History

It was noon with the blazing sun above. The cattle boy sitting under a cool shady tree watching his grazing cattle, got up to gather his herd to take down the hill to water. He was about to give out the call when he got awe struck at the sudden flash of light and emergence of a radiant figure of a Goddess in that flash.

Who is this heavenly lady and where did she suddenly come from to this odd place on the hill at this odd hour of the day ? Then he heard Her speaking to him with a deep humming sound coming from far and near, from all around and from the depths of the valley below.

"I wish to dwell here, in this place. Go and get your landlord here"."But I have yet to water my cattle".

At this demur, the Goddess lightly struck on the earth with the Nupur in Her toe and with that gentle flick, a gush of crystal clear blue water sprang up from under that solid black laterite rocky earth.

"Let your cattle have this water to drink. Now you can go and call your landlord".The cattle boy bolted down the hill on the wings. The landlord was not at home. The son-in-law of the house, Mhal Sharma, listened to the cattle boy and went with him up the hill.

At the sight of the divine, dazzling apparition of the Goddess, gleaming in a cool pearly aureola of thousand moons, he lay prostate on the earth in complete submission.
He heard Her speaking unto him in the same melodious resounding voice.
"I want to stay right here, at this place. Unearth at this spot and you will find Me in an Idol. Put up a temple on this place for Me to stay in". And in a jifty, She disappeared.

As the legend has it, Shree Mahalasa arrived at Vernem plateau on that day. The tale continues to be passed from generation to generation.

A tank with a perennial spring of water, existing from times unknown, on the hillock of Vernem in the vicinity where once stood a magnificent temple of Shree Mahalasa, is known as Nupur Tali or Nupur tank deriving its name from the legend.

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The temple of Goddess Mahalasa had been on the plateau of Verna village in Salcette taluka from ancient times long before the advent of the Portuguese rule in this part of Goa.

The entire habitation was historically known as VARENYAPUR or VARUNAPUR and the premises on the beautiful lush green plateau of this village where the remnants of that magnificent edifice of the temple are still seen, was later known as Maddol. There is no historical evidence or any record available to decide as to when this temple was founded at this place in Varenyapur.

Its mythological reference is found in Skand Purana. It is the largest of all Puranas and is believed to have been written between seventh and ninth century A. D. In this Purana, there are two Adhyayas (Chapters) entitled "Varunapur Mahatmya" in the section of Sahyadri Khand and the legend of Shree Mahalasa of Varunapur is narrated in these two Adhyayas. It runs as below :

Varunapur is a very beautiful, rich place abundant with precious gems. Once upon a time, the people of the place performed JYOTISTOM YADNYA to invoke Divine Blessings for the welfare of the people. During the performance, Parashuram made an appearance before the devotees who became ecstatic at his sight. Parashuram then instructed Varuna to construct a beautiful temple at the place for him. The instructions were scrupulously carried out and a beautiful temple was erected.

Parashuram was delighted to see the magnificent temple, a temple unparalleled in excellence. It was indeed a beautiful, splendid, majestic creation of Varuna. Parashurama blessed the place and named it as Varunapur.

Later, at one occasion when the people of Varunapur were celebrating the festival of Parashurama on (Friday) Shudha Navami of Vaishakha (ninth day of moon-lit fortnight of month Vaishakha) there appeared a demon called Chandasur who started inflicting unbearable miseries on the people of Varunapur. Hence all the people of Varunapur offered fervent prayers to Parashurama and ardently urged to grant them succour against the miseries caused by the demon. At that time, pleased by the prayers of the people, Parashurama again made an appearance and told the worshippers that an omnipotent Goddess would dwell in that temple and if they worshipped Her with full and total submission and devotion, She will grant them deliverance from the sufferings to which they were subjected by the demon. This Goddess has nine forms known as Adi Shakti, Mahamaya, Mulprakruti, Ishwari, Gandhadwara, Duradarsha, Nityapusta, Karishini and Shridevi at respective nine parts of a day viz., Pratahkal (dawn), Purvanha (morning), Madhyanha (noon), Aparanha (afternoon), Sayamkal (evening), Pradosh (dusk), Ratri (night), Madhya Ratri (mid night), and Apar Ratri (past mid night).

