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Saraikela: Land of tradition, heritage and more

Mail News Service

Saraikela, Sept 19: Tradition has it that Saraikela is a derivation from the term Shodhoi Kola meaning the land of 16 art forms. May be, the name may undergo many changes as times move on but the fact will remain that Saraikela will traditionally remain the obeisance evoking land of the 16 traditional art forms.

Among these traditions are the age old practices of  devotion to divinity and one of them is the worship of presiding deity, Ma Pauri, the form in which Goddess Durga and Her power is worshipped over 16 days beginning with Jeutia Ashwin and concluding on the Shukla Paksh Ashtami in the month of Ashtami that spans 16 days of prayer and devotion.

The traditional worship of Goddess Durga in Her Powerful form, that of the presiding deity, Ma Pauri is worshipped over 16 days in the dynastic Pauri Mandir within the royal compound. The Puja commenced on Sunday last. The royal couple, Raja Pratap Aditya Singhdev and Rani Arunima Singhdev offered prayers to Ma Pauri for peace, prosperity and progress of the people of the region. Bali or sacrifice was offered on the occasion to appease the Divine Mother, Ma Durga in Her Ma Pauri form.

It is worth mentioning that in keeping with tradition only the members of the royal family that includes the king, queen, prince and the Dehuri or Ma Pauri Mandir priest are allowed to perform prayers in this Pauri Mandir. Another traditional practice is that over the 16 days, Prasad or food for consecration is offered to Ma Pauri everyday and is partaken of by the royal family within the palace compound. Only the offerings to Devi Ma on the 16th and concluding day are shared by the royal family with the general devotees. The offering to Ma Pauri that is shared with the general people is Maha Prasad.

Another part of this traditional 16 days of Pauri Puja feature is the playing of percussion instruments during prayers on these 16 days of ritualistic puja. This is a traditional follow-up to awaken the Mother, the process of awakening the traditional deity, Ma Pauri. The Sandhya Aarti every evening has been practiced through time and generations by the royal family and its descendants. Arms that include swords, bows and arrows, guns and cannons are worshipped on Maha Saptami day by members of the royal family.

The Maha Navami prayers assume greater importance since Nuakhiya on this day has been a timeless tradition. Nuakhiya involves offering of the first paddy harvest to the Mother before it is taken home by the farmers. These are prepared as Bhog or food for consecration by Ma Pauri which is later shared with all devotees to herald another year of prosperity and joy among the people of the estate.

This traditional practice of the 16 day worship of Goddess Durga in Her powerful form, Ma Pauri, has been handed down to royal generations through ancient times. Bobby Singhdev of the royal family, informed, “The 16 day annual occasion involves the worship of the power, strength and courage of Devi Ma Durga in the form of Ma Pauri. This Pauri Puja is a timeless tradition handed down to the royal Singhdev family.”

Indigenous Chhau Nritya that mesmerizes international followers

There is evidence galore that the mesmerizing Chhau and its music and songs were developed and nurtured through timeless periods by the royal families of the Mayurbhanj estate. Ma Pauri Puja is incomplete without the rhythmic presentations of Chhau Nritya and the development of this form of dance is attributed to patronage of the royal family of the Singhdevs and the timeless tradition continues to prosper. Saraikela style or Shaili has emerged out of its local tag and has become an international brand that continues to inspire awe worldwide. One old-timer, Bhabani Mohan observed, “Chhau is a gift and blessing of Ma Pauri whose Puja is incomplete without the traditional percussion beats that lure rhythm in dancing feet. The songs have the flavour of time written all over …world over.”

“Jai Ma Pauri,” Bhabani Mohan said sotto voce and mixed into the crowd.

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