Jajpur, April 13: It’s a rare event. The idol of a popular deity remains underwater for the entire year except for three days. The idol of the deity, known as Lord Narayan Gosain, is taken out of water on Maha Bishuba Sankranti every year so that devotees can offer their prayers. On the fourth day, the idol returns to its abode — a pond — and stays there till the next year.
Lord Narayan Gosain is worshipped in the remote Singhapur village of Jajpur district. The idol that is made of black granite has been in a pond in for the past 443 years.
It is widely believed that worshipping Lord Narayan Gosain fulfils all wishes made during this three-day ceremony. Lakhs of devotees from across the state and elsewhere throng Singhapur to offer their prayers.
Legend has it that during Islamic rule, the infamous idol-destroyer, Kalapahada, had invaded Utkal provinces during Mukunda Dev’s regime in 1568 and left behind a trail of demolished temples, shrines and idols.
After unleashing a reign of terror in Shreekshetra at Puri, he arrived at Jajpur — the nation’s oldest Shaktipeetha — to continue destroying Hindu shrines.
To save the idol of Lord Narayan Gosain from the invader, Madhupurgarh’s King Shaekayat Singh hid him in a water tank in Singhapur.
A few days later, the king had a dream in which the Lord Narayan Gosain asked him to take out the idol from the water and worship it. Since then, the idol is taken out of Singhapur pond for a three-day period and the festival is called Singhapur yatra.
“Every year Singhapur yatra is celebrated with much fanfare in our villages. People from over 100 nearby villages turn vegetarian during the three-day yatra. Non-vegetarian dishes are completely banned during the yatra,” said Antaryami Rout, secretary of the yatra committee.
No one instructs local people to become vegetarian during the yatra. They do so of their own volition, added Rout. Both the beginning and concluding days see a huge crowd participating in the procession carrying the idol and singing hymns.
“According to tradition, first the King of Madhupurgarh, Aparna Dhirsingh Bharadwaj comes and offers prayers to the lord on the bank of the pond as Narayan Gosain is the presiding deity of the king. After the king’s puja, thousands of devotees take part in the ceremony every year: the idol is taken out from underwater and worshipped in the nearby temple,” said Sukadev Pati, chief priest to the Madhupurgarh royal family.
Madhupurgarh’s current king, Aparna Dhirsingh Bharadwaj said: “This is a unique tradition seen only here.”