Here is the list of Festivals at Jajpur Biraja Temple, Odisha. Triveni Amavasya, Dola Purnima, Mahavishuva Sankranti, Varuni Festival, Chandan Purnima, Savitri Amavasya, Chitlagi Amavasya, Vasant Navratri, Ashwin Navratri Durga Puja, etc,. are the biggest festivals celebrated at Biraja Maa Temple.
Sakta-Tantric rituals are the basic principle behind all the festivals admitting the Brahmanical method of worship. The important festivals celebrated in the Biraja temple are described here.
Triveni Amavasya or the birth day ceremony of goddess Biraja (Biraja Jayanti) is one of the most important festivals celebrated in the temple. It falls in Magha Month (January-February) on the new – moon day. On account of Biraja Jayanti, Mata is decorated as Goddess Savitri, the consort of Brahama (the creator) with golden ornaments. She is exclusively attired in yellow and worshipped with Gayatri mantra prescribed in the Brahma-Tantra.
Dola Purnima is observed on the full-moon day of Falguna Month (February-March). On this occasion, the representative deity is taken in a Vimana (chariot) to Dolavedi (pedestal) in the temple premises in the evening after certain rituals. After the required rites of worship (pujaniti), the Goddess is sprinkled with fagu or the sacred red powder. Then the astrologer of the Temple opens and recites the new almanac for the year. People gather in large numbers to see the chaceri of Dola yatra and listen to the prescriptions of the new almanac read out.
Varuni Festival –
Varuni, an auspicious day comes in Chaitra Month (March-April) that attracts pilgrims from all over India for sacred ablution in the Vaitarani Satabhisha, the 24th asterism of the constellation is otherwise known as ‘Varuna’.
If the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of caitra is conjoined with Varuṇa, The day becomes sacred for a bath in the holy river. So the day is called “Varuni”.
On this occasion Goddess Biraja is bathed with the holy water of the Vaitaraṇi and a special worship is performed. Hindu Vaishnavite pilgrims come from nook and corner of India and abroad to take a holy dip in the river Vaitarani near Dasasvamedha Ghata and offer pinḍas to their ancestors there and Nabhigaya. They have a holy darshan of Goddess Biraja.
On the first day of the solar month of Vaisakha Maas (April-May) Mahavisuva Sankranti or pana Sankranti is observed in the Biraja temple. The deity is magnificently dressed, which is called “Bada Simhara Vesa” and special puja is performed. Prapanaka or a special kind of drink is offered and new almanac or panjika is once again inaugurated in the temple.
On the Chandan Purnima day in the month of may-June, the face of the deity of Goddess Biraja is smeared with sandal paste. So the day is very significant for the pilgrims. The Candana veśa of the Goddess attracts people form far and near to have a Darsan of the great mother Biraja.
Savitri Amavasya is exclusively celebrated on the new-moon day of Jyestha month (May-June). On this occasion there is a great rush in the temple premises specially married women come over here to worship Goddess Biraja for their unbroken conjugal happiness. As Goddess Biraja is regarded as Savitri they pray her for long-life of their husbands. They come with new-clothes and after worship break their fast taking different kinds of fruits.
Chitalagi Amavasya is a special occasion celebrated in Sravana month (July-August). On this day the cita (a gold ornament for the fore head) is put on the fore head of Goddess Biraja after the due rituals cita (a special and aromatic cake) is offered to the Goddess.
Gahma Purnima is otherwise known as Rakṣi Punima that comes on the full moon day of Shravan Month (July-August). On this occasion special pūjā is held of the Goddess and she puts on Gold and silk band named Rākṣi on her left hand.
Sunia marks the beginning of the Anka year of the Gajapati kings of puri and it also marks the beginning of the Autumnal Durgāpūjā festival in the Biraja temple. Goddess Biraja has been identified with Mahiṣāmardinī Durgā, So she is worshipped as Durgā at the time of autumnal festival Suniā is observed on the 12th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhādrapada (September), on this festive day after the traditional rituals the worship of lord Gaṇeśa and Goddess Saraśvatī is performed and the cutting of Gold (Svaraṇachedani) is held. Mangalārpaṇa (chanting of auspicious songs) work is performed before the Goddess. On this occasion the “Vanayāga” ceremony or Vilwa-Varana (worship of Vilwa tree) is observed for the construction of Simhadhvaja Ratha (chariot) that carries the deity during autumnal festivals. The construction of the said Ratha (chariot) starts form the day of Suniā.
