Friday, June 08, 2007

A goddess for men. And non-men.

If you peer into the little sanctum of the Mumbadevi Temple, you'll see her - the Goddess Mumba - in all her glory. She is orange in the glow of the shendur. Her mango-shaped nosering, so typical of this region, glistens in the lamplight. There are offerings of flowers and fruits, the air is fragrant with incense. Crowds throng the little temple, pressing for a glimpse of her. On festival days, you can barely set foot inside.

Clearly, the Goddess cult is alive and kicking in Bhuleshwar.


Mumba is of course, only one manifestation of the Goddess. There are many others; you can see them carved on panels in the Mumbadevi temple.

There's Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, with her customary swan. There's Lakshmi - Goddess of Wealth, on a lotus. There's Durga, the warrior Goddess, riding her tiger. There's dark angry Kali, the fearsome Goddess of Destruction.

But alongside these familiar Goddesses, I saw something I had never seen before - a Goddess on a Rooster.

I pointed it out to my friend Sandhya. She didn't know this Goddess either, so she asked the priest. 'This is Bahuchar Maa', said the priest. Neither of us had heard of Bahuchar Maa, so I came back home and looked her up.

Bahuchar Maa, apparently, is a very popular goddess in Gujarat, with a large temple in Mehsana. Interestingly, the website of the temple says the Goddess "gives virility to men". In addition, I found that Bahuchar Maa is also the Goddess of the hijras, the eunuchs/transsexuals of India.

Obviously, this goddess has something to do with sexuality, so I hunted around for more information, and I found a couple of curious folk tales.

Here's one of them: There was, once upon a time, a man who tried to molest Bahuchar Maa (Go figure. Who would want to mess with a lady carrying a sword and a trident?). Anyway, this man was cursed with impotency. So he gave up his masculinity, dressed in women's clothes and worshipped her. He was finally forgiven and cured of his impotence.

So - Bahuchar Maa is a fertility goddess, and both men and women seek her blessings if they don't have children. Naturally, the hijras, who dress in women's clothing, are dear to her. In fact, in the temple in Mehsana, there is an annual garba dance by the Deviputras, the hijras. I wonder if the Hijras dance in prayer in Mumbai as well...do any of you know?

The other story around this Goddess is that she was once a princess who castrated her husband, because he dressed in women's clothes and refused the pleasures of her bridal bed. Ouch.

And here's a third interesting story - there's a guy from London called Steve Cooper, who now lives in the Bahuchar Maa temple, wears sarees, and offers blessings to anyone who wants it. I'm not surprised. This is India. There's a goddess for everything. And everyone.

14 comments:

CanisLupus said...

Interesting! Isn't (wasn't) the Rooster a symbol of fertility in many cultures ?

Here's a garba song/ditty about BM

Bahuchar maa naa deraa paachal kukde kuk bole(2)
he kukdaa taari(2), boli mane mithi mithi laage

if you understand Gujarati, its difficult to miss the double entendre.

Anonymous said...

hijra's only use the temple in becharaji to make money, they charge 100 rupee a blessing, when there's a shortage of money then hijra's are nowhere to be seen. Infact the hijra's make up a very small proportion of the lakhs of devotees that visit the bahucharaji temple every poonam, less than 1%. Bahucharaji is a child goddess, it is stupid to think that a child would marry an non castrated hijra, let alone commit a violent and anti hindu act of cutting a man's penis off, ridiculous. I have personally witness the hijra using her name to extort money from people.

Anonymous said...

I actually visited this Goddess' temple in Gujarat. Most of the hijiras there are ascetics -- they will take your money, but are less girly and made-up than some of the other hijiras. When I was there, there was a fenced off area in the back where families had paid for statues (boys and girls) with the names of the children the goddess had granted them. After visiting the temple, both my friend and I were pregnant within a year, but that is another story...

The way I understood it, there was once a lake at the site of the temple and when animals and humans entered it, their sex changed. I believe that came about as a result of some other God having his penis cut off and swung around and a drop of semen formed this special lake.

Deepa Krishnan said...

Hmm. That might be Siva. There's a story in the Siva Purana.

ant said...

hey guys!! bahuchar ma is actualy my kuldevi (family goddess). the story is actually about my great great great etc grandfather..lool...yh it is!! wt happened was that his dad (the solanki king of gujrat) never had a son. therefore, the mother dressed up the youngest daughter as a boy and soon she got married to a princess! Tejpal solanki (the girl) was unhappy as he was betraying the princess! After having problems with her in-laws, tejpal runs away! she then sees a bitch get turned into a dog wen it goes for a bath in a lake! Then she gets happy and thinks that this is bahuchar ma's doings (i.e our kuldevi). Then she experiments wiv the female horse that she was riding and it worked! Finally, she tried it out herself and once she came out of the water, she had turned into a man! at the same time tejpals father in law had a dream in which bahuchar ma told him to go and accept tejpal as she has turned into a man! then, they alll meet and there is a happy ending! lool! so thanks to bahuchar ma, the solankis could carry on reigning and i am here!! lool :D its got nothing to do with Shiva and the cockeril symbolises innocence and the solankis. it was on her website! tc guys! if you want more info u can email me on a_k3g@hotmail.com :D

ant said...

