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Serpent goddess revered in Meghalaya village

Author: Manosh Das
Publication: The Times of India
Date: Aug 18, 2014
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/Serpent-goddess-revered-in-Meghalaya-village/articleshow/40349414.cms

Almost every house in the heritage village of Nartiang in the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya has a portrait of Goddess Bishohori or Monosha, who is worshipped as the mother of serpents.

 The temple of Bishohori was built by the ancient Jaintia Kings. Bishohori literally means one who takes away poison.

 "The Jaintia kings had inculcated this ritual from the plains of erstwhile undivided Bengal bordering their kingdom of Jaintiapur," said Naba Bhattacharjee, working president of the Central Puja Committee.

"The kings had integrated this borrowed ritual with their own traditional form of worship, which can be witnessed even today among the followers at Nartiang, patronized by the Doloi (traditional village headman) and performed by Lyngdohs (the priests)," Bhattacharjee, who had witnessed the traditional puja of Bishohori, added.

 In fact, the Bishohori puja is performed in almost every household in this historic village with much more pomp and grandeur than the annual Durga Puja.

 Nartiang is a noted tourist destination for it houses the summer palace of the Jaintia King whose capital was Jaintiapur. It celebrates the Durga puja every autumn in a unique way. It is a fusion of the culture of Bengal and that of the Khasi-Jaintia Hills. In conformity with the Khasi custom of not using figurine images of gods and goddesses, the image of Durga is represented by a plantain trunk decked with marigold flowers.

 The Nartiang Durga temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha, one of the most revered shrines of Shaktism. The Shakti Peethas have originated from the mythology of Daksha yagna and Sati's self immolation. Shiva carried the corpse of Sati and body parts of the corpse fell in the path he wandered.

There are 51 Shakti Peeths linking to the 51 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each temple has shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The "Shakti" of Nartiang Devi shrine is worshipped as "Jayanti" and the "Bhairava" as "Kamadishwar". It is believed that Sati Devi's left thigh had fallen here. Close by, is a Shiva temple, which also houses remains of ancient cannons, used by the tribal kings.
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