‘The practice was in vogue till late 50s’

Two important events faded into the history of the Dasara festival atop of Indakeeladri in Vijayawada. Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam priests used to adorn the presiding deity goddess Kanaka Durga as Bhadra Kali, the mother goddess with fierce-looking eyes and face. Many of priests are also not aware of this alankaram, as the alankara priests of that have either retired from service or they are no more.

Historical background

“The practice was in vogue till the late 50s. The goddess used to be decorated with a skull in one hand and sword in another hand. But, it was discontinued with the devotees thronging the temple would not be able to withstand the energies emanated by it,” says priests.

More so, Adi Sankaracharya had installed a ‘Sri Chakra’ to make the deity appear as ‘prasanna devata’ (gracious). So, the ‘Bhadra Kali alankaram’ was discontinued, they say.

Another important event that took place in 1980 is also little known to the devotees and employees of the temple. The year witnessed ‘adhika masam’. The pushkarams were also celebrated for 13 days as against usual practice of 12 days due to a thithi (the date) which fell on two consecutive days.

So, temple also celebrated the Dasara festival for 11-days. The presiding deity was adorned as ‘Satvika’ on 11 day, a day after Vijayadasami and Rajarajeswari alankaram, recalls Kota Ravi, a priest.

Scholar’s take

Palaparthi Syamalananda Sarma, Sanskrit scholar, explains that ‘Satvika’ alankaram reveals the prasannatha (graciousness, delightfulness) of the goddess.

She is decorated with a pearl white saree, white flowers and ‘abhaya hasta’ (blessing hand). Most important feature is that she does not carry any weapon in this alankaram, and represents ‘satva guna’ (quality of disposition) the highest of three gunas or virtues, he says.

The scholars, referring to Devi Bhagavatam, stress that the presiding deity should be decorated as Bala Tripura Sundari on the first day of the Dasara.

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