She is to be worshipped reciting twenty-four names viz. Durga, Bhadrakali, Vijaya, Vaishnavi, Kumuda, Dandika, Krishna, Madhavi, Kanyaka, Maya, Narayani, Shanta, Sharada, Ambika, Katyayani, Baldurga, Maha Yogini, Adhishwari, Yog Nidra, Mahalaxmi, Kalratri, Mohini, Sarva Dev Namaskarya and Bharati.
Thus instructing the people to worship the Goddess with full devotion and submission, Parashurama proceeded to Gomantak hills.

All the people of Varunapur offered prayers to the Goddess with total humility and devotions as directed by Parashurama. The Goddess, pleased with their prayers and worship, made an appearance and slained the demon Chandasur. She chopped off his head, which She held in Her left forehand and entered the temple.

The people rejoiced at this victory and offered their grateful prayers to the Goddess Mahalasa or Resplendent Goddess. This day of victory was the sixth day of moon-lit fortnight of the month of Magha. The people thereafter annually celebrated this day to mark the victory of the Goddess and offered their prayers.

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As per Sankhya School of philosophy the universe exists in dual form viz. Purush and Prakruti. From this basic premise the concepts of Shiva and Shakti were developed at the later stage thereby giving rise to the worship of Rudra and Rudrani. The worship of Rudrani subsequently evolved Shakta Cult viz., the cult of the worship of Goddess, the Shakti.

The practice of worship of Goddess is as old as the Mohenjodaro civilization or the Indus civilization. The Shakta cult later developed the concept of sixty-four Yoginis and the worship of the Goddess became popular among a very large section of the society.

The present vertical form of the idol of Shree Mahalasa at Maddol (vari. Mardol) is in conformity with the practice in Shakta Cult. Sixty-four Yoginis and also Malhari who is but Shiva, are included in the Panchisthas (Deities with the next order of importance) of Shree Mahalasa.

The Goddess Shree Mahalasa is directly connected with the mythological story of Samudra Manthana or Churning of the sea appearing in the eighth chapter of Bhagwat Purana. The gist of this story is as below :

Once upon a time, the Gods and the Demons (Danavas) took to churn the sea to retrieve back the treasure, which was sunk in the sea due to the curse of Durvasa. During the course of churning emerged out fourteen "Ratnas" (precious gems), Amrut (nectar) being the most important of all, as it was the elixir of immortality. Then a fight ensued between the Gods and the Danavas to get the Amrut and in order to help the Gods, as ever, Lord Vishnu had to appear among them in Mohini incarnation or enchantress. She was so beautiful that the passionate Danavas with their eyes all riveted on her, forgot the mission of fighting. Keeping the Danavas spell bound, Mohini distributed Amrut among the Gods and nothing was left for the Danavas.

This Mohini incarnation of Lord Vishnu is being worshipped as Shree Mahalasa, the later name being derived from another lore.
The legend has that Lord Shiva was also got enticed by the charming of Mohini and she had to promise him that in times ahead at much later age Lord Shiva will be born as Martand Bhairav and she will be born with the name Mahalasa and shall then marry him.
In course of time, Lord Shiva was born and named as Martanda Bhairav with a mission to conquer and wipe out a demon called Mallasur. Therefore he famed to be known as Malhari.

In those times Mohini was also born in the family of one Tima Shet and the child was named Mhalsa. Malhari later married Mhalsa and thus basically Shree Mahalasa continued to be associated with Mohini or Lord Vishnu.

According to another lore, Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva appeared to Him as beautiful as Mohini when She was born with the name of Mhalsa in the later times. Thus Shree Mahalasa again remains associated with Mohini incarnation or Lord Vishnu.

There is one more mythological story of Mohini incarnation, widely known as Bhasmasur Mohini. However, Shree Mahalasa is associated with the story of churning of the sea for Amruta and known as Amruta Mohini only, having no reference to the story of Bhasmasur of the other legend.

In Brahmand Puran, Shree Mahalasa is associated with the Amruta Mohini only. In "Katha - Kalpa - Taru" too the same association is maintained.

