Odisha: Here, liquor and fish are offered as ‘prasad’

JAGATSINGHPUR: The temple of Goddess Uttershwari, located in a narrow bylane of Paikasahi village, appears like any other temple in the area. The ‘bhog’ offered to the deity, however, is what sets it apart from other temples in the State. Here, the Goddess accepts liquor and fish to cure her devotees of diseases like epilepsy.
Located in Ibirisingh panchayat of Tirtol tehsil, the temple was built by the then zamindar Kanungo Krupasindhu Das. A Brahmin Janardan Pani, who used to eke out living by begging, once dreamt of a goddess telling him that she will stay in the village and cure people of many diseases. Pani told Das about his dream and he constructed a temple in the name of Goddess Utterswari. The temple was damaged in 1967 cyclone and a new one was built with Pani as the priest.
One day, Pani suffered from seizures and fell unconscious in the temple. He was cured after taking the ‘bhog’ of the Goddess. He then started offering fishes and Somarasa (alcohol) to appease the Goddess. Later on, people started offering liquor and fish to the deity to cure their children suffering from epilepsy.
Today, devotees in large numbers bring their children to the Goddess to cure them from epilepsy.
The puja paraphernalia they offer contains flowers, fruits and a small bottle of alcohol. One can get a variety of liquor near the temple, be it wine or whiskey. The priest opens the liquor bottle and puts half of the content in a shallow plate which is placed near the mouth of Goddess Uttershwari. Chief priest of the temple, Banambar Mishra, said after fish and liquor are offered to the deity, the ‘prasad’ is distributed to people and children suffering from epilepsy.
“Then, the affected people and children are caned amid chanting of mantras to cure them of epilepsy and other diseases,” he added. Sarpanch of Ibirisingh, B Bandana Das, said earlier devotees used to offer liquor during day time but now, this has been restricted to night time to check anti-social elements near the temple. Considering the uniqueness of the temple, locals have been demanding construction of a main gate, a boundary wall and lighting arrangements around the temple. No help from any quarter has been forthcoming though.

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