MBAJIMATA MANDIR, AMBAJI
One of the most popular pilgrim centres in India is Ambaji, situated in the Aravalli mountain range. It is about 60 kms from Palanpur. Over 30 lakh people visit this temple every year.
According to a story in the Bhagwata Puran, there was a time when Prajapati Daksh organized a yagna called
'Bruhaspatisak'. He invited all the gods but did not invite Lord Shankar, who was his son-in-law. Lord Shankar's wife Parvati went to the yagna at her father's home inspite of Shankar's protest. However, when she heard her father criticizing Shankar, she jumped into the flaming yagna kunda and gave her life. Lord Shankar carried her body on his shoulder and started wandering in the three Loks. On seeing this, Lord Vishnu cut her body into pieces with his Chakra. It is said that parts of Maa Parvati's heart fell at Arasur and that is why this Shaktipith is of special importance. Ma Ambaji is also believed to have rescued the Gods from the torture of the demon Mahisasura.
Her original abode is believed to be 4 kms beyond Ambaji, on the Gabbar Mountain. A fair is organized there every year on Chaitri Purnima and Bhadarvi Purnima. Hundreds of devotees come on foot to pay their respects to the Goddess. Poshi Punam, considered to be the Goddess' birthday, is celebrated with Navratri Garbas. This day sees the highest attendance of devotees.
At Ambaji, it is not an idol, but a Visayantra that is worshipped. It is made of pure gold and consists of 51 letters. It is placed in a Gokh (small hollow). The jewellery of the Visayantra is decorated with the crown and sari in such a manner that it appears as if the Goddess is sitting on her 'Savari'.
The Mahashakti rides a tiger on Sunday, Nandi, the holy cow, on Monday, a lion on Tuesday, an elephant (Airavat) on Wednesday, an eagle (Garud) on Thursday, a swan (Hans) on Friday and an elephant on Saturday.
Looking directly at the yantra is banned. So, the priest performs the pooja blind-folded. This yantra is also considered equivalent to the Kalpavruksha.
Ambaji has many guest houses, holiday homes and good Dharamshalas and hotels