Mythological History of Mahavinayak Temple
The sculptural marvels of Mahavinayak Temple are said to have been erected by rulers of the Keshari Dynasty who reigned over Odisha during the 12th century, which later transformed into a major pilgrimage centre for the worship of the 'Darpan king'. As per a mythological legend, Kamadev's wife Rati Devi had offered prayers to Lord Ganesha at this spot for her husband's release from a curse of Lord Shiva. Immediately, five outstretched hands surrounded her, expecting her offerings. Confused, Rati Devi prayed to Lord Brahma who assured her that the five Gods namely Sun God, Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu were so contented with her devotion that they intended to bless her and accept her offerings. Thereafter, Kamadev was set free and from that day onwards one large granite stone emerged from the earth, containing the divine power of the five Gods.
Mahavinayak Temple is also believed to have been associated to the Hindu epic Mahabharata, particularly the Baruna Hill region or the 'Barunabanta' which was the capital of Yudhisthir. It is believed that this was the very last place where Yudhisthir had spent his time before proceeding to the heaven after transferring the royal power to an oilman or 'teli'. Later his palace was owned by this oilman who named it Teligarh and even today, a part of this palace can be observed from one side of this temple and the hill. 'Bhima Khala' is the name of the rehearsal place of Bhima. During the battle of Kurukshetra, Kunti is said to have offered one lakh Golden Champa flowers or 'swarna champa' from this exact spot to Lord Shiva, to appease Him for the victory of all her sons in the great battle. Yet another legend states that the head of Lord Ganesha dropped at this region which justifies its naming as 'Vinayak Kshetra'. It is said that this area became important after a discovery which revealed a cow offering milk to an unknown deity which oozed out from its nipples.
Rituals followed in Mahavinayak Temple
Various Hindu rituals are observed with gravity in the premises of Mahavinayak Temple. The festival of Shiva Ratri is observed for a period of 10 days along with 'Homa' and 'Yagna', as well as other festivals like 'Makar Sankranti', 'Raja' and others. Several Lord Shiva devotees offer the sacred waters of the river for the fulfilment of their wishes during 'Shravana' month. During Mondays and the festive occasion of Sankranti, a vast number of pilgrims pay a visit to this Indian temple to worship the unified forces of all the five Hindu Gods.
Other Pilgrimage Spots near Mahavinayak Temple
Chatia Bata Temple which is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, Biraja Temple belonging to the 13th century, which is also referred to as 'Biraja Peetha' and Gokarneswara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located at Jaraka are amongst the other temples which are existent close to Mahavinayak Temple. Three Buddhist Viharas at Udaigiri, Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri which are based at a distance of nearly 70 km from Cuttack, known as the Buddhist Complex are also situated near Mahavinayak Temple.
Various followers of the Shaiva faith assemble at the temple grounds to offer their prayers. It is also a favourite picnic spot, amidst lush green hills and a spring and is supervised by The Endowment Commissioner of Odisha with one Trustee board. Devotees will notice many monkeys who snatch 'Prasadam' or 'Bhoga' from the crowd of pilgrims.
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