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Odisha: Know More About ‘Alekh Mahima’ Devotees As The Unique ‘Joranda Mela’ Begins


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18 February 2019

Himansu Mohapatra


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Dhenkanal: Followers of the Mahima cult wait for the annual three-day fair where thousands of devotees congregate at the Samadhi peetha of Mahima Goswami, the founder of Mahima cult at Joranda, a place in Dhenkanal district of Odisha. As the fair began today, know more about this cult:

Joranda is the religious headquarters of 'Mahima Dharma', which reverberates the message of love and universal brotherhood of Mahima Gosain. More and more people across the country and the globe are drawn to the cult which believes in simple living, love and compassion for the living beings and communal worship for world peace. It does not accept the authority of the Vedas and call it “Nirveda”.

The followers of Mahima Cult, saints, lead a life of poverty, celibacy, piety and constant movement. Like Buddhist monks, they don’t constitute a priestly class and don’t control over the lay devotees. They don’t worship any idol; instead the supreme Lord of the indescribable grace (Alekha) is worshipped. They are forbidden to adultery and violence, and consumption of any intoxicants and meat. They leave their beds at 4 AM and perform saran/darshan before sunrise. It is an act of complete surrender of self to Mahima Prabhu. This is repeated 3 times a day including noon and evening before sunset. They wander everyday because they are not allowed to sleep in the same place on two consecutive nights, nor take meal twice from same house in any day. They are a tiny community of monks, wearing only a small saffron coloured cloth to cover their loins and knotting their hairs.

Thousands of sadhus, sanyasins and devotees of both the sects such as the Kaupinidahri (wearing loin clothes) and the Bakaldhari (wearing the bark of tree) reach Joranda on the auspicious occasion of Magha Mela to offer their prayer for world peace. The devotees pour tonnes of pure ghee on the sacred fire chanting “Brahma Alekh” or “Mahima Alekh”. The Fair reflects the ideals of Mahima Gosain who envisioned a classless society free from exploitation of the weak and poor by the feudal ruling chiefs and the landed gentry. His efforts also aimed at opposing the idea of large-scale conversion of Hindus to Christianity during the British rule in India. Mahima Gosain ignited the ‘Akhanda dhuni’ (uninterrupted fire) on Magha Purnami for the welfare of universe and since then the ‘Akhanda dhuni’ is burning without any interruption.

After the death of Mahima Gosain in 1876, his disciples endowed the Mahima Gadi Mandir, the open temple (the temple with a void at the top), on his grave yard with the symbol of a serpent on the top. It is also called the 'Shunya Mandir' (temple of void) as no idols are worshipped. Meanwhile, the devotees have erected Ekoisihatia Mandir, Ghanta Mandir and Dhuni Mandir in the holy shrine. The atmosphere at the Joranda Mela reverbs with the sound of ‘Alekh Brahma’ by devotees in rhythmic tone staunchly believing that these devotion will refine our earth and will provide the people with all their basic needs that are required for in their daily lives.

A woman devotee puts it simply, “Irrespective of caste, creed and religion and with no sense of untouchability, all culminate together for the fair. A strong bond of universal brotherhood is created and noticed here. The most important thing here is ‘equality’.”

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Raghu Das, Baba Mahima Sadhu

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Devotee