Dhakeshwari Temple, the National Temple of Bangladesh, is the largest Hindu temple in Bangladesh. The temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. It is believed that the gem of Sati’s crown had fallen there. Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, was named after Devi Dakeshwari (the name of Devi Durga). The temple is an inseparable part of the cultural heritage of Bangladesh. The Hindus consider Devi Dhakeshwari as the presiding deity of Dhaka and thus they worship the Adi Shakti at Dhakeshwari Temple.
In the 12th century, Ballal Sen, an eminent ruler of the Sena Dynasty, built the Dhakeshwari Temple. Today, the architectural style of the temple is not the same as it was during the era of Sena Dynasty. It has undergone several repairs, renovations, and reconstruction. Due to the Vested Property Act, a major portion of the temple land has been lost. The Vested Property Act is a law in Bangladesh that allows the government to seize property from any individual if considered as an enemy of the state. In 1971, before the independence of Bangladesh, it was known as the Enemy Property Act. In 1974, the act was renamed the Vested Property Act. The act deprives a Bangladeshi citizen of property simply by the declaration of that person as an enemy of the state.
In 1988, Islam was declared the official religion of Bangladesh. Following that, the Bangladeshi Hindu groups started demanding official recognition for the primary Hindu place of worship. As a result, in 1996, the Dhakeshwari Temple was renamed Dhakeshwari Jatiya Mandir (Dhakeshwari National Temple).
Every year, Durga Puja in Dhaka is held at the Dhakeshwari Temple. A few days after the Puja, a Vijaya Sammilani takes place on the parade ground, adjoining the temple.
A fact, unknown to many, is that the Durga idol, now present in the Dhakeshwari Temple is actually a replica of the original idol. During the partition, the original idol, which is around 800 years old, was taken to Kumartuli, Kolkata from Dhaka along with millions of refugees. The idol was first kept in Harachandra Mallik Street, in the house of Debendranath Chowdhury. The golden 1.5ft tall idol is in the form of Katyayani Mahishasura Mardini ‘Durga’. By 1950, Debendranath Chaudhary built the temple of the Goddess in Kumartuli. It was named, Dhakeshwari Mata Temple.
Durga Puja is celebrated grandly in West Bengal. In the Dhakeshwari Mata Temple, Kolkata, Durga Puja is celebrated in a completely different manner. Instead of following the traditional Bengali customs, the Dhakeshwari Devi is worshipped as per the north Indian Navratri rituals. The Devi is offered bhog prasad, which is strictly veg. Twelve deep (earthen lamps) are lit on the mangal ghat.
The less explored temple is considered to be the most divine and spiritually awakened spot by the locals. Although the Adi Devi of Bangladesh became homeless like millions of refugees, she has found her home in Kolkata’s Kumartuli, where she is showered with love and is worshipped daily.