Ashwin Durga Puja
Autumnal worship of Goddess Durgā, the Mahiṣāmardinī is the most important festival near Goddess Biraja at Jajpur. This festival continues for a period of sixteen days starting form the 8th day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin Month (September – October) and ending on the Mahānavami (9th day of the bright fortnight) day with much pomp and ceremony. Vedic and Tantric methods of worship are adopted for the great worship during the days of Mulāṣṭami (8th day of the dark fortnight) Panchamī, Mahāṣṭamī, Mahānavamī and Daśharā (the 5th, 8th, 9th and 10th days of bright fortnight) the temple is over crowded by the devotees. This festival attracts pilgrims from all over Odisha and abroad.
Rathayatra or the car festival of Goddess Biraja is the most important festival of Jajpur. During Durgā pūjā it is celebrated for nine days form the first day of the bright fortnight (Pratipada) of Ashwin Month (September-October), the wooden chariot of Goddess Biraja is placed in front of the lion’s gate. After the traditional morning rituals the consecration work of the chariot named Simhadhvaja is held on the Pratiṣṭhā Maṇḍapa (an altar for consecration) after the yajna or sacrificial work is over, the representative deity of Goddess Biraja is ushered into the massive decorated chariot parked in front of the lion’s Gate in a special ceremonial procession arranged by the temple administration. The rhythmic clang of metal gongs, blowing of trumpets and devotionals chanting of the devotees fill the air.
It is very interesting to know that a car festival for the Goddess is nowhere found in Odisha. We have such instances near Vindhyavāsinī and Sthambhesvarai in Madhya Pradesh and near Goddess Cāmuṇḍesvarī in Mysore, people from far and near come ever to Jajpur during the nine days car festival.
The Ratha moves around the temple compound once a day for nine days continually. It is believed that one who perceives the Goddess on the Ratha is liberated form all sorts of sins.
Lakhavindha (shooting of arrows) ceremony is held at the midnight of the Mahānavami day. The representative Goddess (Vije-pratimā) of the great mother Biraja descends from the chariot after nine days car festival and sets out towards Lākhavindhā ground (a specific place at the outskirts of the temple premises) in a Vimāna specially made for the purpose in a ceremonial procession. The Goddess is worshipped there as Mahāmārī.
A Goddess named Lakṣesvari or Dākesvari near the ground is offered with a delicious and aromatic drink. After Pūjā rituals the pujaka throw arrows to four directions near a high pedestal. After this archery work the representative Goddess is brought back to the temple in a dark and soundless atmosphere. After a long period of nine days the Goddess is placed on the pedestal and the ceremony is declared over.
Kumara Purnima festival is observed on the full moon day of Āsvina (September-October). On this festival occasion the deity decorated with golden ornaments like a virgin. Cowry-play (Aksa) is held between the virgin Goddess and the chief priest. Khai or parched paddy is scattered on the entire ground in the temple premises special worship is held for the Goddess and it attracts large number of devotees in the evening.
On the eve of Kāli pūjā in the month of November, Deepavali is celebrated with the lighting of several lamps. Special Tantric rituals are held near the Pārsva Devatā Ekapāda Bhairava and Chamunḍa on the western side of the temple.
It is a tradition is Odisha that or the day of Prathamastami in November, the eldest sons and daughters wear new clothes and takes a special and delicious cake with turmeric aroma named ‘Enḍurī’. Similarly Goddess Biraja is dressed with new clothes after due rituals and offered ‘Enḍurī’ (Steam boiled cake with the cover of turmeric leaf and prepared with rice paste, coconut, crystallized sugar or molasses, Ginger, cheese and camphor).
This is beginning of the month of Pauṣa (December-January) when people enjoy sweetened balls of parched and husked paddy for health. The same tradition is observed near Goddess Biraja with special worship and offering of sweetened balls of parched and hasked paddy.
On the new moon day of Pauṣa (December-January) Vakuḷa Amavasya is celebrated in the Biraja temple. The goddess is offered with a special kind of cake named ‘Gainṭha’ mixed with milk, sugar and mango inflorescence after the pūjā rites are held.
Apart from these specific festivals many other festivals are held inside the premises of the Biraja temple on certain particular occasions.
Gaṇeśa pūjā on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhādrapada is held in a separate temple of lord Gaṇeśa inside the premises, on the day of Mahāviśuva Samkrānti special worship of Hanumān is held in the Hanumān temple.
On the day of Mahāsivarātrī Rudrābhiseka and special worship of Lord Siva is held in the Isaneśvara temple.
Including daily rites Bagalāmukhī is worshipped on special occasions is a modern temple inside the premises. Moreover Sankrānti, Amāvāsyā, Purnami etc. are observed as the festive days of Goddess Biraja. On Saturdays and Tuesday’s homa or sacrifice is held with the recital saptasati candī or the devi mahātmya.