Temple of Maa Sarala

As per the historical evidences it is believed that this famous temple of Sarala Chandiwas constructed in Sarola Grama during the Bhauma Dynansty in 8th Century. The Goddess “Maa Sarala” was being worshiped in this temple till the end of Hindu rule in 1568 A.D. History, tradition, legend and literature remained as the silent witness to the existence of Sarola Chandi in the Sarola grama (village). In this context one among the great verses of Oriya Mahabharat may be quoted here.

"Nila sunder giri uttar diga kone.
Saraswata bhumi bhrata khanda aisanya,
Chandra bhaga bolikari nadi eka goti,
Brudha matanka paruse maho dadhi bheti,
Se nadi titare parsuramje ghatoi,
Kanaka bati patana nama prakasai.
Ta utare anuja sarol boli grama
Bijaya maheswari sarola chandi nama."

A ruined temple still in existence (renovated in the year of 1982) along with a large tank nearby and surrounded by residences of all categories priests (Niyogi, Pujapanda, Roul Sevak, Mali). Also there was a huge banyan tree (described as Nilakalpabata in Oriya Mahabharat) on the spot and uprooted out in the Super Cyclone in the year of 1999). Being established in 8th century in the time of Bhauma dynasty, it was flourishing till the end of Independent Hindu rule 1568 AD. As legends, supported by historical evidences, in 1568 AD Supreme commander of the Muslim army Kalapahada of Bengli sultan Sulemankarani raided the original shrine of Sarola Chandi at Sarola grama and partly destroyed its far famed Shakti temple. Just after hundred years during the reign of Moghul emperor Aurangzeb the old temple of sarola grama was devastated and a mosque was built few metres away in the west of the temple.

At present Lord Ganesh is being worshiped in the ruined temple (Newly constructed in the year of 1982) by the head priest of the Goddess in the patronship of Sarala Trust. Some important ritualistic ceremonies are still observed in the old shrine thrice in a year. The processional idol “Chalanti Bigraha” of Sarala is brought in a gorgeous palanquin from the present temple to the Sarola grama seven times in a year to commemorate the ancient rituals. The idol of the deity ceremoniously installed on the old throne where she had been worshiped for centuries. A male goat was traditionally sacrificed through the pancha upachara puja at the place as the last ritual in the occasion of Dussehra. Mahabisuba Pana sankranti noon is the great occasion (Jhamu Yatra) Roul sevaks dance on fire and green coconut offered to Devi by panda pujakas. In the dawn of Dola Purnima decorated vimans consisting of several deities from adjacent localities congregate along with the goddess. This interesting occasion is observed with pomp and ceremony. This particular occasion, when Goddess Sarala is worshipped along with other deities, signifies that Maa Sarala is an amalgamation of Vedic cult, tantrik rites and vaishnavik efflorescence.

Modern temple of deity:
The present temple of Goddess was constructed during the period of Marahatta administration between 1753 and 1803. Marahatta Subedars took initiatives and helped the local kings (Gadapati) of Kujanga, Kanika, Benahar and Harishpur to construct the present temple. Present temple situated in the village of Kanakpur of Jhankada Pragana(Kanankbati patana).


It is located in a specious compound consists of a Deula of Pidha order, a Jagamohan or Mukhasala with three Pidha-roofs aligned in a north south axis, and a flat roofed Manadap. The walls of Deula and Jagaamohan is divided into two stored by Madhya Bandhan. The projecting paga is designed as pidha-mundis on both stored though they are not niches. The Anuraha recess has two super–imposed figure motifs on each story. They are filled with erotic kanya motifs, lion motifs on Brahamanical deities. The raha is decorated with a large pidha-mundi that extends up to two storeys. Its niche is filled with various aspects of Devi. On north and south (Sandhi Sthal) bonding are two idols of Devi, one superimposed above the other. The sean on the south represent Parvati and Kali sturts that extend to the height of the barandha support the pidha-roof of both structures. The sturts are decorated with Mithunas or Alasa Kanyas. The Pidha-roofs consists of conventional pidha mouldings and crowning mastka. Exterior pilaster supports the roof of the mandap at the front of the east west axial alignment. The wall openings between the pilasters are designed as cusped arches. Images of the Dasamaha Vidya are carved at spaced intervals just below the ceiling within the Mandap. The flat roof has two tires. A large image of Mahisamardini is at the front edge of the roof. The Devi is eight armed and placed within a circular medallion decorated with lotus petals.

