With a mammoth gathering and marked by devotional celebration on the fifth and last Tuesday of the auspicious month of Chaitra, the month long famous and biggest annual Chaitra festival at the ancient Taratarini Hill shrine came to an end. The ritualistic worship of the devotees and invocation of divine benediction charged the atmosphere with an exhilarating blend of spirituality and an all pervading solidarity.
It is notable, that all the Tuesdays of the month of Chaitra are days of celebration at this hill shrine and devotees gather in lakhs from the cross section of the country to take a glimpse of Adi Shakti Maa Taratarini (Sthana Peetha of Mata Sati and one amongst the 4 major ancient Shakti centers in India) to eradicate evil from the world and to fulfill all their worldly desires.
Like the other Tuesdays of the month there was also heavy rush on the last and fifth Tuesday on the hill top temple as it also happened to be Chaitra Purnami and the last day of the holy month of Chaitra. Darshan for the devotees started in the specially decorated sanctum sanctorum of the hill top temple after the midnight of Monday at around 3.00 a.m and continued up to late evening.
It is important to note that after the formation of the Tara Tarini Development Board this famous Breast Shrine got the much needed attention and owing to that in the last 7 years the number of pilgrims visiting to the shrine has gone up significantly. Last year more than 17 lakh people visited the hill shrine during the entire month of Chaitra. This year the number swelled further. During five Tuesdays of the month around 20 lakh devotees and tourists visited the Sthana Peetha. However, the figures available from various unofficial sources, particularly from the local media reveal that this year’s gathering has surpassed the records of earlier years and even surpassed the 20 lakh figure mark anticipated by the board.
It a known fact that despite the development initiatives undertaken with active participation of the people in the last 7 years, the existing infrastructure is proving inadequate and the significant growth of tourists and visitors has come as a big challenge for the Taratarini Development Board (TTDB). Being aware of this challenge the present Tara Tarini Development Board Chairman and RDC Southern Division Shri Chandrasekhar Kumar, Ganjam District Collector and deputy chairman of the Board Shri VK Pandian and other board members have decided to focus on the time bound completion of the ongoing projects of the shrine and to take up more number of developmental projects for the benefit of the growing number of visitors. To keep pace with this, the Board has approved a number of new projects recently. Some of the prioritized list of works proposed by the TTDB to be taken up for the convenience of devotees and tourists are…………
• For the benefit of devotees steps would be taken next year to arrange around 5000 tents with all other basic facilities for the temporary accommodation of at least 50,000 people.
• Dedicated bus service to the hill shrine for smooth transportation.
• Permanent accommodation facility for the visitors on the foot hill.
• The work of the hill top temple complex with four Parshwa temples and boundary wall to be completed in a time bound period.
• Completion of administrative office and ultra modern lavatory complex within a month on the hilltop.
• Construction of Mundan shade on the hilltop.
• Further development of Arial Rope-way.
• Construction of outer protection walls and River side retaining wall to check land sliding and soil erosion at the hilltop.
• Construction of huge parking space at the hilltop.
• Lighting arrangements at the hilltop and the ways leading to the hill top temple.
• Widening of stone steps and arrangement of public utilities/ rest houses.
• Further widening of the existing road to the Hilltop.
• Maintenance of eco-system in and around the sacred hill by huge plantation in its nearby areas etc.
This year the biggest fair of Orissa at this shrine has passed off peacefully without any untoward incidents. TTDB thanks the local administration, volunteers, social organizations and local people for their excellent support during the month. The media (both electronic and print) which ensured that the happenings of the festivals reach those people who could not physically attend the festivities at the hill shrine of Maa Tara Tarini and their devoted work is praise worthy. TTDB appreciates their tireless efforts. By R P Tripathy