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Devi Jagaddhatri or ‘Jagatdhatri’ (meaning – ‘the bearer or carrier of the world’) is an aspect of the Hindu goddess Parvati. The worship of Devi Jagaddhatri and the associated rituals are directly derived from Tantra, where the Devi is a symbol of ‘Sattva’, beside Durga and Kali, respectably symbolized with ‘Rajas’ and ‘Tamas’. According to Mythology, Jagaddhatri is the incarnation of ‘Siddhidatri’. She is also said to be the combined form of Sri Tripura Sundari and Maa Durga. The difference between Devi Durga and Devi Jagaddhatri is described in ‘Mayatantra’, where Devi Jagaddhatri is mentioned with reference to Devi Durga in Krishnanda’s ‘Tantrasaar’. Again, whereas Devi Durga is depicted being standing along with Her two sons and two daughters; Devi Jagaddhatri is depicted to stand along with Her two maids Jaya and Vijaya. The affiliations of Devi Jagaddhatri are ‘Parvati’, ‘Mahadevi’, ‘Durga’, ‘Shivani’. Lord Shiva is considered as the consort of Devi Jagaddhatri. Devi Jagaddhatri is worshipped yearly during the auspicious period of ‘Gosthastami’ – this puja is also referred to as another Durga puja as it also starts on ‘Ashtami tithi’ and ends on ‘Dashami tithi’. This puja is performed on the ninth lunar day (Navami) of the ‘Shukla Paksha’ in the Bengali month Kartick (as per the reference of ‘Krityatattarnab’ by Srinath Acharyachuramoni of 15th -16th century). Jagaddhatri puja has its opulence mainly in the two states of India – West Bengal and Orissa. Mainly the two towns of West Bengal are famous for the Jagaddhatri puja; namely Krishnanagar (Nadia district) and Chandannagar (former French colony, Hooghly district – a small town, 2 30 km to north of Kolkata). These two towns are very special in terms of the grandeur and popularity based on Jagaddhatri puja. Devi Jagaddhatri sustains the universe through Her Yoga-shakti. ‘Naga’ or ‘Sarpa’ is the symbol of Yoga and ‘Upavitam’ is the symbol of Brahmin. Devi is yogini. She is using the whole world by Her ‘MahaYoga Shakti’. The act of rescuing the world is Her ‘leela’. In the stotram of Devi Jagaddhatri, She has been invoked as ‘Adharabhutah’, ‘Dhritirupah’, ‘Dhurandharah’, ‘Dhruvapadah’, ‘Shaktistah’, ‘Shaktirupah’, ‘Shaktacharpriyah’, ‘Shaktivigrahe’. Like most other Hindu deities, Devi Jagaddhatri is also known by many other names such as ‘Karindrasundari’ (slayer of the elephant-demon), ‘Maheshwari’ (the great goddess), ‘Shaktacharpriya’ (the goddess who loves to be worshipped as according to the practices of the ‘Shakta’ sect of Hinduism or Shaktism), ‘Adharabhuta’ (the bearer of the world) etc. However, the first mention Jagaddhatri puja comes from ‘Kalviveka’ of Smarta Shulapani (1375-1460) and later Smarta’s like Brihaspati Raymukut and Srinatha Acharya Churamani too have mentioned Devi Jagaddhatri in their work. “You must believe in Ishwara rupa. Do you know the meaning of Jagaddhatri rupa? She is carrying the world. If she stops then the whole world will get destroyed”, said Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansadeva. His explanation can be applied for both Devi Durga and Devi Jagaddhatri. Thus, in the hymns, the goddess is always referred as ‘Jagaddhatri Durga’ – “Jayade Jagadanande Jagadekpropujite / Jay Swargate Durge Jagaddhatri Namahastute” (Translation : I hail Thee, O all-pervasive Jagaddhatri Durga, Thou art victorious and symbol of the joys of the world; it is only Thou in the world, who can be worshipped properly, victory to Thee). The Dhyana Mantra of Devi Jagaddhatri describe Her weapons, vahana and Her iconography. Devi is sitting on the top of a lion, wearing different bright jewelleries. In four hands, Devi 3 Jagaddhatri holds a conch and a bow in Her two left hands; a chakra and a five-headed arrow in Her two right hands. The conch is the symbol of brilliance and purity, chakra destroys the evil spirit; while arrow represents wisdom and bow represents the concentration of mind. Devi Jagaddhatri is reddish like morning-sun, having three eyes. Devi Jagaddhatri is entangled by a snake on Her neck, thus, signifying fight against all odds in life. Her reddish colour and weapons are the symbols of ‘Raja’ guna but this is not for destruction and going for war. Rather this is to keep the world focused in ‘Ritam’ and ‘Satyam’ – thus Devi Jagaddhatri brings the spirit of wisdom. Associated story on Devi Jagaddhatri : The story of Devi Jagaddhatri is mainly found in ‘Kena Upanishad’ and ‘Katyayani Tantra’. Generally, after Devi Durga killed Mahishasura, the gods of the heaven forgot about Her power. So, Adi Shakti, Maa Parvati took the test of the devatas. Thus, Devi appeared before Agni, Vayu, Varuna and Chandra. They thought themselves as ‘Almighty’ and they can do anything with their power. In ‘Kena Upanishad’, it is seen that Devi Jagaddhatri told them to take out a grass, but Vayu failed. Then Agni also failed to burn it. Every god one by one tried but failed. At the end, the devatas understood that every bit of power in the universe belongs to Devi Jagaddhatri and their power also belongs to Her. Devi Jagaddhatri is the power of the whole world – so all the gods understood their fault. Goddess came before them as ‘Uma’, sitting on a lion and their ego became an elephant. This story has been taken is where we find mention of Devi where She has been called as ‘Jagaddhatri’ for the first time. She is told to be the manifestation of Saguna Brahma and the symbol of Sattwa Guna. Even though the world is witnessing destruction and creation every moment but it never gets destroyed totally. The reason is the ‘Maha Shakti’, who 4 protects and sustains it. She is the eternal, unaffected by the waves of time. Devi Jagaddhatri is the manifestation of that ‘Maha Shakti’. Again, another view says that during the war between Devi Durga and Mahishasura, the buffalo-demon Mahishasura changed his own look in many forms to confuse Devi Durga. When the devil took the form of an elephant, Devi appeared with four hands along with a lion. That appearance is known as ‘Jagaddhatri’. Goddess Jagaddhatri killed the devil elephant with Her deadly weapon (the chakra). Here, in place of Mahishasura, the elephant is the devil. In Sanskrit, elephant is known as ‘Kari’ and for the same, the devil killed by Devi Jagaddhatri is known as ‘Karindrasura’. History on Jagaddhatri puja : The beginning of Jagaddhatri puja at Chandannagar probably dates back earlier than 1750. Indranarayan Chowdhury, the Diwan of Chandannagar at the contemporary period, performed Jagaddhatri puja at his own house at Chandernagar. At that time Raja Krishnachandra Ray, the raja of Krishnanagar from Nadia district, used to come to borrow money from Indranarayan Chowdhury. Perhaps, Raja Krishnachandra was attracted to greatness of Devi Jagaddhatri at that time. Raja Krishnachandra Ray, then introduced the public worship of goddess Jagaddhatri at Krishnanagar. Once Raja Krishnachandra was imprisoned by the then ruling Nawab of Bengal (Siraj-ud-Daula), for defaulting of taxes. When Raja Krishnachandra was released from the prison, he was returning by boat from Murshidabad to Nadia, at the time of Durga puja in autumn season. Raja Krishnachandra heard the sound of the drums from the boat. That day was the last day of Durga puja. Raja Krishnachandra, the devout follower of Maa Durga was depressed to miss the festivities of that year. Later that evening he 5 had the vision of Devi Durga, appearing towards him as a little girl. Devi ordered Raja to worship Her on the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the Bengali month of Kartik; and also said that this would bring the same blessings from Her. Later Raja Krishnachandra discussed this incident with his family-priest and Raja was told by the priest that the goddess was Devi Jagaddhatri Herself. Raja Krishnachandra ordered an artist to create a statue of goddess Jagaddhatri and later Raja himself worshipped Devi Jagaddhatri with great splendour at the stipulated time in the year 1762. The worshipping of Devi Jagaddhatri was introduced during the middle of 18th century. As the contemporary literature does not mention the puja, however it is likely that more public worship was begun later. The tradition of worshipping Jagaddhatri is still followed at Krishnanagar Rajbari, with equal respite. Thus, Krishnanagar has a special historical significance on account of Jagaddhatri puja. The festival Jagaddhatri puja was later initiated by Sarada Devi, the consort of Ramakrishna Paramhansadeva. The puja started at Jayrambati, where Holy Mother Sarada Devi was born. Here are some extracts from Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi about the Jagaddhatri puja of Jayrambati (written by Swami Gambhirananda Maharaj) – “Once at the time of worshipping Goddess Kali, Nava Mukherji, as a result of some village feud, did not accept the gifts of rice and other things from Shyamasundari Devi (mother of Maa Sarada), which were Her contribution to the joint endeavour at worship. She had gathered together these things with great effort and utmost sincierity; but another man’s cruelty now deprived her from the chance of offering them to the deity. Her sorrow was so painful that she spent a sleepless night and went on repeating, ‘This rice I prepared for Maa Kali, and this has not been accepted! Who will now eat this? Indeed it is Kali’s rice, and nobody else can eat it!’ Then a deity appeared to her in a 6 dream and awakened her by patting her body. Opening her eyes, Shyamasundari Devi saw the deity, red in hue, sitting near the door with one leg placed over the other, who said, ‘Why do you weep? I shall eat Kali’s rice. Why do you worry?’ Shyamasundari Devi then inquired, ‘Who are you?’ The deity replied, ‘I am the Mother of the universe; I shall accept your worship as Jagaddhatri’. Shyamasundari Devi secured about 400 lbs of paddy but it was raining incessantly on the day of puja. Shyamasundari Devi said, ‘Mother, how shall I worship you? I can’t so much as dry the paddy’. But through the grace of Devi Jagaddhatri, it so happened, that though it rained all around, her mat, on which the paddy was spread, had plenty of sunshine; and she got it husked and converted into rice. The clay image of the deity was painted after drying it under fire. Finally, the worship of Devi Jagaddhatri was duly performed. Many people from far and near were invited and heartily fed. The rice was enough for all. At the time of the immersion of image, Shyamasundari Devi whispered at Devi’s ear, ‘My dear Jagai, do come again next year. I shall be making arrangements for you all the year round’. Thenceforth the worship of Jagaddhatri puja continued uninterruptedly for some years. The Mukherji family had not then enough hands to help in that festival. So, the Holy Mother Devi Sarada had to be present every year for scouring the utensils and doing some other jobs. Maa Sarada, herself, was believed to be the reincarnation of the Goddess Durga and still observed with high spirits at all the centres of Ramakrishna Mission all over the world even today. The puja was propagated as ‘Shakti puja’, to overcome the evils in our minds, and the devils exist in the society”. Thus, Jagaddhatri puja is popularly called as the reincarnation of Goddess Durga, the saviour to destroy evil and to set peace on the earth. Devi Jagaddhatri had also been figured as a devotional entity in the semi-historical fictional work ‘Anandamath’, written by Bankim 7 Chandra Chattopadhyay – from which book the national song of India ‘Vande Mataram’ is taken. In the novel Devi Kali, Devi Durga and Devi Jagaddhatri are depicted as three aspects of ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India) – Jagaddhatri as the mother used to be, Kali as the mother now is, Durga as the mother will be in future. The trio of goddess are shown as the object of worship of a group of ascetics, who form the protagonists of the story. Significance of worshipping Devi Jagaddhatri : Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansadeva clearly portrayed the significance of worshipping Devi Jagaddhatri - “Devi Jagaddhatri is residing in the hearts of all Her sincere devotees, and through Her grace only our mind can be controlled, and we will be able to think about good things and can avoid bad things in our life. She is the divine mother who controls us, and helps us to move to the correct path and she is none other than Devi Durga and Devi Kali; and protects us throughout our life, and makes us to live life happily and peacefully”. By worshipping Mata Jagaddhatri, we can attain all the prosperity in our life, and our sins will be washed out and we will become holy persons. Devi Jagaddhatri cleanse our mind and body, help in recovering from diseases and gives mental satisfaction. We can recite Her names and slokas, conduct puja, decorate Devi with flowers by keeping Her laminated photo at our home. The glory of Mata Jagaddhatri can be sung in Her praise : “Om Sree Mata Jagaddhatri Devi Namah”. Jagaddhatri Puja Vidhi : Jagaddhatri puja should be performed early in the morning just after the sunrise or during the 8 ‘pradosh’ period (1.5 hours before the sunset). The ‘murti’ of Goddess Jagaddhatri should be placed on the northern corner of the house on a yellow coloured cloth. The puja should be performed facing to northern direction. The person performing Jagaddhatri puja should wear yellow coloured