Sakhigopala Temple formally known as Satyabadi Gopinatha Temple is a medieval temple dedicated to Lord Gopinatha located in the town of Sakhigopala on the Puri Bhubaneshwar highway in Odisha, India. The temple is built in the Kalinga style of temple architecture.
It is said that a poor young man of the village, later named it as Sakhigopala, fell in love with the daughter of the village headman. However, being of a higher economic status, the headman opposed marriage between this young man and his daughter. The villagers, including the headman and the young man, went on a pilgrimage to Kashi. The village headman fell ill and was abandoned by fellow villagers. The young man tended to him so well that he soon got well and, in gratitude, promised his daughter in marriage to the young man. As soon as they returned to the village, the headman went back on his promise, asking the young man to produce a witness in support of his claim.
Lord Gopala, impressed by the young man's devotion, agreed to come and bear witness to the promise on one condition: that the young man lead the way and he would follow, but the young man must never look back. He led the way to the village, passing a mound of sand. As they passed, the man could not hear the Lord's footsteps and turned back. Immediately the Lord turned into a statue of stone rooted to the spot. The villagers were still so impressed that God himself came to back the young man's claim that the youngsters were married off; they were later appointed as the first priests of the temple built in Lord Gopala's honour who came to bear witness (known in Sanskrit as Sakshi).
Deity's idol made by Vajra (grandson of Krishna)
King Vajra (the grandson of Lord Krishna) had 16 idols of Krishna and other gods carved from a rare, imperishable stone called Braja and built temples to house these idols in and around Mathura so as to feel the presence of Lord Krishna. The four presiding idols of Braja Mandala are Sri Harideva of Govardhan, Sri Keshava Deva of Mathura, Sri Baladeva of Baladeo, and Govindaji of Vrindavan. There are two Naths—Sri Nathji, who was originally at Govardhan and is now in Nathdwar, Rajasthan, and Sri Gopinath, who is now in Jaipur. The two Gopals are Sri Madana Mohana, who is now housed at Karoli Rajasthan, and Sakshi Gopala, who is now moved to the town of Sakhi Gopal, Odisha, near Puri.
The temple is famous for celebrating the annual Amla Navami Festival (Amla = gooseberry; Navami = ninth day in a lunar cycle). The festival is associated with the practice of touching Radha's feet (Radha was the legendary lover of Lord Krishna). Legend has it that the temple was originally without a statue of Radha. But when a girl named Lakhmi claimed to be the incarnation of Radha, and it is believed that Lord Krishna (here as Gopala) should not be without his true love Radha, a statue from northern India was installed here. The statue had originally Ghagra and Choli adorned but when it was clad on a traditional saree of Odisha, the feet of the statue was visible and the priests took it for a holy sign. From that day Amla Navami is celebrated and Hindu pilgrims are allowed inside the temple to touch the goddess's feet. Hundreds of thousands of devotees throng the temple on this holy occasion
Daily food offerings
The food offerings at Sakhigopala temple are made of wheat instead of rice. This is one of exceptional offerings among the worshipping processes of Vishnu temples all over the world, which is called prasada.
Bollywood Filmstar controversy
In 2009 while shooting for a Hindi movie on the premises of the temple, Shilpa Shetty a bollywood actor was alleged to have disrespected the temple. A complaint was filed where it was reported that she entered the temple with her shoes on which goes against established Hindu practice.
- "Lakhs witness 'Radha pada' at Sakhigopal". The New Indian Express. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
- "Shilpa Shetty temple controversy not serious: Police". bollywood com. IANS. Retrieved 13 November 2016.