The Flight of Gods 8. Kamakshi Temple, Shiroda, Goa

The Flight of Gods 
by Mohan Pai

Shri Kamakshi Temple

Away from the main concentration of temples, to the south of Ponda taluk in Shiroda is located the temple of Shri Kamakshi. She is a ‘migrant’ deity from Raia. Before the take-over of Salcete by the Jesuits, the temple at Raia was held in high esteem in the area. The idol was moved to Shiroda sometime between 1564 and 1568 AD.

At the time of the destruction of the temple in Raia by the Captain of Rachol, Diogo Rodrigues, it was a potter of the village who smuggled the idol of the deity across the river to safety. An event still acknowledged at Shiroda by a potter from Raia having the hereditary right to light the first lamp at the Kamakshi festival in Shiroda.

The potters of Raia also have the right to supply the clay lamps for the festival. The Linga of Shri Rayeshwar, the principal affiliate deity and the image of Shri Lakshminarayana also came from other temples in Raia.

Sahyadri Khand furnishes the description of the goddess Kamakshi of Goa. According to Kamakshi Mahatmya, the demon Mahishasura swallowed a Brahmin boy named Gunakar,the son of Agnimukha, while he was sent to
 collect the grass for the ritual puja. Though Agnimukha approached Hara and Hari, they advised him to approach Shri Kamakshi. Shri Kamakshi came to his aid and after a fierce battle killed Mahishasura. On Agnimukh’s plea the Goddeess took permanent abode in Raia.

There is another legend according to which a devotee of Ramnath from Lotulim went on a pilgrimage to Assam. He had a vision and found the idol of Kamakshi in a river there which he brought with him to Goa.

He had wrapped the idol in a piece of cloth and according to the belief the idol was supposed to be rested
on the ground only for final installation. On his return he first goes to his daughter’s house in Raia. He hangs the cloth bundle with the idol on a peg on the wall and goes for his bath with strict instructions to his daughter not to touch the parcel.

 The daughter could not contain her curiosity and brings down the heavy parcel and keeps it on the ground and opens it only to find the idol. The father returns after his bath and finds the idol on the ground and unable to shift it, in panic he rushes to the village elders of Raia and they decide to consecrate the deity at the same spot in Raia.

The Mantap – Photo by Mohan Pai

The image of Kamakshi which is actually worshipped at Shiroda is that of Mahishasuramardini. Hence, it is Mahushasuramardini who is worshipped as Kamakshi at Shiroda and is called Kamakshi because of her amorous eyes. Some scholars trace the origin of Kamakshi of Goa to Kamarupa. Sahyadri Khanda states that she came to Raia from Kavur located in Coimbatore district. 

Tirthasthan – Photograph by Mohan Pai

Jayakeshi I of the Goa Kadambas came into close contact with theTamil country and this probably resulted in his bringing the worshipof Kamakshi to Goa.

Shri Rayeshwar Shrine – Mantap – Photograph by Mohan Pai

The temple is situated in a picturesque locale amidst the hills. The temple has no domes but has a very unusual and distinctive main tower with a tiled roof and the concave profile of a Buddhist Pagoda, projecting beyond a two
storied octagonal tower. Low, decorative wrought-iron balconies run all around the tower on each floor and elephants kneel at the corners of the square on which the tower rests, while hooded Nagas rear from the projecting corners of the pagoda roof. Above all this soars a golden finial.

Vetal is Parivar or Panchayatan Devata at Shri Kamakshi Temple. There is a small shrine at the entrance of the mantap. Photo by Mohan Pai

Shri Rayeshwar -Photo by Mohan Pai

There is a separate small shrine to the main affiliate deities – Shri Rayeshwar, Shri Lakshminarayana and Shri
Shantadurga. Shri Vetal and Shri Kalbhairav, the other two affiliate deities are in the main shrine of Kamakshi at the entrance of the mantapa. The main festivals celebrated here are the Dussera, Gokulashtami, Mahashivaratri, the temple Zatra and Shigmo.


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