandhu Sunder) Bara Nagar (built by queen of Natore, Bhabani) and Kosh Bagh (a sanctuary and funeral land of the last Nawabs of Bengal) During the rainy season, it is difficult to reach the temple as the marshes become full of water and snakes and insects abound.

History

Maa Kiriteshwari temple was built by King Darpanarayana Roy during the 19th century. Yogendranaryan Roy, the late king of Lalgola had renovated and taken care of the temple built by Darpanarayan Roy. The original temple was destroyed in 1405 It is said that Maa Kiriteshwari was the presiding deity of the ruling house of Murshidabad. When the ruling families of Murshidabad capital were at the height of glory, Kiriteshwari Devi was worshipped by hundreds of devotees every day.

Mangal Vaishnab, a contemporary of Mahaprabhu Chaitanya Deva* was a shebait of the kiriteshwari temple. (shebait refers to a person who serves the deity consecrated in the temple)

*Chaitanya Mahaprabhu born on 18 February 1486 was revered by devotees as an incarnation of Lord Krishna and Radha. He was a social reformer in eastern India during 1486-1534.

He along with his followers repaired the temple and made arrangements for the regular worship of the deity.  It is also said that Bhagwan Roy received the land for the temple from Akbar, the Great. The old temple built by Bhagwan Roy was southern entranced and the new temple built by Dharpanarayan Roy was eastern entranced. With the setting of Muslim rule and the advent of British rule, the glory of Kiriteshwari temple came to an end.

Rituals

Festivals are held on the day of Durga Puja, Amavasya and Kali Puja. A special ritual is held during every new moon. Fruits and annabogh are offered to Goddess Kiriteshwari with the whole night yagna. The temple is open from 6.00 am to 10.00pm. Daily anna-bogh is offered to Maa in the noon.

Besides, the festivals, Kiriteshwari Fair is held every Tuesday in the month of poush on the banks of River Bhagirathi with other special customs.

Significance

Legends, role/ form of Shiva, benefits of worshipping Devi

There are several legends about Kiriteshwari temple. One day a bangle seller who was fatigued stepped down to drink water from the tank located near the temple.  On the next step to the water, he saw a young girl performing her ablutions. She prevailed upon the bangle seller to sell her a pair of bangles. The bangle seller slided the bangles into the hands of the young girl. When the bangle seller demanded the price, the young girl referred him to her father, the Shebait or the caretaker of the deity at the Maa Kiriteshwari temple. She also mentioned that the money can be had at a certain place in the house. When the bangle seller approached the shebait, he thought the bangle seller to be a cheat demanding money, for he had no daughter. Then the bangle seller indicated the place in the house where the money was kept as told by the young girl. Upon searching the place, the bangle seller and the shebait indeed found the money, although no money was kept there earlier. The shebait still suspicious about the seller asked him to show him where his daughter was. When both of them came to the steps of the tank, there was no one in sight. The seller began to weep as he was reprimanded by the shebait as a cheat, and then a pair of beautiful hands with the light of divinity and bedecked appeared in the middle of the deep tank with a new pair of bangles and disappeared immediately. Both of them were astonished at what they saw.

There is also another legend about Tara, the daughter of Rani Bhabani who was rescued by Saint Mastaram from the evil designs of Siraj-ud-Daulla. Once when the king Siraj-ud-Daulla came to seize Tara, he had to retreat as he saw Tara suffering from small pox. The small pox vanished mysteriously, just as mysteriously it had appeared.

Mir Jaffer who was suffering from leprosy had requested for the holy charanmritro (holy water from the lotus feet of Maa Kiriteeshwari after her great bath) on his death bed.