The Origin of Manikeswari

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

Teller: Satya Narayana Mundchhina

[M 33. Tribe: Paika. Village: Principal, Panchayat College, Thuamul Rampur, Kalahandi. Date: Oct 20, 1999. Interviewer: B. K. Tripathy, E. R. Rao & team. Cassette No. 146, Side A. O. Tr. Pp.: 12,937-944. F.N.: Kal, p. 18. Transcriber: F. B. Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing & emendation). Type: Myth-Legend.]

Translator: Biyotkesh Tripathy


There was a king of Naga dynasty. This refers to the eleventh century. The king’s name was Nrpati Bhusana. This Thuamul Rampur was not his fort. It was at Thuamul, 15 kms from here, where River Indrabati takes her origin. That place is the original seat, the Adi Pitha, of Manikeswari. That is Thuamul. This is Rampur. In the past a king called Ramachandra Deb ruled here, of the Naga dynasty. What Ramachandra Deb did was, he saw that Thuamul was surrounded by jungle and it was difficult to go there since one had to go through that dense forest, difficult to traverse. So he shifted Manikeswari to Rampur. After she was installed here it came to be known as Thuamul Rampur.

There is "Thap" here. Thap is a dance of the tribal people, derived from the Thap song. There is a Jena Khal here also, where Manikeswari has been installed. Jena is a god, a god of animals.

(Q: All right. The "boka" [goat] that is sacrificed, is that offered to Jena or Manikeswari?)

It is offered to Manikeswari through god Jena.

(Q: This your Mundchhina tribe, what kind of a tribe is it?)

It is classed under "other backward classes" now. But, although the government has not declared it a tribe, rightly speaking a tribe, because all our puja and rituals are performed according to tribal culture and customs.

(Q: What are the rituals?)

You see, the rituals of worshipping the sword etcetera as Khyatriyas is done according to Manikeswari’s traditions on Bijaya Dasami [tenth day after the New Moon in the month of Aswina, during September-October]. Then the "toki" festival is celebrated here for our Adibasi god, Gharnima. All the tribes living here support it. We all participate and help.

(Q: So this is fully integrated with the Adibasi culture?)


(Q: What is the name of your tribe?)

It is called Paika.

(Q: What would be the population of the Paikas?)

About one thousand.

(Q: Is it same as the people bearing the title of "Singhabhoi"?)

They are different from us.

(Q: Are they also tribal people?)

Yes. They are tribal people according to the government. Bhois are tribal people.

(Q: To which main tribe do they belong?)

They belong to the Ganda [Gond] tribe. They are a part of the Gandas who live in our Kalahandi. They were the Ganda kings. What has happened is that in 1857 Junagarh was the capital of Kalahandi. At this time, Fateh Narayana Deo, a king of the Naga dynasty, was ruling in Kalahandi. One the other side, E. S. Eliot was the Commissioner at Raipur. This region was under his control. At hat time, this region had been divided into three parts. One was the Chakrakot Mandala, another was Mahakantara Mandala and the third was Komala Mandala. Mahakantara was the Bhawanipatna area. The area from the Indrabati valley to Bastar was called Chakrakot Mandala. The Narla region was known as the Komala Mandala. Even now, in the Narla Shiva temple, it is mentioned as Kamala Mandala. Dr Nabin Kumar Sahu mentions this in his book. According to Satya Narayana Rajguru. For these three regions there was a capital, at Junagarh. When cholera became rampant in Junagarh, the capital was shifted to Bhawanipatna. The earlier name of Bhawanipatna was "Undeswara." When the king came here he established the Bhawanishankar temple, near Purushottama Sagara. And then the town was named Bhawanipatna. There is a lot of record supporting this.

The, after Bhawanipatna had been established, when cholera started and sundry wars started, Fateh Narayana Deo’s wife, Asha Kumari went away to Gadapur in the Phulbani district. Gadapur was her hometown. So, Asha Kumari stayed there. She came back with a child which was born there. At that time it had been declared that the king was no longer here. That son, Udit Pratap Deo, was the father of our Braja Mohan Deo. But he is not accepted as the son of Udit Pratap Deo. At that time, a Ganda king had taken over the kingdom in the absence of Fateh Narayana Singh.

(Q: When did the Ganda king come to Bhawanipatna and what was his name?)

He came after Fateh Narayana Deo. I do not rightly remember his name, but his children are there.

Another thing, the guardian goddess of Gadapur is our Manikeswari. It is often said that Manikeswari has been brought from Gadapur and established here. Even now the rituals of Manikeswari are performed in Gadapur. Nilamani Senapati has recorded some evidence about this. Eliot’s report of 1857 is very helpful in studying the history of Kalahandi. But as far as I have gathered material on the history of Kalahandi Umashankar and Baba Misra are doing a lot of work. Baba Misra is working on the prehistoric period. Then, Gita Misra Sen is working on the inscriptions. So the history of Kalahandi is a little controversial. The total picture has not emerged. There are diverse myths. The priming myth is being worked out keeping that conflict in mind.

Now what is happening is that we see that in tribal folklore, in the "Thap" song the origin of Manikeswari is given in a different manner. This is the myth:

There was a king in Thuamul. He was of the Naga dynasty. He had a daughter. Her name was Manika Debi. She was given in marriage to the prince of Kasipur. After the marriage, a quarrel arose between the princess of Thuamul and her husband. Because of the quarrel what Manika Debi did was she took a horse and a sword and wanted to ride to her father’s place overnight.

At the time she was running away to her father’s place, her father-in-law had gone to Thuamul to his son’s father’s place. He was now returning to his home. [On the way] he saw his daughter-in-law coming. Where did he see her? He saw her in the Kutra hill pass, just six kilometers from Thuamul. When he saw her in Kutra pass, he said, ‘Come, let’s go back home. Why are you running away?’ The princess refused.

‘I can’t go back,’ she said. ‘If I go it will be my severed head that will go.’

‘You must come back,’ her father-in-law said.

When she refused, he cut her head off with his sword. She rode away to her village without her head. When she reached home, it was midnight. Everyone was astounded at the sight. They wondered how Manika came without her head, with blood flowing out. They asked her and the headless body spoke.

Then they decided that they must do something for her memory. So they buried Manika’s headless body. Then at that place they built a temple, which was named after her as Manikeswari. This is sung in our Thap song. It is a Kandha [Kondh] song.

On the other side, the head that the father-in-law had carried away was [likewise treated] in Kasipur and a temple was built over it. This is in the Tap song.

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