She is worshiped here alongside some other gods and goddesses. The temple is set on a sal tree, where Maa takes rest with full glory. Ghatagaon is an important tourist attraction, owing to the presence of the temple.
History of the temple is drawn in the depth of past. Local folk have weaved an interesting religious story regarding the placement of the holy deity in this particular place of Ghatagaon village.
Known legends indicate that the deity was installed in in the year 1480, by the then King of Keonjhar, Sri Gobinda Bhanjadeo. At that time, Puri ruler Sri Purusottam Dev chose Sri Govinda Bhanja as his Senapati during Kanchi War.
Under his leadership, Puri King emerged victorious and was able to conquer Kanchi. Purusottam Dev was pleased with Govinda Bhanja and wanted to reward him in return. Keonjhar King had one thing in mind.
He asked permission to take the deity of Maa Tarini along with him to his reigning territory. Puri King assented with him. After that, Govinda Bhanja prayed to Maa Tarini and the goddess agreed to his proposal. But she put forth a condition that if he turns back to look at her during the journey from Puri to Keonjhar, she won’t move further and will become a statue then and there itself.
The King agreed with her and they set on for the traverse. The King was riding a horse and Maa Tarini was following him from behind. Sri Govinda Bhanja could guess that Maa was coming behind from the sound of her ornaments, but near the Ghatagaon village in the deep forest, the clicking sound of her ornaments was not audible.
The King immediately looked back, doubting that Maa had stopped coming. But she was following him and due to the forest mud, her ornaments stopped sounding. As per the condition, Maa Tarini turned into a stone statue and stayed there forever. She was deified as the queen of the dense green forest.
The management of the deity was taken over by the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowment Department of the Government of Odisha in 1970. The present-day temple was constructed in 1980.
No one has returned empty-handed from Maa’s temple. It is the greatness of Maa who has always answered the prayers of her devotees. Maa has offered each one of us whatever we deserve.
She expects nothing from her devotees, except few inexpensive and common things like dedication, devotion, pureness and love. She needs no elaboration, no illustration or worldly things from us.
There is a saying that whoever fondly prays Maa and offers her a coconut on Tuesday or Saturday, will surely get their desires fulfilled by Maa. It has been proved also in certain circumstances.
Tuesday and Saturday is observed as the day of Maa and she loves coconut, hence famously addressed as Nadia Rani. Nowhere in this world can one witness such a miracle!
Other offerings to the goddess are flowers, fruits, matighoda, diyas, mukuta, sari, achaka, gua, arua chaula and sweets.
Collection boxes for coconuts can be seen at all big and small transport hubs in the state. If anyone gives a coconut on the name of Maa, at anywhere in Odisha, then it will no doubt be carried to Maa Tarini Temple in Ghatagaon. The temple receives more than 15,000 coconuts everyday from its state.
Maa Tarini is one of the Shakti Peeth and the chief introductory goddess of Odisha’s culture. She is red-faced with two large eyes and a mark on the middle, indicating the tilak or nose. She is the female embodiment of power and is considered the presiding deity for all Shakti and Tantra Peethas in Odisha.
The temple is open for darshan at a specific time everyday and devotees are allowed to offer prayers during that time only. Some daily rituals are performed at the shrine from opening till closing time of the temple. They are Balyabhoga, Khechudi Dhupa, Arna Dhupa, Sandhya Dhupa and Pahada.
Puja rituals are accomplished by Dehuri, a tribal group that obeys the rites and customs of the puja.
The Balyabhoga begins daily at 6 am in the morning. This puja is also called Badasighar Puja. It is the bath ritual of Maa. Before taking bath, turmeric paste, Chua and sandal paste is applied to the idol. Then water is poured on the goddess for the completion of the ritual.
After that, the aarti begins with lots of ghantas and is ended by offering the Balyabhoga, which consists of Ukhuda, coconut, bananas and other sweets.
The second ritual is Khechudi Dhupa, in which Maa is offered cooked rice with lentils and vegetables called Khechudi.
Third ritual is Arna Dhupa and is observed at midday. In this ritual, Maa is offered Arna, Dali or Dalma.
Fourth ritual is Sandhya Dhupa, in which Maa is offered Chakuli Pitha. After that, aarti takes place at 7:45 pm.
The last ritual is Pahada, in which the temple is closed at 8 pm for resting of the goddess.
Devotees seek Maa’s blessings. Arna Prasad and Chakuli Prasad are made available to the devotees in the Arna Prasad sale counter after Arna Dhupa and Sandhya Dhupa respectively.
Festivals celebrated here have special meaning and specific spiritual impact. They are observed with more interest and cheer.
Sunabesha of Maa Tarini is held on the occassions of Makar Sankranti, Raja Sankranti, Maha Visubha Sankranti, Asadhi Parba and Durga Puja.
Most popular festival in this temple is Chaiti Yatra, which is celebrated in the month of April. This festival is generally commemorated between the last five days of Chaitra and first two days of Baisakha every year. The first day of Baisakha is treated as the Odia New Year.
Patua Yatra is another famous festival celebrated here. It falls in the month of April. Asadhi Parba is widely celebrated in this place in the last Thursday of the Odia month of Asadha.