hey guys! bahuchar ma is my kuldevi (family goddess). the story about the lake is actually about my great great great great great etc grandfather! lol,, yh it is!! The solanki king of gujrat never had any sons. therefore, the queen dressed up their youngest daughter as a boy and tricked everyone including the king! this little girl was called tejpal! when tejpal grew up, she got married to a princess! tejpal could not cope with the betrayal and so she told the princess the truth! after having problems, tejpal ran away and came to rest at a lake! She then saw a bitch having a bath in the lake, however the bitch turned into a dog when it came out! tejpal knew this was bahuchar mas work! she then did and experiment with her female horse that she was riding! this horse then turned into a male horse! tejpal got really happy and then she prayed to bahuchar ma (our kuldevi) and she dunk herself in the lake! she then came out of the lake as a man! at the same time, bahuchar ma visited tejpals father-in-law in his dream and told him to go to the lake and collect tejpal as she is now a man! then they all met and lived happily! so, thanks to bahuchar ma the solankis carried on reigning and i am here :D this has got nothing to do with shiva at all! it is all bahuchar mas work! the cockerel symbolises innocence and also has a connection wiv us solankis! if you guys have any questions about bahuchar ma, jus email me on a_k3g@hotmail.com or ad me on msn! tc guys! jai bahuchara ma!!

Anonymous said...

riding a rooster...hmmm its a weird co-incidence but u think the slang COCK might have origins related this virility thing??!!

Deepa Krishnan said...

Er, I don't think so, anon :)

Dinesharan Naidu @ Sharan said...

Ok dears, let me clear the air up a little bit about Devi Bahuchara Mata. I was born dual gendered, and have now transformed totally into a female. I line in Malaysia and I'm a flim actress as well as a full time staff of Air Asia in Malaysia. I knew this patron goddess since 1 year ago. Now i'm going to become a nun (kanya / kannigashtri) by becoming Her daughter. I will do services for her and for those who seek her blessings. I will not disagree with the fact some transgendr women take advantage of this and do wrong in the goddess' name. Who doesn't? Opportunists do this regardless of gender issues. After goddess sati was burnt to ashes, Shiva was told by Jeganmatha that his consort Parvathy will be known as Uma Devi, and Uma will take 9 forms of Devistalam- heavenly forms avatarred from Aathi Parasakthi herself, and another 9 forms on earth. The significance is shown with the number of hands Sri Mahishasura Mardhini has- 18 hands carrying weapons bestowed by the Celestial Beings and theThirumurhis Vishnu, Bhrama and Shiva.
Sri Bahuchara Ma is the 8th earthly incarnation of goddess Durga, and is to be the goddess of firtility. Story of she castrating her husband is false. The real story was:
Once a king and queen prayed to her and sake her blessings as the king was getting old and there wasn't a son to carry on the throne. The king and queen was blessed with a son and they named him Jetho. Prince Jetho found that he was impotent. The king was shocked at this news and was filled with worry again. One night, Bahuchara Ma came in the prince's dream and told him to go to the forest and meditate for 8 days and 8 nights, and on the 9th morning, as soon as a rooster crows, he should take a shaving knife and self castrate himself. The prince did it and as he bled, he was in ecstasy. The king who was looking for him finally found the prince unconscious and took him back to the palace. The queen was crying looking at her unconscious son. Suddenly the prince revived and he didn't feel pain, he told his parents the whole story and as he was about done, a guest arrived. The king from another kingdom had come with his wife and son. The king said that his son had committed a crime by impregnating a pheasant woman and in fear, the woman had committed suicide. Since then for 2 years no one would give their daughter's hand to the prince. The king had begged for forgiveness and the son repent, sought advise from Bahuchara Ma. She came in the king's dream one night and told him to head to this kingdom and there will be a prince who would change into a princess and She told the king to get his son married to Jetho. This will save both kingdoms. This is how the story of self castrating got involved with Bahuchara Ma. Bahuchara Ma's rooster is known as the Kurkut, a symbol of innocence. In Hinduism, every deity has a vehicle of an animal which symbolizes their similarity in character and function. Bahuchara Ma is one of the Devi forms of Sri Chakra, hence in south India, she is known as Bala Thiripurasundari, and in North, Bala Bahuchara Mata. Bala signifies that she is a young girl. She is not married and is a Kanys, just as Devi Kanya Kumari. She adores and protects the Transsexuals, and gives them mystical powers: Whatever they say, no matter a blessing or a curse, will happen accordingly. But this applies to ONLY the holly transsexuals who serve her whole heartedly. Not cross dressers and certainly not Trans women who still sustain manly behavior.

Devi Bahuchara is said to be the one who selects the "ONE" sperm from the millions to be infused with the ovum to form the zigot that Bhrama creates life with.

Jai Bahuhara Ma

Dinesharan Naidu @ Sharan said...

The story that ant said about the Solanki king is also true. That was one of Bahuchara Ma's tales as well.

abrmorla said...

Hello can anyone tell me where the temple in Mumbai is? pls msg on 0-98713 07363 Anand. thanks!

Brandy Mcneill said...

Jai bahuchara mataji

Brandy Mcneill said...

I am wish to give puja to Bahuchara ma , but I dnt know how to do a simple worship to gain her attention, do yu know any ways I can give her offering that she will def. Except????

Mangaldeep said...

Bahuchara mata is also known as Bedhraj mata is worshiped by either women who are seeking for a baby, man who wants to keep impotency at bay or transgender community.She is seated on a rooster, which symbolises innocence.
To get more details about mantras,bhajans, shlokas and pujas,
download mangaldeep app and get all benefits, http://goo.gl/bQBnUe