According to Sthan Pothi, the temples of Shree Mahalasa existed at four different places viz., Bhogawati (Paithan), at Valsang (Dist. Aurangabad), at Nandura (Dist. Beed) and at Nevasem, on the banks of Pravara river. All these places are in the State of Maharashtra. There is no reference to the temple at Vernem or at Maddol. There is one more small temple, in Trimbakeshwara in Maharashtra but without any reference in Sthan Pothi. However, currently the temple at Nevasem and the temple at Maddol are the most renowned temples.

The Deity at Navasem is known as Mohini Raj and is associated with the same mythological story of Amruta Manthan. The idol holds Shankha (conch), Chakra, Gada and Amruta Kumbha in its four hands and thus clearly depicts its association with Lord Vishnu.

Though with the evolution of the Shakta Cult the practice of worship of the Goddess took an independent course, factually, it retained its nature of combined worship of Lord Shiva and Parvati or a Rudra and a Matrika. The worshipping practice of Shree Mahalasa includes the worship of Lord Shiva, popularly called as Malhari, Martand Bhairava or Khandoba or Saptakoteshwara (Yelu - Koteshwara in Kannada) in Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka. However, in Maddol, Shree Mahalasa is dissociated from the Shiva - Parvati concept and is entirely regarded as the Mohini incarnation of Lord Vishnu only. It is addressed as Shree Mahalasa Narayani to distinctly bring out its association with Lord Vishnu in Mohini incarnation. The Deity also wears "Yadnyopavitam" or the holy thread, which is considered to be male privilege, and indicates the link with original male deity, Lord Vishnu of the Holy Trinity.

According to Bharatiya Sanskruti Kosha (encyclopaedia of Indian Culture), Shree Mahalasa is patron deity of villages in parts of Karnataka. She was also known by other titles as Mallawa Devi, Mhalaja, Malachi Devi, Malati, Mhalasika, and Mahalaya etc.

In Brahmand Purana, the Goddess is addressed as Shree Mahalaya. According to Katha-Kalpa - Taru and also Markandey Puran, the distribution of Amruta among the Gods was done at a place known as Mahalaya. Probably the name of Shree Mahalaya was derived from the name of the said place.

In the well known thirteenth century composition of Dnyaneshwari, the Deity is addressed as Shree Mahalasa but in another composition called Bhavartha Deepika by the same author viz., Sant Dnyaneshwara, the same Deity is addressed as Shree Mahalaya. In the book entitled Leela Charitra, a contemporary prose composition by Mhaim Bhat of Mahanubhava Cult, the Deity is called Shree Mahalaya. From these references of the compositions of eleventh to thirteenth century it appears that the Deity was mainly addressed as Shree Mahalaya and as per the practice prevailing then, She was called Shree Mahalasa by replacing "Ya" by "Sa" as in the case of Mahadaisa, Baisa etc. for feminine names. It appears that with the passage of time the name Mahalaya prevailed.

It is now well accepted that Devi Upasana or worship of Goddess was practiced from a fairly ancient period. It continued for centuries and it appears that the practice of worship of this Deity Shree Mahalasa prevailed among a section of Saraswat Bhrahmins for the times much before they came down and settled in Gomantaka or Goa. In the Sahyadri Khand of Skand Purana, it is stated that Parashurama brought ten Saraswat Brahmin families into Gomantak from their earlier settlement in Trihotra of the North. These ten families brought with them their following family deities :Mangesh, Mahadev, Mahalaxmi, Mahalasa, Shantadurga, Nagesh and Saptakoteshwar.

Subsequently, more Saraswat families came down to Goa and they also brought their family deities. There were in all sixty six families, which settled in Salcette (Sasasti) Taluka. Out of them, six families settled in Varenyapur or Varunapur, now commonly known as Vernem.

It is apparent that these Saraswat families at Vernem worshipped this Goddess as their family deity from the times much before their arrival in Gomantak.

