Vishalakshi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Vishalakshi who is the main deity of this temple. Vishalakshi is derived from Sanskrita words; Vishal meaning wide and akshi meaning eyes and given to describe one who has wide eyes. But here the name is proper noun and referred to Goddess Vishalakshi. Vishalakshi is one of the many incarnations of the Goddess Parvati, the better half of Lord Shiva. Vishalakshi temple is also known as Vishalakshi Gauri Temple. The temple is located on the Meer Ghat of the River Ganges. This temple is considered to be one of the Shakti Pithas established throughout India. Shakti Pitha translates to Post of Power and here it refers to the authority of the Divine Goddess of Power.
There are six temples said to be the centers of Sashtanga Yoga translates to six fold Yoga. These centers are Kashi Vishwanath Temple
(Dedicated to Lord Shiva), Kaal Bhairava Temple (dedicated to Lord Kaal Bhairava), River Ganges, Dhudiraj Temple(dedicated to Lord Ganesha), Dandapani Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva) and Vishalakshi Temple (dedicated to Goddess Vishalakshi).
Religious Significance of the Vishalakshi Temple :
It is said that Goddess blesses those with prosperity and success who worship her. Devotees take bath in holy River Ganges and offer prayers to the Goddess. World is full of desires so are the visitors to the temples. People ask for sons, children grooms, wealth and good fortunes.
Festivals celebrated at the temples ::
The most celebrated festival at the temple is Maha navaratri. This festival literally means a festival of nine days. The festival is dedicated to Nav Durgas, the nine forms of Goddess Durga. These nine forms are; Shialaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandmata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri. These nine forms individually have several legends around it. The nine days rich ritual is full of all hues and you can enjoy the vivid Indian traditions. Devotees come here to light lamps which burn all 24*9 hours. People chant hymns, meditate and offer gold and silver to the temple.
History of the traditional beginnings :
It is said that Vyasa was born, composed his epic Mahabharata and compiled Vedas on the same day of Guru Poornima hence this day is celebrated as the festival in memory of sage. Sage Vyasa had Dhritarashtra and Panduas his sons, who later became fathers of Great Kauravas and Pandawas mentioned in epic Mahabharata. His third son was from a Dasi, meaning Maid known as Vidurawho is recalled as a great diplomat in Indian Traditions. His two sons Dhritarashtra and Pandu were adopted by a King Vichitravirya. Sage Vyasa is also called Dwaipayan meaning, born on island because he was born on Yamuna River island. SageVyasais also known as Krishna, meaning Black in Sanskrita because of his dark complexion. There is also a Temple dedicated to Sage Vyasa in Jalaun District of Uttar Pradesh in India because of his connection to this place. It is said that Pandawas in exile visited Sage Vyasa to get his advice on matters of court and administration to Vedagiri Hills and it is here that some remains of Ashram still remains.
HartalikaTij one of the most loved fasting festivals is celebrated in the month of August to worship Goddess. On this day, women fast. Whole day they do not drink even a single drop of water and pray for long life of their husbands. Those unmarried, pray for suitable grooms. Grooms and husbands are a thing of prayers as India is staunch patriarchal society. An ordinary woman can’t even imagine their life without a male escort here in this country, where Feminine power is worshipped. What a farce!!!
Hindu Religious Faith is broadly categorized in three parts;
- Vaishnava ( who worship Lord Vishnu and his 1000 incarnations)
- Shaiva (who worship Lord Shiva and his incarnations)
- Shakt (who worship Goddess Durga and her forms)
In Hindu mythology all the forms of goddesses are broadly believed to be the forms of power. Power here does not represent physical power but it is divine and spiritual power; the power of generation and destructions, the power of preservation and nurture.
In Puranic traditions it is believed that Varanasi City will exist even after the apocalypse or Pralaya. The goddesses also represent the tradition of female worship as she is the creator of the earth. The power here refers to the same feminine power of creation. In present age where India is blamed of not being women empowerment friendly nation, our old traditions are still a reminder of the respect given to women when India was among one of glorious civilizations of the world. But the worshipping feminine power is merely a symbolic ritual. It has nothing to do with matriarchy in present context. It should not be misconstrued that the country where female power is worshipped has really female empowered. But the traditions should be an inspiration for future.
Varanasi is also famous for the essential oil and tea masala that is used for the aroma therapy and Vishwnath gali/ Vishwnath lane market is the hub of that place where you can find different type of oil.
- Jasmin oil,
- Flower of paradise
- Lotus flower
- White Musk
- Black Musk
- Rose oil
- Sandele oil