Dhakeshwari Temple

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Dhakeshwari Temple
ঢাকেশ্বরী জাতীয় মন্দির
Shiva temples inside Dhakeshwari Temple
Shiva temples inside Dhakeshwari Temple
Coordinates: 23°43′23″N 90°23′23″E / 23.72306°N 90.38972°E / 23.72306; 90.38972Coordinates: 23°43′23″N 90°23′23″E / 23.72306°N 90.38972°E / 23.72306; 90.38972
Name
Proper name: Dhakeshwari Jatiya Mandir
Bengali: ঢাকেশ্বরী জাতীয় মন্দির
Location
Country: Bangladesh
State/province: Dhaka Division
District: Dhaka District
Locale: Dhaka
Architecture and culture
Primary deity: Dhakeshwari
Architectural styles: Sena
History
Date built:
(Current structure)
12th century CE

Dhakeshwari National Temple (Bengali: ঢাকেশ্বরী জাতীয় মন্দির Ðhakeshshori Jatio Mondir) is a Hindu temple in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is state-owned, giving it the distinction of being Bangladesh's 'National Temple'. The name "Dhakeshwari" (ঢাকেশ্বরী Ðhakeshshori) means "Goddess of Dhaka". Since the destruction of Ramna Kali Mandir in 1971 by the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Dhakeshwari Temple has assumed status as the most important Hindu place of worship in Bangladesh.

History[edit]

1890 CE photograph of the four Shiva temples inside the main temple complex

The Dhakeshwari temple was built in the 12th century by Ballal Sen, a king of the Sena dynasty, and many say the city was named after this temple. The current architectural style of the temple cannot be dated to that period because of the numerous repairs, renovations and rebuilding which have taken place over time. It is considered an essential part of Dhaka's cultural heritage. Many researchers[who?] say that the temple is also one of the Shakti Peethas, where the jewel from the crown of the Goddess Sati had fallen. Although there is not enough historical context to establish this as a fact, researchers were directed to this site while trying to locate the particular Shakti Peetha. Since ages, the temple has been held in great importance. The original 800-year old statue was taken to Kumartuli, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. There remains the replica of original idol in Dhaka. The temple was further damaged during the Muslim mob attacks of 1989–90.

It is widely believed[according to whom?] that the Queen, wife of King Bijoy Sen went to Langolbond for bathing. While coming back she gave birth to a son, known to historians as Ballal Sen. After ascending to the throne, Ballal Sen built this temple to glorify his birthplace. Legends say that Ballal Sen once dreamt of the deity covered under the jungle. Ballal Sen uncovered the deity from there and built a temple, named for Dhakeswari. Whatever the legends describe, Hindu religious consider Dhakeswari to be the presiding deity of Dhaka, which is an incarnation or form of Goddess Durga the Adi Shakti . The idol of Durga is called Dhakeswari .

Structure[edit]

Exterior view[edit]

Main temple structure
Entrance to the main temple compound
Main temple structure from the west side

Within the premises of the Dhakeswari there are temples of two types of architecture. The ancient one is of the Poncharotna Goddess Durga’s which lost its actual look after the renovation work. Bradly Bird wrote this at the beginning of this century. The present temple is two hundred years old which was built by an agent of East India Company. Most probably he had renovated the temple. Other than this there are four Shib Temples. According to hearsay, in the 16th century King Mansing built these temples by laying four Shib Lingas there. But this information seems to be unreliable. The fusion of Bangla chowchala and shikor temple is notice in the architecture of Dhakeshawri. Ratan Lal Chakraborti in an article mentioned that “ the structure and architecture of it is like a Buddhist Pagoda”. He opined that it was probably a Boddist pagoda which was turned into a Hindu temple later. From this he assumed that the temple was probably built in 10th century.

How did Dhakeshari temple look like in 19th century? Ridoynath Majumder described about the temple. At that time the temple was covered by jungle and in its north the Urdu road went westward towards Pilkhana and at its south west was Mirpur road. At its south there was a wood and Urdu bazar was at the east.

Interior view[edit]

The Goddess statue at the Dhakeshwari Temple

The temple was panchoratno, at its front Natamandir and around it there is a row of rooms and a big pond and nahobottola gate through which elephant used to go. At its east there are tombs of some saints who used to pray or meditate at the temple. Outside the temple there are 5-6 pagoda with a shiblinga. The priest of Dhakeshawri temple used pray every day. The deity is doshvuja. It is believed that it is made of gold. At the left and right side of the deity there are some other murti. Like the ancient temples its inside is dark. To see the deity light is to be arranged. The temple is owned by many because it is bought by the new caretaker from the old caretakers. Jotindramohan bought it in 1901. Dhakeshawri is crowded but it is an abode of peace. The low sound of the tongue mixes with the evening light and tune of temple bell and make the peaceful environment a happy event.

