Indian Navy honours Tara-Tarini hill shrine by naming sailboat

Indian Navy honours Tara-Tarini hill shrine by naming sail boat

Tara-Tarini was the traditional patron deity for ancient Odisha sailors

Induction of the Indian Navy sailboat INSV Tarini, named after the Tara-Tarini hill shrine in Ganjam district of  Odisha, has become an event of joy and pride for the inhabitants of the district.

TariniThe first all-women crew on board INSV Tarini will set sail in August this year to circumnavigate the globe. But for the people of Ganjam district, naming of the sailboat is an honour for the Tara-Tarini shrine and Odia maritime history. In Sanskrit, the word Tarini means both boat and saviour. Tara-Tarini was the traditional patron deity for sailors and merchants of ancient Odisha, who worshipped it for safety and success at sea.

The boat draws her origin from the famous Tara-Tarini temple of Odisha’s Ganjam district. Tara-Tarini is the patron deity for sailors and merchants and is worshiped for safety and success at sea from ancient period it self. Only for that mega ports like Manikpatna, PALUR, DANTAPURA, SONAPUR, KALINGA NAGAR and PITHUNDA flourished in Ganjam region very near to the Tara Tarini Shakti peetha.

Even the earliest reference to Palur port appears in the work of the Greek sailor Ptolemy during the 2nd century CE who has named it as Paloura.

Tara-Tarini of Odisha is known to have historical linkages with the river Goddess Mhadei — the exclusive boat deity of Goa’s Mhadei river. In Ganjem of Goa, Tara Tarini of Odisha have been worshiped as Tarini Tara vis since ancient times. Both the deities have sculptural similarities and similarities in their puja system.

In order to promote ocean sailing activities and to encourage women empowerment, the Indian Navy conceptualized the idea of the First Indian All Women Circumnavigation of the Globe. A team of six women Officers led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi was selected for this project. These officers have done basic sail training courses at INWTC Mumbai followed by Navigation, Seamanship, Communication and Meterology courses at various naval training schools at Kochi. After completion of theoretical courses, the officers sailed INSV Mhadei to Vizag for the International Fleet Review 2016 and thereafter to Mauritius and back. Following that, they sailed the boat on a grueling voyage to Cape Town in Dec 16.

Tara Tarini Development Board (TTDB) secretary Pramod Panda said the Tara Tarini shrine represents reverence for mother deity and acceptance of mother nature as the protector. Mr. Panda thanked the Indian Navy for naming the new sailboat after the hill shrine.

According to him, this small but great gesture will surely draw attention of people all over the country towards this famous hill shrine of south Odisha.

Rich maritime history

In a statement, cultural organisation ‘Utkal Parishad’ expressed joy over the homage to the deities of the Tara-Tarini hill shrine through the naming of INSV Tarini. According to the organisation, it recognises the rich maritime history of Odisha and Ganjam district. Members of civic organisation ‘Forum for Ganjam’ also celebrated this naming of naval sailboat. J. Suresh of the organisation said this will surely make the young generation become proud of the rich culture and heritage of Odisha and Ganjam region.

Tara-Tarini shrine is located on the Kumari hills on the banks of Rushikulya river in Puriushottampur block of Ganjam district. According to historians, this holy shrine may be linked to the worship of Tara, the primordial deity of the Mahayana Buddhism. Later, it became a major shrine of Tantra.

Buddhist links

A small idol in meditating posture found in the sanctum sanctorum of Tara Tarini temple hints at its ancient Buddhist links. ‘Sadhabas’, the ancient sea faring merchants from Odisha revered Tara-Tarini and worshipped at this shrine before starting their sea voyage.