There is one more narrative fairly well in circulation about one Mhal Pai of Kaushik Gotra with Rigwedi Ashwalayan family who was a devout worshipper of Shree Mahalasa of Nevasem in Maharashtra and who attained a very high office of General during the rule of King Dhruva the Eighth, the successor in the Rashtrakuta dynasty in the eighth century A. D. After his retirement, he is said to have settled in Goa and introduced the worship of Shree Mahalasa of Nevasem, in this region.
This story apparently has some inherent contradictions. To begin with, the surname Pai indicates that Mhal Pai was a Saraswat Brahmin and as per the known history of Saraswat Brahmins, there were no settlements of Saraswats in that part of Maharashtra. Saraswats have their settlements in Southern parts of West Coast known as Aparant, starting right from Goa. Hence with the rational inference, Mhal Pai can be said to have migrated to the said part of Maharashtra from Aparant. Secondly, his name Mhal is derived from the holy title Mahalasa as per traditional practice and therefore it can be logically inferred that worship of Shree Mahalasa or Mhalasa was prevalent in the family of Mhal Pai who in all probability migrated to Maharashtra and attained the fame. Thirdly, the deity at Nevasem is addressed as Mohini Raj and not as Mhalasa. Hence there are no reasonable grounds to believe that Mhal Pai brought the said deity to Goa from Nevasem.

From the folklore related at the opening of this chapter it is vividly clear that the temple of Shree Mahalasa was at Maddol of Vernem village from very ancient times and the worship had its beginning after the unearthing of the idol and founding of the temple on that plateau.

In fact a story exactly on the same lines goes for the temple as Nevasem too. It is believed that Sardar Chandrachuda of the Court of the nobility of Holkar had a Divine dream in which he saw the Deity pointing him out Her Idol lying buried in the basin of Pravara River. As instructed in the Divine dream, Sardar Chandrachuda unearthed the Idol from the sandy basin and constructed the temple at Nevasem.

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The migration of this Deity from Varunapur or Vernem or now known as Old Maddol to its present location at Maddol in Ponda Taluka was by the mid sixteenth century but without any record as proof.

The detailed documented history of this migration is not yet available. However, as per available records of the other historical events of these times it can be safely concluded that this migration took place at around the period when the Christian missionaries fervently started the conversion activities in the island of Goa (Tiswadi) soon after it came under Portuguese rule.

From the correspondence of the Jesuit missionaries around this period, it is found that delegation of the missionary priests crossed the Zuari river and landed in the village of Cortalim on May 1, 1560. This delegation which went to the building of the temple of Manguesh, found it empty, the idols having been already removed away from there. Hence it can be concluded that the shifting of the idols was already started before that day.

The Portuguese established their hold in the island of Goa, by the end of the year 1510 A. D. The Christian missionaries immediately took upon themselves to wipe out the idolatry from this territory and convert the natives therefrom.
Afonso de Albuquerque, the founder of the Portuguese rule in Goa in the year 1510 A.D. is often said to have been friendly with the Hindu population. However, in his letter dated December 20, 1514 addressed to the king of Portugal he expresses his keen interest in promoting the conversions of the natives. He further gives a detailed account of his personal efforts and the persuasions put in to convince the king of Cochin to embrace Christianity.

In a letter dated January 6, 1515 written by one Andrew Corseli from Cochin to Duque Giuliano de Medicia of France, he informs that in the land of Goa, there are innumerable ancient deities of Gentiles and a magnificent temple from the island of Diwar was destroyed by the Portuguese who have no sense of appreciation for the wonderful skill and the aesthetic carving depicting the ancient mythological events and figures in the black stone, done with perfection. This Andrew Corseli in the same letter, promises to send a piece of a said carvings if, per chance he happens to get one so that His Highness may know as to how the art of engraving the reliefs in the granite stone had flourished in this land.

This letter obviously reveals one important fact that the destruction of the temples in this territory had already started before the date of this letter. The temples in the islands of Goa, Diwar, Chorao and Juva were demolished much before and by the year 1540 A.D.

By a resolution dated June 28, 1541, duly adopted in the meeting chaired by Fermao Rodrigues de Castelli Branco who was then the Controller of Finances and was also holding charge of the office of the Governor in the absence of the regular Governor, dom Estevao da Gama, the income and the land belonging to the demolished temples were awarded for the construction and maintenance of new chapels.

As revealed in a letter dated November 6, 1541 sent by one Martin de Melo, a nobleman and member of Royal Family to the king of Portugal, the conversions in the island of Goa were taken up on a massive scale by the missionaries and the same were in full swing then.

