Viraja Temple or Viraja Kshetra, Oddyana Peetha is one of the ancient Hindu temples located in the Jajpur district of Orissa, India. This present temple was built in 13th century. It is situated in the Jajpur township which is nearly 125 KM north from Bhubaneswar. The main idol is Devi Durga who is worshiped by the name Viraja. The idol is having two hands (dwibhuja),in one hand she pierces the chest of Mahishasura with a spear and in other hand she pulls the tail of the Mahishasura. The Durga idol is standing on Lion in one leg and other leg is on Mahishasura chest. The Mahishasura is depicted as a Buffalo, not as regular human demon.
The crown of Devi has symbol of Ganesha, Crescent moon and a Shivalinga. The temple covers a large area, and it has several Shiva linga and other deities. Jajpur is also known as Viraja Kshetra or Biraja Peetha. According to Skanda Purana, utkala khanda it washes all rajo guna of pilgrims. So called as Viraja or Biraja kshetra.
Viraja Temple In Tantra:
The Brahmayamala Tantra has a hymn "Aadya Stotra" dedicated to Goddess Shakti. In that hymn, it is stated that Vimala is the shakti in Purusottama Kshetra and Viraja is the shakti worshipped in Odra Desha, which is latter known as Orissa. It is believed that sati's navel also fell here as Tantra Chudamani says that the navel fell in Utkala which is called Viraja kshetra. Adi Shankara in his Ashtadasha shakti peetha stuti describes this peetha as Oddiyana Peetha and the goddess as Girija. Here is the verse from his Ashtadasha shakti peetham. As per many Tantra books, the Oddiyana Peetha is located in eastern India near Vaitarani river. The place signifies its name. Oddiyana is an ornament worn by women around navel, as the navel fell down here the area surrounding the peetha is called Oddyana Peetha, and the land is known as Odra Desha.
Rituals And Festivals:
Main ritual in this temple is Sharadiya Durga Puja which starts from Krishna Paksha Ashtami night which falls before Mahalaya and ends on Ashwin Shukla Paksha Navami. The total Puja continues for 16 days, which is called Shodasha dinatatmika Puja. The Rath Yatra of Devi's utsava murty is done during Mahashtami and Mahanavami. The Ratha (Chariot Festival) is named as Simhadhwaja. During the transition of lunar phase from Shukla Ashtami to Shukla Navami the special animal Sacrifice is performed which is called Bali Daanam. The day of Dussehra is celebrated as Aparajita Puja. Other festivals include Devi's own Nakshatra, Shravana which falls on Amavasya of Purnimanta month of Maagha, Prathamastami, Pana Sankranti, Raja Parva and Navanna. The daily worship to devi is done as depicted in Tantra and Agama. She is worshipped as Mahishasuramardini by Brahmins of Jajpur.
It is heard from Puranas that Gaya is having mouth of Gayasura (Shirogaya) & the navel is in Jajpur inside Biraja Temple. Whereas padagaya (legs of gayasura) is in Pithapuram of Andhra Pradesh. God Brahma did 10 Ashwamedha yajna here on the bank of Baitarani Or Vaitarani. It is called as Dakshina(south) Vedi of Brahma. Others being Gaya (east); Kurukshetra, (north); Pushkar, (west) & Prayag Allahbad, according to Vamana Purana. Many pilgrims gather here for Shraaddha during Mahalaya. A Holy dip commenses in Vaitarani river on the day of Chaitra krishna chaturdasi called as Varuni Snan Yoga. It becomes auspicious if the day is saturday and the star is Shatabhisha. The nearest rail head is Byasanagar or jajpur keonjhar road on chennai-howrah railway.