Samalai was one of the most famous female deities of Orissa in the medieval period. In the famous Mangala Stuti of Orissa she is presented as one of the twelve Durgas(Dwadasa Durgas) of Orisa. She is also known as Samaleswari in many texts. There has been considerable disagreement among the historians and men of Sanskrit studies about the origin of this name. Acording to one view from the name Sambala Sambalai or Samalai was originated. According to another view Somalai or Somalesvari was originated from Soma. Late Siba Prasad Das on the basis of the text of Ptolemy did not accept the Aryan nature of the deity and stated that she was the deity of the tribal groups like Savarai and Mundas inhabiting in the northern bank of the river Mahanadi. Later on she became the presiding deity of the Chauhan kingdom of Balaram Deb in Sambalpur. According to Prahlad Pradhan Samalai was originally Kharamunda and her worship was confined to the tribal groups of Western Orissa. This view of Pradhan has been refuted by Jitamitra Singhdeo and Kaviraj Prayag Datta Joshi who that the view was based on strange imagination. They identified the deity with the Goddess of Sambaragarh who was brought to Patnagarh by the Chauhans. Acording to them she was Sakambari=Isvari=Sambaresvari which in course of time became Sambalesvari. Ram Prasad Mishra in this connection presents a different view.
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