Babadham also known as Vaidhyanath Dham is a temple located in the Deoghar district of Jharkhand and is famous as being one of the 11 Lingas of Lord Shiva across India. It has also got a very interesting legend behind it.
History and significance of Babadham temple, Deoghar:
Ravana, the king of Lanka now Srilanka, a great ruler, and scholar has been one of the greatest devotees of the lord Shiva of all the times. Though a great scholar, it is believed that he was very much arrogant and stubborn. Though a demon but with his awe-inspiring capability of reigning over the world, it is also sad that he almost ruled over all the three worlds and a few of the Gods were not lesser than his slaves.
One day his obstinate mind drives him to bring his favorite god, lord Shiva, to his house for permanent. To fulfill this dream, he goes to mount Kailash, the place where lord Shiva used to live with his family and in order to please the supreme lord he cut his head and put it as a sign of sacrifice for pleasing the lord Shiva, but lord Shiva replaced his head with new ones every time.
This process was repeated Nine times, after which Shiva was happy & pleased with Ravana’s resilience & devotion and decided to shift his home permanently from Mount Kailash in the Himalayas to Srilanka.
The hard Promise to be kept by Ravana:
Lord Shiva was ready to shift to his new home but he had a deal with Ravana that though he was ready to go along with Ravana to Lanka in form of a lingam but Ravana won’t keep the lord on the earth for a single moment until he reaches Lanka. However, if he keeps the God on earth, he wont be able to uproot the God out of once kept on the ground. Happily accepting the deal Ravana was ready to take the God to his home.
Clamoring in the Heaven:
Seeing the supreme lord, lord Shiva, known for his whimsical and blithe behavior, being shifted over to a demon’s house, there was an “SOS” critical situation in the heaven where all the Gods used to live. It was so because if the supreme lord moves over to a demon house then no one would be able to defeat him and one day, Ravana might rule the heaven expelling all the Gods out of heaven.
Save us, Guru- The lord Vishnu:
Lord Vishnu is said to be guru and rescuer of all the Gods. So, all the Gods decided to held a meeting with the Guru to find a solution out to keep the supreme lord out of reach of the Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana.
The trick and the holy river Ganges:
In the meeting, it was decided that the Ganges will enter inside the Ravana’s body forcing him to pass water. According to Hindu mythology, a God can not be touched with the hands that has been used in passing water out of body until its washed.
So, the Ganges entered inside the body of the king ravana forcing him to pass water. While Guru Vishnu disguised as a shepherd was watching the whole scene. Ravana, unable to control asked the disguised shepherd to hold the Lingam until he finished passing water. But, it took so long to pass the water because passing the Ganges out of the body was not an easy task. Tired of the time taken by Ravana, the shepherd kept the Lingam on the ground.
The Shiva-lingam at Baba dham:
After finishing his job, Ravana needed water to wash over his hands. There was not any source of water around so he pressed the earth with his thumb to get the water out of the earth. This place is called “Shiva-Ganga” these days.
Shiva Ganga at Baba dham, Deoghar
After washing his hands, he tried to uproot the Lingam out of the earth but he could. It is said that he used his full power to uproot the Lingam and even the whole earth shook but he could not get the Lingam out. In anger, he pressed the Lingam inside the earth. And this is how one of the twelve lingams of Lord Shiva came into existence.
Until recently, people used to worship the earthened lingam when engineers took the lingam out of the earth.
Baba Dham main temple at the night
The Sawan mela/ Kanwar mela: The longest fair in the world
Sawan/Shravan, a Hindi month is said to be the most auspicious month for worshiping the lord Shiva. Monday is said to be the most auspicious day to worship the lord. Sometimes, people keep fasting on the Monday in the month of Shravan. The longest fair in the world starts from Sultanganj, a place in Bhagalpur district in Bihar to the Baba Dham, deoghar in Jharkhand. This fair starts in the Hindi month of Sawan (August- September) and it lasts for more than a month.
In this fair, people mostly wear maroon or red cloths which is again said to be a auspicious color and take the holy Ganges water from SultanGanj to offer the water to Baba Dham. The distance between these two places are 105 Kms. Most of the people take around 4-5 days of time to cover the pilgrimage distance.
They are known as “Bol bum”. Some cover the distance with in just 24 hours and they are called “Dak bum”. “Dak” means post or a person who always runs like a post-man through out the journey. To your astonishing, some take around a month to cover the same distance.
Kanwars are used to carry the holy water from the Ganges
Famous things inside the main temple at Baba dham:
This well is situated near the main entrance of the Temple courtyard in the north side. People say that it was built by Ravana in the past. If you do not have the Ganges water to offer to the Lord Shiva, you can use the holy water from this well to offer to the God.
As seen in the first picture above, people go for tying a know between the temple of the Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati, his wife. It is believed that this brings love and prosperity between husband and wife.
Who are Pandas?
Pandas are the local worshipers and main deities of the temple. For any religious purpose, they can be contacted inside the temple. You can see hundreds of them inside the temple complex.
Kind of worships and offerings to the lord:
There are various kinds of offerings and worships that can be dedicated to the lord Shiva. But they demand your pocket to be a little loose. Some of the famous worships are Pushpanjali (Offerings of the flowers) , Offering milk, Vaidik Rudrabhishek etc.