Though the infamous and highly dreaded inquisition was officially established by the year 1560 A.D., the persecutions were started much earlier. As per an account given by Gaspar Correia in his book "Lendas da India" an "Auto da Fe" or Act of Faith evinced by the inquisition, was carried out in the year 1543, by burning alive one Jeronimo Dias, a resident of island of Goa and medico by profession.

Prof. A. K. Priolkar, in his renowned work "The Goa Inquisition" has quoted a very large number of instances, as revealed from the contemporary records, about the severity of the religious persecutions long before the year 1543 A.D., the year by which the taluka of Salcette was wrested by the Portuguese from Ibrahim Adil Shah.

From these accounts it is very clear that the migration of the Hindu population from the island of Goa to the adjoining territories beyond the Portuguese occupation was already started. Since the migration of the grief stricken people could not be silent one without giving vent to their miseries, it will be correct and logical to infer that the entire population of these adjoining territories was fully aware of the frenzied persecution and devastations of the temples going on in the island of Goa. At the conquest of Salcette Taluka, it is but natural that the Hindu population, alarmed of being subjected to similar fate as that of island of Goa, would in right earnest start making preparations to escape the oncoming hurricane. It will be logical to believe that the people of Salcette would remain passive all along wishfully thinking that they would be spared of the inflictions met by the people of island of Goa. In fact being fully aware of what was going across the Zuari river, they would instantly get ready to escape the befalling calamity.

Since the missionary delegation which visited the temple of Manguesh at Sancoale on May 1, 1560 found it without the idol, it is evident that the shifting of the idol took place prior this day. In fact it could be at any time around the year 1543 A.D. and in every sensible probability, this period of shifting can be soon after the conquest. It will be unfair to extend it beyond one or two years after 1543 A.D., the year of conquest. On the contrary it will be just and fair to conclude that the said migration occurred soon after the conquest and so may be in the same year of 1543 - A.D.

This contention is supported by the fact that as revealed in the draft Compromisso of Shree Shantadurga Saunsthan, Gothan - Veling, that temple was shifted to its present location in the year 1553 A. D.

With this account, it is not incorrect to say that the migration of Shree Mahalasa from Verna to its present location in Ponda Taluka took place around the same period and most probably, in the year 1543 or 1544 A.D. after the conquest of Salcette. This new location soon derived its present name Maddol from the old location in the village of Vernem. Presently that old location in Vernem is known as Old Maddol.

There are many records available now giving a fairly good account about the said temple at Vernem.

In an extensive report dated December 12, 1567 submitted by one Irmao Gomes Vaz to the King of Portugal, several extracts from the various reports from the Captain of the Fort of Rachol are given, wherein the said captain Diogo Rodrigues enlists the temples demolished by him. One of the abstracts mentions the temple of "Malsa Devi" and in another report the said captain mentions to have destroyed the idol of the principal deity in the temple at "Alardol" which is corruption of the word Maddol. The report of Irmao Gomes Vaz mentions of having demolished several temples at Sancoale on March 15, 1567.

Irmao Gomes Vaz, in his said report dated December 12, 1567 has through more than four pages, lavishly praised the architectural excellence of this temple along with the well planned premises, holy tank, the wide sprawling vista around the temple, the tree-lined paved paths etc. Overwhelmed, he praises that he has never seen such a beautifully planned premises in whole of the Europe.
In fact Fr. Luis Goes, who was instrumental for the destruction of this temple, desired to preserve it for conversion into a Church of Our Lady of Concessao, the Queen Angel. But he could not succeed in getting the possession and save the building.

The entire temple premises with its outer boundary walls, had a semblance of a fortress. It had a large beautifully designed tank full of clean blue water as is still seen there. The entire premises and the parts were paved with laterite stones. The temple premises also provided shelter to several destitute widows. There was a local market near the temple and the shopkeepers were paying fixed annual rent to the temple.

