Thursday, September 30, 2010
Kanta-baunsiani (Thorn-Bamboo Goddess) -Damanjodi
Today, I will be writing about orissa’s famous Adivasi’s temple, Kanta-baunsiani (Thorn-Bamboo Goddess) in Damanjodi of Koraput dist in Orissa. Adivasi literally translates to ‘’aboriginals’’. Adivasis have syncretic beliefs combining animism. Their pantheon has both the common Hindu gods and their own. The gods and goddesses are always attributed to various natural phenomena, objects, trees, animals, etc. Damanjodi is a valley situated among the panchpatmali hills. Except for this bamboo forest, one can find no other bamboo tree in whole of Pancpatmali hills.
Kanta-Baunsiani Devi in Damanjodi is in the form of bamboos. These bamboos are revered as holy, not only by the aboriginals but also worshipped by other people. Like any other temple, there are no idols or a temple structures here. There are no fences for these Bamboos. This temple is located very close to NALCO, Asia’s largest Aluminum-Bauxite Mine. This Bamboo forest is the main temple for the local indigenous tribes. It is a very famous temple in Damanjodi Area. Kanta-Baunsiani is the reincarnation of Goddess Durga.
NAlco, has brought major developments in the Damanjodi area, however Kanta-Baunsiani is an exception. This holy bamboo Temple retains its primitive appearance, undisturbed by mans interference. Man has not dared to fiddle in this holy forest. Nor alien cultures have taken over this place. One needs to know that the tribes and others consider each and every bamboo in the forest as sacred sanctum of goddess Durga. And the loosely dangling long bamboos in the bamboo bushes that resembles like swords are revered as Lord Shiva or shakthi lingam, the consort of Goddess Durga. The bamboos here were all formed on its own. There are no other bamboo trees in entire Panchpatmali hill area.
There are quite interesting stories how this bamboo forest/temple was formed. One such interesting story is that a hunter’s family of 7 brothers and sisters who lived in a boarder village (between Andra Pradesh & Orissa) had come to this village along with their dog for hunting. After a successful hunt, the siblings decided to spend the night here. They hid their hunting weapons like bow and arrow, daggers, swords etc nearby. When they woke up next morning, all their weapons were mysteriously vanished and in that place tall bamboo trees were replaced and a Shiva lingam also appeared. They were surprised by this transformation. They informed this miracle to the tribes of Sindubar village. And people started worshiping these bamboo trees.
There is also another interesting story. Akalya the daughter of hunter Dushyanth Dame` was married to an adept hunter by the name Vasudeva Dame. The newly wed couple was heading to Kunjguda village to visit a temple there. The temple proceedings were taking too long. So the couple decided to hide their hunting weapons here. They then headed back to the temple. Next day, when they returned to retrieve their weapons, They were taken by Surprise. The Place was turned in to huge bamboo forest. When akalya’s feet touched the ground; she fell unconscious. They started believing that the girl has some divine powers. To confirm this, the head of the village had a vision in his dreams that the girl indeed has divine powers and is none other than Adi Shakthi (Durga). From that day on, this bamboo forest became the temple of Adivasis.
Even when bamboos die, no one will clean it. Every year many bamboos die, and many are grown, all on its own. No one waters these bamboos or maintains the bamboo forest. They solely depend on the rain. None of the bamboo is used for personal reasons. Every Tuesday devotees from far, far away throng this temple. There is a pond in this Bamboo temple. No one uses this pond. Washing hands or legs is a strict no. The temple festival is celebrated on the 1st full moon day in month of January. A branch of a bamboo is considered as shakthi Lingam is given bath in this pond. Then kept on the elevated platform, after which the devotees worship the Shakthi Lingam. This has been the practice for many centuries now. These holy bamboos are decorated beautifully with red cloths with golden boarders. Devotees offer a special kind of fish and Pigeon to the Devi.
Kanta-Baunsiani is considered as very powerful goddess and she doesn’t prefer any structure in the bamboo forest. The goddess before hand warns people who have tried to renovate and expand the temple. The goddess Kanta-baunsaini shows up in her devotees’ dreams and says ‘no’ to any structures. There was a famous king by the name Vikram Kesori who ruled Koraput and keeping his capital as Jaipur, which is 50 kms away from the Bamboo Temple. Every time he traveled to this temple, he always came on his Elephant to get the blessings of Goddess kanta-Baunsiani. It was a tradition for the kings to build big and beautiful temples for their favorite gods and goddess. The king decided to build a temple for Kanta-Baunsaini. However his desire was dampened when goddess showed up in his dreams and requested to stop all the activities right away. The idea of expanding the temple was dropped.
In recent times, NALCo wanted to develop the temple. So they hired a couple of laborers to remove some of the bamboos that was on the way. However, the work turned costly when each and every labor indulged in that project died under mysterious circumstances. The work was halted. However, with goddess permission, an entrance gate just outside the holy land was built.
May the goddess Durga bless us all with happiness, prosperity and wealth!