The Third Tuesday (April 16, 2013) of the Hindu month of Chaitra passed off peacefully at Maa Tara Tarini Hill Shrine near Berhampur in Odisha. More than five lakh devotees thronged this ancient Shakti shrine which is believed to have originated from the limbs of Mata Sati. Located on the banks of River Rushikulya, the Tara Tarini Hill Shrine draws people across the year, but the month of Chaitra and the Third Tuesday in particular witnesses the largest congregation of devotees. As per the age old practice, more than twenty thousand babies tonsured their heads during the day through ‘mundan’ and offer hairs seeking the blessings of the mother Goddesses for a blissful life.
The third Tuesday, considered the holiest in the annual calendar of events of the Hill Shrine, began with the chanting of traditional Mantras on the midnight of Monday. The priests performed the rituals of Snana, Majana and Maha Arati of the Goddesses before the sanctum sanctorum of the Shrine was thrown open for the devotees. Thousands of devotees were seen standing in queues on the hilltop to have an early darshan of the goddesses. Many senior officials of the State government were present on the occasion including Shri V. Karthikeya Pandian, I.A.S and Secretary to Chief Minister of Odisha, the District Collector of Ganjam Shri Krishan Kumar and the Superintendent of Police of the District, officials of the local administration, office bearers of TTDB and Tara Tarini temple administration were also present on the occasion.
The Third Tuesday of Chaitra which saw a footfall of more than 5 lakh people passed off peacefully. The entire Hill Shrine and its surrounding areas including the Rushikulya riverbank was chockablock from the wee hours till late evening. Devotees waited in long queues and dared late-afternoon drizzle to offer prayers at the temple on the hill-top and participate in the Chaitra Mela, one of the biggest religious fairs in the country. On this occasion, more than 10,000 groups were seen cooking in the surrounding locations and had a day of picnic at the Shrine. TTDB also arranged Khichdi Prasad of Maa Tara Tarini besides safe drinking water was distributed to the devotees.
Like the earlier occasions, heavy police deployment was made by the local administration to avert any untoward incident and control the large number of people gathered for the fair. The district administration also made arrangements to control traffic in and around the shrine. Police beat houses and temporary health centers were set up near the foot hill bus stop and at the Lions’ Gate of the shrine. Six special buses were pressed into service to help the devotees reach the hill top. Arrangements were also made for special Darshan of Maa on the hill shrine and more than 8,000 devotees queued up for special darshan on the hilltop.