About Mangla Gauri Temple in Gaya, Bihar
The temple is located high on the top of the Mangla Gauri hill in Gaya in Bihar. It faces the East, and the rays of the rising sun fall directly on the face of the temple every morning. A flight of steps and a motorable road leads up to the temple on the hill. The temple was built in the 15th century at the time when the Rajputs came to defend the region comprising of Gaya and Benares from the Mughals who invaded the region and tried to occupy it.
Importance in culture and religion
It is said that a part of Goddess Shakti fell at the location of the temple dedicated to Mangla Gauri when she was dismembered by the Gods to stop God Shiva from destroying the world. The Hindus consider it as one of the eighteen different places of worship called “Maha Shakti Peeth” where various portions of the Goddess Shakti fell. The goddess is worshipped here as a symbol of benevolence. It is said that the wishes of all those who come to worship her here gets fulfilled. Various ancient scriptures like the Puranas have a mention of this temple. It is a Vaishnavite pilgrimage spot that is dedicated to Goddess Shakti who looks after the whole world in times of distress and adverse situations.
The presiding deity
The main deity of this temple is Goddess Shakti, who is personified as the feminine creative power. The Hindus think that she is the source of all the dynamic forces that are present in the Universe. She is worshipped as the creator of the Universe and also the force that brings changes to the Universe. She is seen as the feminine power that was derived from the power of God Shiva when God Brahma asked for help in the creation of the Universe.
Appearance of the idol
The main temple is a very small one where only one or two persons can enter at a time. The temple has no idol of the Goddess. It is said that the breast of Goddess Shakti fell here. The shape that is worshipped here is a piece of rock that resembles a breast signifying nourishment for all creations that exist in the whole world. A flame which burns eternally in the temple lights up the formation inside of the temple.
Presence of other shrines
The temple complex has other shrines located around it. Facing the main temple are the temples dedicated to God Ganesh and God Shiva. There is also a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, who is another form of Goddess Durga or Shakti. Temples dedicated to other deities, gods and goddesses are present around the whole complex.
Worshipping the goddess
The temple remains open from 5 AM in the morning to 10 pm with a recess of two hours from 1 pm to 3 pm in the afternoon. Anyone can come to the temple and worship the goddess and ask for her benevolence and blessings. The priests carry out aarties in the evenings. If any special pooja or worship is required by anyone, the priests have to be informed in advance. The maximum number of worshippers is usually seen on Tuesdays which is the most auspicious day of the week for worshipping the Goddess and for getting wishes fulfilled with the blessings of the Goddess. Unmarried girls can pray on Tuesdays and get their wishes fulfilled especially to get a husband who has all the good traits of God Shiva.
Special occasions of worship
A special worship of Goddess Shakti can be carried out on every Tuesday in the Shravan months. The worship during these months which starts from the middle of July and is the beginning of the rainy season is extremely auspicious for married women. Fasting is undertaken by the married women to bring prosperity to the family and fame to her husband. The fasting signifies that time spent by Goddess Parvati, who is another form of Goddess Shakti, before marriage to God Shiva. The worship involves sixteen types of bangles, seven types of fruits and five types of sweets. The idol or the picture of the goddess is bathed in milk, curd and water and clothed in red cloth. Mehendi, kajol and sindoor are used to decorate the idol or picture.. Then the idol or the picture is kept on a wooden plank. The fruits, sweets and the ornaments are placed before the picture after which the pooja begins. The fasting has to be done for five years continuously after which “udyapan” is carried out.
Place of Hindu pilgrimage
The temple is the one of the eighteen pilgrimage spots or eighteen “that peeths” that are visited by Vaishnavite Hindus. The city of Gaya is a very important pilgrimage spot for them. Hindus from all over the country visit Gaya to perform “pind daan” ceremony to release their forefathers from the sufferings in hell and to reserve a place for them a place in heaven.