The detailed account of the destruction of this temple is published in the Marathi monthly magazine "Bharat Mitra" of June 1954 as narrated by Dr. Pandurang Pissurlenkar from the tenth volume of "Documentacao Para a Historia das Missoes do Padrado Portuguese do Oriente". The gist of this account is as follows :

The missionaries were patiently waiting for the right opportunity to destroy this temple which was architecturally and aesthetically the best of all temples. They came to know that the Governor or the ninth Viceroy Dom Antao de Noronha needed some fine quality wood for the ordnance depot and the missionaries who were hitherto waiting for opportune time, promptly suggested him that the wood of the finest quality as required by him was available in this temple at Vernem. The Viceroy immediately wrote to captain Diago Rodrigues, the captain of the Rachol Fort, to destroy the said temple and get the wood for him.

On 7th of March, 1567, Captain Rodrigues went to this temple with his posse. A Portuguese missionary had already arrived there with some of his men. The temple priests were decorating the idol of Goddess with silver ornaments. The missionary ordered them to hand over those ornaments to the Captain. The Captain smashed the principal idol into pieces. He took away other idols and the missionaries did not object to that. The roof of the temple was felled on the same day but the walls remained in place.

Thereafter the captain gathered that some prominent Brahmins were planning to reconstruct the temple on arrival of a new Governor in future. Therefore the Captain again went to the place and razed the entire structure to the ground. This was done on March 14, 1567. The remnants of that majestic edifice are still visible at the site.

As mentioned by Dr. Pissurlenkar, the list available in the department of Archeology at Panaji, mentions the following deities which were in Vernem before their shifting :

1. Santeri 2. Malsa Devi 3. Narayan 4. Bhagawati 5. Gram Purush 6. Verna Devi 7. Lambeshwar.

Surprisingly, the foundation of the temple survived without any construction of any Church or Chapel thereon. A cross put up by the missionaries outside the compound wall of the temple is still without any roof for over next four centuries.
From the account given above it is clear that on that fateful day, the deity was being decorated with silver ornaments. Obviously all the golden ornaments along with the jewellery of the Deity were already removed from the temple. The account about the smashing the principal idol apparently leads to the inference that the present idol at Maddol must be a new one. However, a close look at this idol can easily convince the observer that this sculpture is not merely of four century old. The erosion vividly shows that its age is far more and beyond the period of four centuries. This idol must have been shifted much before the unfortunate day of destruction of that temple. With the full knowledge of the subjugation of the native population in the island of Goa and with the dark clouds of similar calamity hovering over Salcette at its conquest by the Portuguese, it will be simply wrong to presume that the people of Vernem remained inert and risked to retain the idols in the temple till the missionaries attacked. In fact the shifting of the idols could be en masse with secret planning. The idol that was broken by the Captain Diogo Rodrigues was something fake installed therein, certainly to mislead the attackers and avoid any further chase by them to trace the original idol, so also to retain claim of the premises.

The detailed account of the modalities adopted for the transfer of the said idol from Vernem to its present place viz. Maddol in Ponda Taluka is not known. It is possible that the said transfer was carried out under strictest secrecy to avoid any further danger to the idol. However, it is evident that the people of the village Priol led by the prominent family of Desai of Panchmen wado, whole heartedly welcomed the Goddess Shree Mahalasa and immediately arranged for the assistance for the daily rituals and also the maintenance. This was the most valuable and timely help in the critical times.

By the middle of 18th century, Shri. Ramchandra Malhar Sukthankar, a prominent personality from Goa, and who ascended to very high ranks in the Court of the Peshwas, got from the Peshwas the land around the temple duly transferred in the name of this temple.

The present temple is about four and a half century old. The records of its commencement and completion are not yet traceable. In the Shake year of 1789 called Prabhav Sanvatsar, the temple was repaired and the copper roofing was fixed. A copper plate available in the temple records mentions this renovation.

The idol of Shree Mahalasa, which is in the vertical standing position, has four hands. She is standing on a demon lying on the ground with his head at the right side of the idol. With Her right forehand She holds another demon by the tuft of the hair. This demon is in the kneeling position. In the left forehand She holds a chopped off head of the demon Chandrasur. In the right back-hand and left back hand She holds a Trisul (Trident) and the Amrita Kumbha (vessel of nectar) respectively.