Declaration as National Temple of Bangladesh[edit]

In 1996, Dhakeshwari Temple was renamed Dhakeshwari Jatiya Mandir (National Temple) reflecting its position as the center of Hindu culture and worship in Bangladesh. This was the culmination of a major campaign by Bangladeshi Hindu groups who had been demanding official recognition for the primary Hindu place of worship following the declaration of Islam as the state religion in 1988. As a result, the flag of Bangladesh is hoisted every morning outside the main temple premises, and it follows the National Flag Code rules such as rendering half-mast on nationally declared days of mourning.

As is the practice in other leading religious places of worship in Bangladesh, day-long prayers are common practice during important national holidays such as Independence Day, Language Martyrs' Day, Victory Day and birth and death anniversaries of former leaders such as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman.

Threats to temple security[edit]

The Dhakeshwari Temple was severely damaged during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, and over half of the temple's buildings were destroyed. The main worship hall was taken over by the Pakistan Army and used as an ammunitions storage area. Several of the temple custodians were tortured and killed by the Army though most, including the Head Priest, fled to their ancestral villages then to India and therefore escaped death.

A significant portion of the temple land has been lost due to the Vested Property Act and confiscation by the Bangladesh Government, and the current premises are considerably lower than the historic reach of the property. Muslim mobs have attacked the temple complex many times, with the last major attack taking place in December 1992, following the demolition of Babri Masjid in India.

Religious and socio-cultural activities[edit]

Durga puja celebrations in Dhakeshwari Temple

Dhakeshwari Temple is a hub of socio-cultural as well as religious activity. Each year, the largest celebration of Durga Puja (the most important event in the Bengali Hindu calendar) in Dhaka is held at the National Temple, and a stream of dignitaries (such as the Bangladeshi President, Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition, Members of Parliament and media celebrities) come to felicitate the Bangladeshi Hindu community from the temple premises. Several thousand worshippers and onlookers (including Muslims) stream through the premises where they are offered prasad (food - usually rice and lentils). A Bijaya Sammelani (cultural program following Durga Puja) takes place in the adjoining parade ground a few days after Durga Puja is complete, and is also a major cultural event in the Dhaka calendar, regularly attracting some of the top performers from the Dhaka music and film industry.

One of the most important events of the year is the Janmashthami procession which starts from Dhakeshwari temple and then proceeds through the streets of Old Dhaka; this occurs on the day of Lord Krishna's birthday, which is also a national holiday in Bangladesh and second only to Durga Puja in importance in the Bengali Hindu calendar. The procession dates back to 1902 but was stopped in 1948 following the establishment of Pakistan and subsequent attacks by Muslim mobs in Dhaka. The procession was resumed in 1989.

Concerts and charity drives (such as flood relief) are also a regular fixture within the temple throughout the year. Each year, Dhakeshwari Temple hosts major blood drives and inoculation programs which are open to all residents of Dhaka city.

At the old time festivals happened on the month of Chaitra in temple complex of Dhakeswari. This place was crowded by various colored shops. Peoples-virtuous comes to visit the temple to gather religious merit and get back to their home. Millions of Hindu religious peoples taking bath at Langolbondon the month of choitra on sukla ostomi time to rid of their sins. People comes to dhakeswari temple by on foot from different roads to be blessed by the deity Durga like a row of ants. It was the best moment of their whole year. With great hope they come out from their home and it’s reflected on their faces, to getting rid of their sins they worship to the Deity with exclusive devotion by bowing their head to mediation of Bhagaban. They forget about everything hunger, sleep, restless everything, they just believe that they will be blessed and they step up for the temple. All those peoples divided into small groups, each groups has ten to twenty. Every one of those group members are women, only one man is there to taking care of them who is the elders of the village. They have comes from very long distance by forming groups. Old peoples, skinny peoples and the oldest are also gathered to this group. Young people from the nearest city to the temple volunteering for the people come from long distance to be blessed by the Deity. With a great concentration, eagerness to the worship of the Deity and often bowing by shouting “Oom Dhaka eswari”.

In present days, each year, the largest celebration of Durga puja(the most important event in the Bengali Hindu calendar) in Dhaka is held at the National Temple, and a stream of dignitaries come to felicitate the Bangladeshi Hindu community from the temple premises. Several thousand worshippers and onlookers (including Muslims) stream through the premises where they are offered prasad(food - usually rice and lentils). A Bijaya Sammelani (cultural program following Durga Puja) takes place in the adjoining parade ground a few days after Durga Puja is complete, and is also a major cultural event in the Dhaka calendar.

Present condition[edit]

These are not seen any more at Dhakeswari. It was severely damaged during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, and over half of the temple's buildings were destroyed. The main worship hall was taken over by the Pakistan Army and used as an ammunitions storage area. Several of the temple custodians were tortured and killed by the Army though most, including the Head Priest, fled to their ancestral villages and to India and therefore escaped death. After that everything was destroyed of Dhakeswari temple at the time of riot on rule of Ershad president of Bangladesh at 1990 except the outer slough.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]


External links[edit]