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Temple where Aurangzeb fainted

It is said that the Mughal emperor bowed before the spiritual significance of of the deity of Khajuraho's Matangeswara temple.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 11:23 IST

Mahashivratrifallson February 26 this year and while big cities will see big events, Khajuraho, tucked deep in the ancient heart of India, has its own plans. Best known for its fabulous erotic sculptures, Khajuraho’s private spiritual side is found at the only living temple of the 25 surviving ones in the complex: the 10th century temple to Shiva as Matangeswara.

Babulal Gautam, Matangeswara’s pujari, says his family has been in charge of the temple since time immemorial. Meanwhile, a written document in Pali in the temple says that while Aurangzeb destroyed many other temples in the area, he fell into a faint when he came here. When he gained consciousness, he accepted the spiritual significance of the deity and even offered a khshama (apology). It is told that Aurangzeb later issued a fatwa that the cost of essential items for puja in the temple be borne from the imperial treasury.

A nine-foot Shivlinga, one of the biggest in the country, occupies the sanctum floor. Lord Shiva is shown in his rudra (angry) mood. The temple festivities will go on for several days. This historic region of Bundelkhand is an old bastion of Shaivites and devotees come from far off places to offer worship. Traders, peddlers and gypsies throng a colourful ten-day bazaar.

A baraat (wedding procession) of Shivji will be taken out on Shivratri while devotees give abhishek (wateroffering) and perform parikrama (worshipful walk-around) of the temple. Prayers will continue all night long. Lord Shiva will wear a khajri (date palm) crown that will be removed on Amaavasya, the night of lunar darkness, on February 27.

This Shivalinga is venerated as a siddhi murti or empowered form and people come here for mannat (to ask boons). After their wish is fulfilled, they come back to tie jhoomar (cloth) in acknowledgement.

This year, both the annual Khajuraho dance festival and Mahashivratri happen on the same weekend. The dance festival starts tomorrow while Mahashivratri will be observed on Sunday night.