clothes. A kalash is to be taken being filled with water and chana dal must be put within it. The kalash must be closed with coconut and this should be kept near the picture or sculpture or painting of Jagaddhatri. The lamp should be lit using ghee mixed with haldi (turmeric). One wick is preferred. Dhoop should be made of camphor. Yellow coloured flowers should be offered. Tilak should be made using haldi (turmeric). Milk and honey should be offered. Banana should be offered as bhog or prasad. The banana should be later kept under a peepal tree. The water and chana dal in the kalash should be deposited under a peepal tree. To come out of the difficulties in life, milk is to be mixed with turmeric powder and then should be offered to Devi Jagaddhatri. For happiness in the family, the yellow coloured flowers or mustard should be placed on camphor and then be offered to the goddess. For fulfilment of desire, banana should be offered to the Goddess and then be given to the cow. Performing the rituals of Jagaddhatri puja day by day : The rituals of Jagaddhatri puja are done on the three days of ‘Ashtami’, ‘Navami’ and ‘Dashami’ as for the Durga puja. ‘Ashtami’ is the starting point of the three day celebrations of the Jagaddhatri puja. On the day of ‘Ashtami’, Devi Jagaddhatri is worshipped as the provider of wealth, sustainance, good luck as well as prosperity. All the devotees together recite prayers to invoke the 9 blessings of the goddess and distribute the prasadas to all the devotees present there. ‘Navami’ is the second day which is considered to be the day, when the goddess was received and sent to the earth. Animal sacrifice is the main ritual of this day but this has been substituted by cucumber, banana and chal-kumro. ‘Dashami’ is called as ‘Vijayadashami’ when Devi Jagaddhatri is taken over the area in a procession and gets immersed in the river. This yearly visit of Devi Jagaddhatri is celebrated as a festival of the victory of good over evil, bringing happiness to the entire universe. The beating of drums, the clash of cymbals, the ringing of bells, dances before the image of Devi Jagaddhatri, incense wafting in the air – all form an integral part of the Jagaddhatri puja. Festivities of Jagaddhatri puja at Chandannagar and Krishnanagar : The beauty of the festival Jagaddhatri puja at Chandannagar is mainly due to the collaborative conception between the French and the Bengalis. Remarkable feature remaining its procession, second largest in the world after Rio de Jeneiro’s with the magnificent lightings. The number of community pujas at Chandannagar, Bhadreshwar and other municipal areas crosses 190 mark. Of these 132 puja-committees in different localities at Chandannagar and Bhadreshwar are affiliated to the Chandanangar Central Jagaddhatri Puja Committee. The Central Committee renders all possible assistance to its constituents in getting permissions and clearences for holding the puja. The immersion procession is really memorable and enjoyable sight to witness which lakhs of people throng at Chandannagar from far and near. The beautifully decorated 10 tall images loaded on trucks are taken around the town in a procession. The dazzling illuminations seen during the Jagaddhatri puja at Chandannagar owe much to a long years tradition, harking back to the world renowned light-artist Sridhar Das, who made Chandannagar’s Jagaddhatri puja world-famous. At Krishnanagar, Jagaddhatri puja is performed being concentrated on traditional themes. The ‘Baroari’ pujas performed there added much glamour to the grand festival where lakhs of people from different parts of West Bengal gather. Most popular idol of goddess Jagaddhatri at Krishnanagar is ‘Buri maa’ – Devi is ornamented with glowing jewelleries every year. Traffic and crowd-control has become a challenging task for both the administration and police during Jagaddhatri puja at Krishnanagar. At Krishnanagar, Jagaddhatri puja is organised for a day (on the day of Navami), but immersion continues for two days. On the first day of immersion, a new concept of ‘ghat’- immersion is implemented where every puja committee and baroaris take part in a grand procession. The puja committees go first to the Rajbari and then move towards Khore river. The whole immersion procession takes place through a single route from Rajbari to Khore river. This immersion starts from 10 AM and ends at 4 PM. **************************************

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