Hinduism’s 9-day ode to women empowerment
Navaratri, the festival of “nine nights” marks the cosmic transitions that take place every year, especially the nine days at the Spring and Fall equinox, but is celebrated during the lunar Chaitra (Caitra) and Aśvin months. At the equinox, night and day are of equal duration but this balance with its beginning, middle, and end, must give way. The nine nights symbolize the entire cosmic drama, together with its mapping at the level of the individual’s own regeneration, and this is done by invoking Sarasvatī, Lakshmi (Lakṣmī), and Durgā, each for three nights. The three goddesses are the consorts of Brahmā, Vishnu (Viṣṇu), and Shiva (Śiva) and, therefore, is associated with creation, sustenance, and destruction.
The Shakti Pitha (Śakti Pīṭha, seat of Shakti)are significant shrines and pilgrimage destinations in Shaktism, the goddess-focused Hindu tradition. There are 51 Shakti peethas by various accounts of which 18 are named as Maha (major) in medieval Hindu texts.
Some of the great religious texts like the Shiva Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, the Kalika Purana, the AshtaShakti, and Pithanirnaya Tantra recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers) / Ādī Śaktī Pīṭhas, namely:
- Bimala Temple inside the Jagannath Temple of Puri, Odisha
- Tara Tarini, near Berhampur, Odisha
- Kamakhya Temple, in Guwahati, Assam; and
- Kalighat Kali Temple in Kolkata, West Bengal
We bring you a glimpse of a few of the major Shakti Peethas of the world:
Goddess Durgā is worshipped at Hari Parbat (Śārikā-parvata) as Shārikā (Śārikā) is the presiding deity of Srinagar. Another name for the hill is Pradyumna Peeth. Hari Parbat literally translates to “The Myna Hill” and the story is of the Devi who at this spot in the form of a Mynah drops a pebble that transforms into a rock and kills an evil demon. The Shārikā Temple of the Peeth is located in the middle part of the western slope of the hill. The Goddess is shown with eighteen arms and she sits on a Shri Chakra. The Chakra is engraved on a rock smeared in sindoor. Because of the prominence of the Chakra, the Goddess is also locally known as Chakreshvari and the temple as Chakreshvar.
Kheer (Kśīra) Bhavānī is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Bhavānī (Maharāgnya or Maharājñī) at a sacred spring. The temple is at a distance of 22kilometers east of Srinagar near the village of Tulmula. The term kheer derives from the rice pudding that is offered in the spring to propitiate the Goddess. The Rājataraṅginī describes Tulmula (Skt. Tūlamūlya) and the spring of Maharāgnya as attracting a large number of devotees from Srinagar.
Kamakshi Amman Temple
The Kamakshi Temple is an ancient Hindu Temple dedicated to Kamakshi, the ultimate Goddess Lalita Maha Tripura Sundari. It is located in the historic city of Kanchipuram, near Chennai, India. The Temple was most probably built by the Pallava kings, whose capital was Kanchipuram. The Image of the main Deity, Kamakshi, is seated in a majestic Padmasana, a yogic posture signifying peace and prosperity, instead of the traditional standing pose. According to a local legend, Adi Shankaracharya established the Sri Chakra in this Kamakshi Devi temple in the trough-like structure in that shrine.
The Chamundeshwari Temple is a Hindu temple located on the top of Chamundi Hills about 13 km from the palace city of Mysuru in the state of Karnataka in India. The temple was named after Chamundeshwari, the fierce form of Shakti, a tutelary deity held in reverence for centuries by the Maharaja of Mysuru.
It is believed that Goddess Durga slew the demon king Mahishasura on the top of this hill which was ruled by him. The place was later known as Mahishooru (Place of Mahisha). The British changed it to Mysore and later Kannadized it into Mysuru.
Goddess Shakambhari is an incarnation of Mahadevi. Her name means “The One who nourished mankind with fruits and vegetables”. It is said that in the end of a hundred-year-lasting famine, the supreme Paramashakti incarnated as Shatakshi-Shakambhari and gave food to the starving.
Shakambhari Devi is the third form of the Mother as depicted in the “Murti Rahasyam” part of “The Devi-mahatmyam”, the others being Nandadevi, Raktadantika, Durga, Bhimaa, and Bhraamari. There are many Shakti Peethas in our country, dedicated to this goddess, the prominent ones being Sakray peeth and Sambhar Peeth, located in Rajasthan, and the very famous Saharanpur Shaktipeeth in Uttar Pradesh.
Hinglaj Mata, also known as Hinglaj Devi, Hingula Devi, and Nani Mandir, is a Hindu temple in Hinglaj, a town on the Makran coast in the Lasbela district of Balochistan, and in the middle of the Hingol National Park. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas in the Shaktism denomination of Hinduism. It is one of the three Shakti Peethas in Pakistan, the other two being Shivaharkaray and Sharada Peeth.