Bilai Mata Mandir: Bilai Mata Mandir, also known as Vindhyavasini Mandir, located in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. is devoted to. It is an ancient temple, which is considered to be one of the five Shaktipeeths of the state. The carvings on the walls of the temple reflect the architecture of earlier times. According to the legend, the idol of Maa Vindhyavasini emerged from the ground which is slowly still rising.
Situated two kilometers away from the new bus stand of Bilai Mata Temple, Dhamtari, it is called Swayambhu Vindhyavasini Mata. Local people believe that the idol located in the temple has come out of the earth, which is still continuously coming upwards.
Only one ghee flame is lit in Bilai Mata temple. During Navratri, two Jyotas are lit in the sanctum sanctorum. The fame of the temple has spread far and wide, people from other countries also reach here to light the flame.
There is always a crowd of devotees in the court of Mata, but during Navratri lakhs of devotees visit the temple to seek the blessings of the mother. It is believed that any wish made with a sincere heart is definitely fulfilled by the mother. Earlier 108 goats were sacrificed
Years ago, 108 goats were sacrificed in this temple during Navratri. The sacrifice of goats was started from the reign of King Narhar Dev. The practice was abolished around 1938, since then raw pumpkin is offered as a sacrifice.
According to the legends prevalent among the local people, there used to be a dense forest in the ancient times where the temple of the goddess is today. King Mandalik once went to this forest with his soldiers. The horses stopped as soon as they came to this place. Due to this the king had to return. The same incident happened on the second day also. The horses came and stopped at the same place, then the king ordered the soldiers to go further into the forest and look. When the soldiers searched in the forest, they saw wild cats sitting around a stone.
When the king was informed about this, the king ordered the cats to get away and get that stone. The shiny and attractive stone was submerged in the ground. Despite several attempts, the stone did not come out. During this time the water stream started coming out of that place. The excavation was stopped for the second day. On the same night, Mother Goddess came in the dream of the king and said – Do not remove the stone from that place and start worshiping, which will be beneficial for the people.
After the order received from the mother in the dream, the king got the goddess established by constructing a platform at that place. Later it was given the form of a temple. People believe that the stone did not come up high in the temple. After consecration, the idol of the goddess herself rose.
Another story based on the appearance of Vindhyavasini Devi in the public mind is as follows. Once some shepherds of the city went to the south to cut grass and entered the bush where Vindhyavasini Devi was unknowingly residing.
The shepherds saw that two cats sitting on either side of a black stone were growling after hearing him. The shearers somehow managed to drive away those cats by showing their laughs. After that, by rubbing on that stone, those people sharpened their laughs. Then they started cutting the grass. In a short time, he cut enough grass. The surprising thing was that the edge of his laugh remained the same. The shearers were unable to know this secret. They returned home. On that day he got a higher price from the sale of hay than in the previous days.
During the night, the shearers realized in their dreams that the one whom they had sharpened their laughter considering as a minor stone was Vindhyavasini Devi. In the morning, they narrated this dream story to the king and prominent citizens. After this, with the concerted efforts of everyone, that place became the center of worship.
The third story regarding the appearance of the goddess is as follows that long ago tribal castes used to reside here. In which there was a caste called Baiga. They made a living by catching and selling birds.
Once some boys, with the need to catch a bird, entered the same bush where two cats were growling sitting side by side on a black colored stone. The boy did not know why, being overwhelmed with emotion, he said that O Bilai Mata, if today we are able to catch more birds by your grace, then we will sacrifice one of us in your name. The boys actually caught more birds that day by the grace of the Goddess.
When the king heard this, he was no less surprised. He had great reverence for the Goddess and by building a platform around her, he paved the way for worshiping the Goddess.
Somewhere folk belief considers these three events to happen in a single day. The incident must have happened before the grasshoppers cut the grass. A miracle must have happened to the boys who caught the birds after noon. Only then, due to their combined insistence and efforts, the happy establishment of the Goddess was done without delay.
The story behind the name Bilai Mata
There is also an interesting story behind this temple being called Bilai Mata Mandir. When the king’s soldiers saw this idol for the first time, then black cats were seen around it, apart from these the idol was also black, so people started calling it Bilai Mata which is still in vogue.