GUWAHATI, March 1 - Steeped in history and heritage and a favourite with devotees from across eastern India, Dirgheswari Devalaya housing Goddess Kali and established in the later part of the 18th century by Ahom King Swargadeo Rudra Singha, has now been left to administrative negligence because of scant attention by the State government.
This complaint was made by the chief priest of the temple, Sachindranath Bhattacharya at a function held at the Guwahati Press Club here on Saturday to mark the release of a book Aradhya Devi Mangala Kali written by Dr Runu Bhattacharya, retired principal of Pub Kamrup College.
Presiding over the meeting, Bhattacharya said that the area where the temple is situated at North Guwahati was once a fully forested area frequented by royal Bengal tigers. �Once a thriving shrine, it has now fallen into bad days because of the financial hardships of its caretakers,� he added. Bhattacharya narrated the earlier glory and the present-day attraction of the Mangala Kali temple stemming from its spiritual richness and hallowed by its association with a great sage Rishi Markandeya in the days of the epics.
He added that earlier during the British days and later on also the temple used to receive an annual financial grant of several thousand rupees and because of the sound financial state of the temple, five hundred people were served bhoga daily, but the temple management is now facing difficulty in entertaining guests due to fund crunch.
Releasing the book, senior journalist DN Chakravartty dwelt at length on the origin of the worship of the Mother Goddess in Assam even before the epic days when the pre-Aryan people comprising the Indo-Mongoloids and Indo-Tibetans and the Alpines introduced the system of worship of the Goddess and a large number of temples were set up in ancient Assam with Kamakhya in central Assam, Chandi Mandir in west Assam and Tamreswari Mandir in eastern Assam.
He said that pre-Aryan people in Assam including the Chutiyas, Morans, Borahis, Bodos and the Kalitas were the patrons of the worship of the Goddess. He added that during the Ahom days, King Gadadhar Singha first introduced the Durga Puja worship which was followed in a gorgeous manner by his son King Rudra Singha.
Chakravartty referred to the tourism potential of the Dirgheswari Temple and thanked the writer for publishing a book giving the full history and spiritual significance of the shrine.
Educationist and writer Dr Dayananda Pathak, while speaking at the meeting, lauded the writer for her painstaking efforts in gathering substantial information about the rich spiritual heritage of Assam in general and about the antiquity of the temple in particular.
Baneswar Khound, general secretary, Assam Senior Citizens� Association (ASCA), explained the purpose of the meeting, stressing the need for proper attention by the administration towards proper maintenance of the shrine which has great tourism potential.
The writer Dr Bhattacharya in her welcome speech said that with her parental association with the locality in which the temple is situated, she grew up as a child in close vicinity of the historic shrine which needs sympathetic attention of the authorities concerned.