Dhakeshwari Temple

Dhakeshwari Temple
Dhakeshwari Temple

The Dhakeshwari Temple, the National Temple of Bangladesh and one of 51 Shakti Peethas, is the largest Hindu temple in the country. The gem from Sati’s crown was believed to have fallen here; this venerated site is an integral part of Bangladeshi cultural heritage. Hindus revere Devi Durga as their presiding deity at Dhaka – known colloquially as Devi Dhakeshwari – whom they celebrate with rituals and offerings at her namesake temple: The celebrated sanctuary dedicated to Adi Shakti (or Divine Mother).

In the 12th century, Ballal Sen of the renowned Sena Dynasty constructed the Dhakeshwari Temple. However, its architecture has been altered over time due to extensive restorations and reconstructions. Sadly, a vast area of land belonging to this temple was taken away by Bangladesh government through an enactment called Vested Property Act (formerly known as Enemy Property Act before 1971). This act allows state authorities to confiscate properties from anyone deemed an enemy of the nation. In 1974, the act was renamed the Vested Property Act. The act deprives a Bangladeshi citizen of property simply by the declaration of that person as an enemy of the state.

In 1988, Islam was declared the official religion of Bangladesh, prompting Hindu groups to advocate for recognition of their primary place of worship. Four years later in 1996, a response came in the form of renaming Dhakeshwari Temple to Dhakeshwari Jatiya Mandir (Dhakeshwari National Temple), effectively granting Hindus an essential landmark that honors and celebrates their faith.

Annually, the sacred celebration of Durga Puja is held at Dhakeshwari Temple in Dhaka. And after a few days festivities, the Vijaya Sammilani processional commences on the parade ground located near to this Hindu temple.

An interesting fact that is unknown to many people is that the Durga idol present in the Dhakeshwari Temple today is actually a replica of its original. During the partition, this 800-year-old icon was taken from Dhaka and transported with millions of other refugees to Kumartuli, Kolkata. It first resided at Harachandra Mallik Street in Debendranath Chowdhury’s house before being placed into its own temple by 1950 -named after it home city as ‘Dhakeshwari Mata Temple’. The 1.5ft tall golden figure represents Katyayani Mahishasura Mardini ‘Durga’, an embodiment of divine power and gracefulness!

Durga Puja is a grandiose celebration in West Bengal, however it takes on an entirely different form at the Dhakeshwari Mata Temple in Kolkata. Instead of following traditional Bengali customs, Navratri rituals are honored to pay tribute to Devi by offering strictly vegetarian bhog prasad. For added reverence, twelve earthen lamps are lit up along the mangal ghat as part of this sacred festival!

By the locals, this little-known temple is thought to be an especially holy and spiritually enlightened place. Even though Adi Devi of Bangladesh was forced out of her home and joined the legions in becoming a refugee, she has discovered an accepting home in Kolkata’s Kumartuli area; where she’s embraced with adoration and venerated each day.

The Sacred Temple is conveniently situated just 350 meters away from the Dhakeshwari Bus Stop, 6 kilometers outside of Sayedabad and Kamalapur Railway Stations respectively, and 18 km eastward from the center of Dhaka Airport. As a further guide to its location in Old Dhaka, it stands close behind Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s campus at Orphanage Road bordering Bakshi Bazar district.

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