Worship of the primeval energy Shakti in the form of
the mother Goddess is seen in the four Shakti Peethas of Maharashtra - Tuljapur
enshrining Bhavani, Kolhapur
enshrining Mahalakshmi, Mahur enshrining Mahamaya
Renukaand Saptshringi enshrining Jagadamba.
Other Shakti temples in the state are those at Ambe Jogai and Aundh.
(also see Daksha Yagna).
Bhavani was the tutelary deity of Maharaja
Shivaji the valiant Maratha ruler and is held in great reverence throughout the
state of Maharashtra. Bhavani is considered to be an embodiment of the ugra or ferocity,
as well as a Karunaswaroopini - filled with mercy.
The Bhavani temple in Tuljapur is
located on a hill known as Yamunachala, on the slopes of the Sahayadri range in
Maharashtra near Sholapur. The temple entrance is at an elevation and visitors need to
transcend a flight of steps to reach the shrine. Historic records speak of the existence
of this temple from as early as the 12th century CE.
Bhavani is worshipped in the form of
a three foot high granite image, with eigh arms holding weapons, bearing the head of the
slain demon Mahishasura. Bhavani is also known as Tulaja, Turaja, Tvarita and Amba.
Legend has it that a demon by name
Matanga wreaked havoc upon the devas and the humans who approached Bhrahma for help and
upon his advice turned to the Mother Goddess Shakti, who took up the form of the
destroyer, and powered by the other (Sapta) Maataas Varaahi, Bhrahmi, Vaishnavi, Kaumaari,
Indraani and Saambhavi and vanquished him to enable to peace to reign again.
Legend also has it that Bhavani
vanquished another demon who had taken the form of a wild buffalo (Mahisha), and took
abode on the Yamunachala hill, which is now home to the temple.
Four worship services are offered
each day here. The festivals of significance here are Gudi Padva in the month of Chaitra,
Shriral Sashti, Lalita Panchami, Makara Sankranti and Rathasaptami. The deity is
taken out in procession on Tuesdays. Navaratri is also celebrated with great fanfare, and
it culminates in Vijaya Dasami.