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http://drasiskchatterji.hubpages.com/hub/Kshirgram : where the Goddess resides in the depth of a pond
Kshirgram is a small village in the interior of the district of Barddhaman, West Bengal, India. The village has a very important temple dedicated to the Goddess Jogadya Uma, who is said to be worshiped by Ahiravana, the younger brother of the demon king Ravana of the Ramayana (the great Hindu epic describing the life of Lord Rama)-fame.
The story goes like this : Ahiravana kidnapped Lord Rama & His brother Lakshmana during the great war between Lord Rama & Ravana and took them to his kingdom in Patal, a place below the earth. Hanumana, the monkey-god rescued them by killing Ahiravana, & while returning carried away Goddess Jogadya Uma from the palace of Ahiravana. The Goddess came to reside here in this village Kshirgram.
The peculiarity of the Goddess is that She prefers to reside deep in the waters of a big pond nearby called Kshir Dighi. The touch-stone idol of the Goddess is kept submerged in water, & a temple, half-submerged , was constructed over the spot. The temple, dazzling white in colour, has been renovated recently. The idol of the Goddess is taken out of water for six days in a whole year, & public viewing is allowed only on two days (31stBaishakh , the first month of Bengali almanac & 4thJaistha, the 2nd Bengali month). On this occasion, a big fair is organized here every year.
The main temple of the Goddess is in the centre of the village. It is surrounded by a boundary wall with two beautiful entry-gates, one with an Ekbangla /Dochala structure (two slanting roofs connected at the top), & the other with a Jorbangla structure (two Ekbangla structures fused side by side). This is a specialty of this temple not seen elsewhere in West Bengal.
The temple proper has three components -- a flat roofed Naatmandir in front, a Jagmohan with a dome shaped roof & the Vimana or Garv Griha (sanctum sanctorum) which is a double storied Dalan-type structure with a single Ratna (turret) on the top. This combination of temple architecture (Double-storied Dalan with Ekratna top along with a dome shaped Jagmohan) cannot be seen anywhere in West Bengal.
Every temple of a Goddess who is some form of the original Goddess Shakti is accompanied by a temple of Lord Shiva, the divine consort of the Goddess, & Kshirgram is no exception. Here, the name of Lord Shiva is Kshirkhandak Shiva, & a small temple atop a little hillock nearby is His abode. The temple is a small Dalan-type structure with a long flight of stairs to reach it from the ground. Inside, there is the Shiva Lingam (the phallic shape of the Lord) made of stone, with a deep transverse cut on top, allegedly made by the slash of the sword of Kala Pahar, the staunch anti-Hindu Muslim general.
The villagers are very proud of their prized possessions the Goddess & Lord Shiva, & they follow many peculiar rituals in the month of Baishakh like not ploughing the field & not to carry an open umbrella inside the village, as I was told by a local Mr. Bimal Ghosh.
How to go
To reach Kshirgram one has to travel to the district town of Baddhaman, which is well connected to Kolkata by rail & road (about 100 km from Kolkata). From Barddhaman one has to take a bus to Kaichar (37 km from Barddhaman) & from Kaichar one can take either a local bus or a cycle rickshaw to reach Kshirgram (5 km from Kaichar). Roads are reasonably good & motorable.