The demon kneeling down at the right hand side is known as Virochana. The demon under the feet is believed to be Rahu who made sly attempt to get among the Gods and get Amruta from Mohini who wanted to exclusively distribute it among Gods only.
At the right hand side an animal sitting in the vertical position appears to be licking the chopped off head. From the shape of the head, ears and the tail, this animal looks like a tiger.

On the Prabhaval behind the idol, the name of Shree Mahalasa is inscribed in Devanagri script along with other insignia as Shankha, Chakra, Shesha etc. all signifying the association with Lord Vishnu. The Deity also wears a Yadnyopavitam and this is a unique feature.

An astrologer from Kerala, Shri. Puduval who was specially invited in the temple stated that the idol is of Gandaki Sheela and was brought from Nepal. He derived it with the help of Astha Mangal Kundali.

Apart from the main temple of Shree Mahalasa there is a separate temple of Shree Santeri in the premises at the right hand side of the main temple. This deity is always occupying the right hand place in all functions when the combined processions of both the deities are taken out. It is believed that Shree Mahalasa has promised Her the honour of Agrapooja and hence the right hand side seat.

The other deities who enjoy the second next importance are mentioned in the list given separately in this volume. A small temple of Shree Sinhapurush who is the Kul Purush (manes) of the Mahajan, Kulavis of Kaushik Gotra is at the left hand side of the main temple.

All these deities are interrelated to one another and during the period of Hari Jagar (Ashwin Pournima to Kartik Pournima), all these deities are offered Kakad Aratis and Naivedya in the early pre-dawn hour.

Shree Mahalasa is adorned as Bala after the Nirmalya Visarjan in the morning. After the Abhisheka the deity is adorned with selected ornaments. The Deity wears a pleasant look of lovable child after the adornment as Bala and though the decoration after Abhisheka remains unaltered for the rest of the day, the visitors get a pleasing and puzzling experience of having a feel of Yuvati or young lady at noon and a graceful Proudha or elderly lady in the evening. This astonishing feeling has been so widely known that it is reflected in a commonly used phrase referring to three Kalas or appearances of Mahalasa in the progression of a day.

The Goddess is regarded as Mohini incarnation of Lord Vishnu and therefore the devotees offer their worship with the usual adornment of Shree Mahalasa Nitya alankar or with a choice for adornment from among Rama Alankar, Venkatesh Alankar, Anant Shayan Alankar, Narayan Alankar, Vithoba Alankar, Balkrishna Alankar, Muralidhar Alankar, Kaliya Mardan Alankar, and also as Laxmi Alankar. On every Ekadashi day, the deity is adorned with Vithoba Alankar.

Though there are a large number of celebrations throughout the year, the major celebrations are during the Navaratra, in the month of Ashwin when Makharotsava is celebrated on first nine days at night. The devotees are blessed with the Kaul Karar through the Avasar (oracle) from Pournima to Vadya Panchami of the same month. The annual Zatrotsava of the temple is celebrated in the month of Magha from Vadya Chaturthi to Dashami with daily processions of both the deities in different Vahanas.

Other prominent celebrations are on Kartik Pournima, and Laxa Deepotsava on the following day. Mahashivaratri is another major celebration when the deity is adorned with Suvarna Mukha after the Abhishekha of fourth Prahara of that night.

In the premises of this temple there is a beautiful Deepasthambha as is commonly found in many temples in Goa. However, a Dnyandeep of Panchaloha with its height of 36.6 feet in the premises of this temple is a unique feature and exists only in this precinct.

This deity is worshiped by devotees from different communities spread all over the world. The devotees from the Saraswat community belong to Atri, Bharadwaj, Gargya and Kaushik Gotras. The deity is also worshipped by Daivadnyas and Vaishas and also by many other communities as per their family traditions for generations. The worship of this deity also prevails among many other Saraswat families with their different principal deities.

All these devotees arrive at Maddol with their humble hearts and complete submission to offer their prayers and services and seek the Divine Blessings from their most revered Kuldevata for the ever lasting happiness and peace in their family.

Blessed be the devotees of Shree Mahalasa with peace, prosperity and perennial happiness and their wishes be granted by Shree Mahalasa Devi.

(Adapted from the original article from the Souvenir published by the Construction Committee in 1993)

Bibliography

1. Correia Gaspar Lendas da India; Lisboa; 1778.
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