The temples of the holy city are wearing a festive look this Navratri period concluding on Monday. The temples devoted to goddess are bedecked with red colour predominant in decorations but here near to Alaknanda ghat on laltarao bridge, a temple to the goddess Makarvahini on the banks of Ganga, presents a different picture. This temple was established by the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram a few decades ago.
Enter the temple and on the gate and corridor, one can’t miss makhanas (lotus seeds) and decorative garlands of whole coconuts hanging from the ceiling of the temple where the goddess idol stands.
There is some more vegetative aspect to it on Ashtami puja. In the evening the goddess is bedecked with jewels made of vegetables, including garlands of ladyfinger, brinjal, lauki (bottle gourd), peas, celery. “We start decorating the deity in the afternoon and after 6 pm the temple is open for darshan for the devotees till midnight,” tells the head priest Gopal Krishan who hails from Tamil Nadu and encounters difficulty speaking in Hindi.
On one side of the temple five workers are seen busy threading vegetables with needle in the ashram premises. This is the ‘devi’s shringar (ornament) ‘, beams one of the shy priests. One after the other, banana bunches, jackfruit, bottle gourd get sewed with these skilled hands.
Mythology goes that in Treta Yug there was a famine and people worshipped to the holy trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Pleased with their prayers, Goddess appeared before them in the form of Shakumbhari( deity of vegetables) and produced variety of vegetables from different parts of her body. Since then people worship the goddess in the form of Shakumbhari and decorate her with vegetables on Ashtami (eighth navratra day).