History of temple administration:
If we go through the annals of history, we find that the Sarala temple was managed by a single man called “Parichha” and he was the sole authority (de-facto ruler) of the temple till mid eighties. In the year of 1863 Endowment Act was promulgated by the British rulers and a no. of religious establishments came under the control of Endowment for the first time in the history of India.

As per the historical evidences, immediately after the promulgation of endowment act the administration of religious establishments like Kadam Rasul (Cuttack) Jaganath Ballva Math (Puri), Sakhi Gopal (Puri District), Lingaraj Temple (Bhubaneswar), Baladev Jew Temple (Kendrapara), Govinda Jew Temple (Kendrapara), Bhagabati Temple (Banapur) and Sarala Temple of Jhankad (Cuttack district) came under endowment. According to this act, a three member trustee will be in charge of the administration of the religious establishments under the endowment and the District Judge of the concerned districts were empowered to select three members (normally eminent persons) as Trustees for the concerned religious establishments.

After the endowment took control over the temple administration some of the prominent personalities were nominated by District Judge of Cuttack for Sarala Temple and they are Dasa Rathi Das, Gokulananda Choudhury, Giris Chandra Ray Chaudhuri, Raybahadur Nimain Charan Mitra, Babu Shyam Sundar Bose, Babu Kapileswar Das, Susil Raj Choudhury, Niranjan Parija.

Though the endowment act had many good provisions for the temple administration but it had a serious drawback. Once appointed, a member gets lifetime tenure as a trustee and can only be succeeded by other nominated members after his death. Because of this provision in the act, some ineffective members started continuing in different temple administrations for years together without significant or no contributions. The Sarala temple was not an exception. Most of the members nominated by District Judge, Cuttack were hesitant to visit the Sarala Temple as because it was little far away (fifty kilometers) from Cuttack and was not connected with good roads. So they used run the administration of the temple from Cuttack. Therefore after the appointment of trustees, there was no change in the administration scenario in Sarala Temple and it remained as before. After few years, for crisis management the then Trust Board appointed a local headman named Chintamani Parija of Tentulipada village as manager of the temple and this man brought some changes in the administration during his tenure as manager. But probably that was not enough and the villagers of nearby villages were highrunly dissatisfied the way the temple was administered.

In the year of 1928, the Cuttack District Judge received some complaints regarding mismanagement in the temple. To streamline the administration, the District Judge nominated Ray Bahadur Chintamani Acharya and Choudhury Brajanath Mishra of Veda village as members in the temple trust board and that heralded a new era in the administration of Sarala temple. Ray Bahadur Chintamani Acharya took very good initiative to make administration more efficient and effective. He also had brought some changes to the old rules and enforced new rules and regulations for the long term benefit of the temple. During his tenure, the development of the Sarala temple reached a new height.

In absence of proper rules and regulations for temple administration the donations of the pilgrims were taken away either by the Sevayats or by Parichhas (Hereditary administrator of the temple) and could not be used for the welfare of the temple. But for the first time in the history of the temple, Chintamani Acharya, had brought changes by making new laws through trust board to discontinue the above practice. Moreover under the new law, he ensured that donation of the pilgrims either in cash or kind is accepted by the temple administration. Also to properly account for the donations, he started the system of providing printed receipts to pilgrims against their donations. While implementing new rules for the betterment of the temple, there was growing dissatisfaction among Pujakas or Sevayats. Ray Bahadur Acharya immediately realized this and to address this issue he proposed a unique model of temple income sharing by the Sevayats. As per the model, on a particular day, those (the Sevayats) are on duty would get 14 of the temple income of that day. By enacting these new laws through the trust board and by creating public awareness, Ray Bahadur Acharya was able attract good amount of donations from the general public. Later on these public donation money was utilized for the improvement of the temple and brought a visible change in and around the temple area.

