Shri Marikamba Temple
Source: The Board of Trustees, Shri Marikamba Temple, Sirsi. 1974
Goddess Shri Marikamba of Sirsi
Environmentally the district of North Kanara is visit-worthy, and sacred as also on account of its shrines and Temples. The beach of Karwar so much eulogised by the poet Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the world famous Gersoppa Falls, and Gokarn the Kashi of the south are some of the note-worthy places of the district. And particularly in Sirsi, aptly called the crest of the district the historical places of Sonda and Banavasi stand mute witnesses to their greatness and glory with their hoary past of temples and forts and stone-inscriptions even after lapse of centuries.
Green-fields and glowing rocks and sparkling streamlets, bedecked and studded with close knit sprinkling of Cocoanut groves, areca gardens as far as the eyes can reach the sylvan grandeur of the coiling ghats beckon the onlookers with an irresistible attraction, No wonder that the holy Goddess sought to haunt and stay over in such an environment, is bent on fulfilling the desired objects of Her dear devotees.
The benign deity of Shri Marikamba is the one Goddess enshrined in the hearts of lakhs of devotees in and around North Kanara. The fame of Shri Marikamba stretches as far back as to about 300 years when in the year 1611 of Shalivahan era on Tuesday the 8th of Vaishakh, She is said to have been installed by the then King of Sonda Immadi Sadashiva Rao under instructions from the Swamy of Nandikeshwaramath.
As the story goes, the Goddess is said to have told a devotee in dream that her insignia was to be found in a tank on the out skirts of the town and to derive benefit to the region by its installation and worship. Accordingly the original idol is being worshipped then onwards.
Unfathomable are the ways of Gods, whose mere wishes can transform a wilderness into a town in no time. The then little known village of Sirsi of about 200 inhabitants is today brimming with a population exceeding 30,000 and is flourishing as the richest region of the district, only because of the kind grace of the auspicious Goddess Shri Marikamba.
Fame of Worship
The fame of the Goddess is far-flung and wide and ever growing. She is the fulfiller of the desired objects of the afflicted devotees. Hence She is receiving offerings in Thousands from far and near.
Purity of Mind is the highest stage of devotion. The mode of propitiation of Shri Shakti is variegated. Naturally it is in tune with the devotee's culture. In Shri Marikamba's case Her worship is quite easy and simple. No sacrificial oblations are required and nothing of the kind. She is pleased with whatsoever a trifling offer of the devotee like burning incense and lighting camphor. Least of all is the vocal surrender, "Oh, Mother, Save me."
As elsewhere here too, offerings besmeared with the bloods of animals were in vogue till some time back. But the days have changed. Cultural programmes put an end to beastly methods of offerings culminating in the present day non-violent methods of worship. The gradual change-over is nothing hut Her sweet will.
The Greatness of the Idol
The Idol of the Goddess is about 11ft. high. The deity predominates the sanctum sanctorum with different kinds of weapons in her eight hands, and seated on a lion. It is an architectural beauty commanding veneration from the devotee more so when adorned with full ornaments leading one to purity, bliss, blessedness and peace.
The splendid auditorium (probably such spacious auditoriums are rare in Karnataka) and the extensive verandahs themselves proclaim the greatness of Shri Marikamba. The front open space of the temple is occupied by minor temples of Shri Mahaganapati, Ishwara and Hanumanta. The Temple of Ganapati has been re-built on modern lines without, in the least, marring its antique nature.
The annual chief festivals are Navaratri, Deepavali, Kartik Illumination and Jayanti. A short stay in the temple on such occasions will give one an idea of the congregetion of devotees.
Really speaking Navaratri is the occasion of worshipping Shri Shakti. But here Navaratri along with Durga Puja is celebrated with cultural programmes also. Competitions are conducted in the Art of Drawing Rangoli designs, dances and exhibition of fruits and vegetables with scope for all in the district to participate. Kirtankars and orators from different places are also invited and honoured. Such things rarely take place else-where.
Car-Festival of Shri Marikamba takes place once in two years in the spacious ground specially maintained for the same. About a lakh and a half people young and old come here to propitiate the Goddess with their offerings for seven continuous days and pray for their happiness and prosperity. The scene is better witnessed than described.
Shri Marikamba may not be as rich as Shri Timmappa of Tirupati but She is a millionaire with ever growing riches. The Government appointed a Board of Trustees in 1955 to be re-appointed by the District Judge every five years. At present Shri B. D. Hegde, Dodmane is the President of the Board with Smts. Anasuya Sharma Kallal, Kumuda Nilekani, Shri Shankar Revankar and Shri P. A. Telang as members. The Board is to work within the frame work of the constitution called the "SCHEME" and the District Judge is the controller. The main purpose of the "Scheme" is to sponsor and accomplish the religious, moral, educational, cultural, social and industrial developement of the area. And the major portion of the income is expended towards such activities.
The fame of Shri Marikamba has spread far and wide. A Travellers'-Home befitting the dignity and prosperity of the Deity is the present dire need to cater to the convenience of the devotees coming from far off places. The Blue-print of the splendid building is ready. The Board of Trustees is confident that this and other works like the renovation of the Auditorium are possible with the grace of Shri Marikamba overhead. "OH GENEROUS DEVI ! GLORY TO YOU"
She is generous, and tolerant towards all religions. Many an educational institution and students, poor and helpless people have benefited under the compassionate care of Sri Devi. Although She is a Hindu Goddess, She is the bountiful mother of all. There is no distinction between Hari-jans and Girijans no priority on grounds of religion. Devotees of all religions look upon Her Motherliness and feel themselves elevated and blessed in worshipping Her.
She subdues the wicked and protects the virtuous. Hence She is Mari in
rage and Mother in Love, that is Shri Marika-Amba (Marikamba).
Shri Devi is said to preserve the Universe in the form of the Mother
Earth. The self same deity here in Sirsi is ever standing guard as Shri
Marikamba in brief, if one goes on folded knees before Her with untainted mind
She cures one of all diseases and grants all desires. There is no
danger to one who takes refuge in Her. In turn, others will take
shelter in such a one. By whatever name you call Her, She is Vishnu
Himself. For it is said:-
NAMAHSTASYAI NAMAHSTASYAI NAMAHSTASYAI NAMO NAMAH."
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