On the day of Mahashtami, we hit the road to reach Jamshedpur to attend the Durga Puja in Jamshedpur. There is an ancient solahbhuji (sixteen-armed) Durga temple at Deori, near Tamar, around 60 km from Ranchi, on the Tata-Ranchi Highway (NH-33).
I have been visiting this temple from the time it was in its original shape. I came to Ranchi from Delhi on my promotion in the year 1997. My bank colleagues told me about this temple and we used to visit this temple often. Durga is a warrior goddess, and she is depicted to express her martial skills. Her iconography typically resonates with these attributes, where she rides a lion or a tiger, has between eight and eighteen hands, each holding a weapon to destroy and create. The main attraction is that the idol is having sixteen hands, normally goddess Durga is seen with eight or ten hands.
The original temple is made up of big stone placed one over another without using any cementing material in between, like many ancient constructions. Inside the sanctum sanctorum, an ancient idol of Goddess Durga with 16 hands is consecrated along with Lord Shiva. There are many legends related to this temple. According to some local beliefs, this Solah Bhuja Devi Prachin Durga Mandir is in existence since the Mahabharata times. The Pandavas are believed to have prayed here during their period of ‘Agyatvaas’ (secluded exile). It is also believed by many here that Emperor Ashoka (Reign: c. 268 – c. 232 BCE) and his army worshipped and invoked Maa Durga’s blessing for victory at Kalinga War (c. 260 BCE) at this temple while marching enroute Kalinga region.
Legend has it that whoever has tried to alter the structure of the temple has had to face the wrath of the gods and suffer consequences. Therefore, new construction is being done from outside keeping the original temple intact.
Alongside the Brahmin priests, there are six tribal priests known as Pahans who worship in this temple and take part in different rituals and prayers. It is the only temple where the tribal priests are allowed to worship the Goddess along with Brahmin priests. The best thing in this temple is that one can directly worship the Goddess. The priests only assist with ways and mantras.
Even, the captain of India’s cricket team, MS Dhoni also comes to this temple regularly. The previous captain Saurav Ganguly also came here for worship several times. We stopped here for a while. Babai & I went to the temple for prayers. After paying our obeisance, we moved on.