Ray Bahadur Chintamani Acharya will be always remembered for his contributions for the development of the Sarala temple. Besides development, he was responsible for preparing a by-law for temple administration, which laid the foundation stone for the proper administration of Sarala Temple and for which his name will be written in the golden letters in the history of the temple. As per the by-law an honorarium was fixed (Prapye pauna) for the Panda Sevak for the first time in the temple history and after the by-law came into force, the old hereditary Parichha administration was completely abolished.

“The Parichha administration was most corrupt and lethargic because of hereditary in nature. We don’t have any hesitation to abolish it by preparing a new by-law” said Ray Bahadur Chintamani Acharya, before discontinuing the Parichha administration in Sarla Temple. From that time onwards the ritualistic duty of Parichha was handed over to a representative selected from the panda pujaks. Narasingha Pand, was the first empowered Panda Pujak and performed the ritualistic duty of Parichha. He was successful to discontinue the age old animal sacrifice system by mobilizing public and Pujak Sevaks of the temple. In the year of 1946 entry of Harijan people (Harijan prabesh) into the temple was organised by P.S.P leader Nisamani Khuntia and it was another important event in the history of the temple. It was a great conflict between sevayat and administration in the history of temple.

In the year of 1939, Hindu Devotara Endowment act came into force and a commissioner became the head of the endowment. Trustee appointment power was transferred from District Judge to Endowment Commissioner. As per the new act, the trust board once constituted will have five years tenure and it has to be re-constituted after each five years. Under the Hindu Devotara Commissioner in the first trust board Ray Bahadur Chintamani Acharya was appointed as managing trustee, Baman Charana Mohanty and Giridhar Das were appointed as two members. After five years, in the year 1945, the trust board re-constituted and in the place of Giridhar Das, Sarat Chandra Parija appointed as the trustee.

List of Trustees and members:

1.Raybahadur Chintamani Acharya, President M.A.B.L.A.D.V, Cuttack
Bamana Charana Mohanty, Indrapa Kacheri Giridhari Das, Jamindar, Kantapada (Members-5.11.1940 to 12.04.1946)

2.Chintamani Acharya, President
Sarat Chandra Parija Bamana Charana Mohanty (Members-13.04.1946 to 28.03.1953)

3. Chintamani Acharya, President
Sarat Chandra Parija Nisamani Khuntia Kisori Charan Das Baman Charan Mohanty (Members-29.03.1953 to 28.03.1957)

4. Kisori Charan Das (President- 29.03.1957 to 08.12.1957)

5. Sarat Chandra Parija, President
Bamana Charan Mohanty Nisamani Khuntia (Members- 29.03.1957 to 08.12.1957)

6. Pratap Chandra Mohanty, President
Kisori Charan Das Damodar Das Baman Charan Mohanty Narasingha Panda (Members-09.12.1957 to 30.05.1964)

7. Pratap Chandra Mohanty, President
Hari Charan Das Baman Charan Mohanty (Members- 31.05.1964 to 26.10.1966)

8. Bhabagrahi Mohanty, President
Purna Chandra Mohanty Narayan Rath Kali Prasana Acharya (Members- 1967 to1971)

9. Uchabbananda Samantray (Sole Trustee- 1972 to 1976)

10. Sricharan Mohanty, President
Khetra Mohan Biswal Rajkishore Mohanty Baishnab charan Panda (Members- 1976 to 1978)

11. Kshetra Mohan Biswal, President
Sricharan Mohanty Maheswar Das Daitari Mishra Rajkishore Mohanty (Members-01.01.1980 to 20.11.1987)

12. Bishnu Charan Biswal, Tahasildar, Tirtol (Sole Trustee 21.11.1987 to 31.12.1988)

13. Adikanda Samantray, President
Basant Kumar Parija Mahant Bhanupratap Das Bishnu Charan Biswal Nityananda Nath (Members - 01.01.1989 to 31.12.1990)

14. Govinda Chandra Sahoo, Tahasildar,
Tirtol (Sole Tustee-01.01.1991 to 14.09.1992)

15. Ajit Kumar Mahapatra, President Sarada Charan Mohanty Patitapabana Hota (Members-15.09.1992 to 05.07.1995)

16. Pradipta Kumar Panda, A.D.M. Paradeep (Trustee 06.07.95 to 08.05.97)

17. Gangadhar Singh, A.D.M. Jagatsinghpur (Middle Period Trustee 09.05.97 to 03.07.98)

18. Pramod Kumar Pani,A.D.M. Jagatsinghpur (Trustee 04.07.98 to 09.03.02)

19. Duryodhan Das, A.D.M. Jagatsinghpur (Trustee 10.03.02 to 17.10.03)

20. Duryodhan Giri, A.D.M. Jagatsinghpur (Trustee 18.10.03 to 26.02.04)

21. Laxmidhar Nayak, A.D.M. Jagatsinghpur (Trustee 27.02.04 to 31.08.06)

List of Executive officers:

1. Golekha Chandra Mahapatra (01.01.1954 to 1969)
2. Gatikrushna Mohanty
3. Braja Mishra
4. Golekh Mohapatra (Manager 1972 to1977)
5. Narendra Nath Mohanty (01.04.77 to 04.07.84)
6. Bishnu Charan Mahapatra (05.07.84 to 25.09.85)
7. Natabar Mishra (26.09.85 to 23.08.87)
8. Niranjan Mohanty (24.08.87 to 31.05.89)
9. Harish Chandra Jena (01.06.89 to 15.06.89)
10. Prabhu Charan Swain (16.09.89 to 12.09.90)
11. Upendra Nath Rout (13.09.90 to 17.07.92)
12. Kedara Nath Rath (18.07.92 to 09.12.92)
13. Lokanath Das (10.12.92 to 29.05.94)
14. Sukadeba Biswal (30.05.94 to 03.07.95)
15. Dasarathi Satpathy (04.07.95 to 31.10.95)
16. Alekha Charan Sahoo (01.11.95 to 31.07.97)
17. Bhramarabara Ojha (01.08.97 to 31.12.02)
18. Alekha Charan Sahoo (01.01.02 to 05.06.03)
19. Ranjan Kumar Parida (06.06.03 to ---------)


Landed property of the temple:

The temple has a good amount of landed properties donated by the local landlords and Zamindars from time to time. As per an old statistics of landed property prepared by the then trustee, Ray Bahadur Chintamani Acharya in the year 1946, the total landed property of the temple was AC-516.24 De

      Baheli - A-360.81D
      Bajyapti - A-128.62D
      Istamurari Patta - A-12.00D
      Stitiban Satwa - A-14.18D
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      Total - A-516.24D

However, the latest statistics on landed properties reveals that now the temple has A-117 and 11D of landed properties and per the details given below

      Agricultural Land - A-53.73D
      Jaygiri - A-10.82D
      Beaaini Patasutre Dakhal - A-9.65D
      Bijesthali - A-9.05D
      Hata Bagicha - A-23.61D
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News

The Sarala Temple Trust Board meeting was held on 2nd. October' 2012 on collector's office under the presidentship of Collector, Jagatsinghpur
The devotees are requested to donate generously in the "Hundi" placed inside and outside temple premises. Your donation in the "Hundi" goes to the temple fund.
An ATM is opened near the temple for the convenience of the devotees and general public
Tthe temple "Prasad" is now available for general public at a cost Rs. 35/- per person. Arrangements are made for taking "Prasad" in newly constructed "Anand Bazar", backside of the temple.
 

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