Bombay carries the essence of a truly cosmopolitan city, where the teeming millions from all over the country converge and live together. The typical Bombayite is a quintessential cosmopolitan citizen, freed from the barriers of linguistic and cultural differences which otherwise play a sharp role elsewhere in the country. Paradoxically this has also led to the formation of distinct ethnic pockets scattered all over the city, one such famous colony being Matunga, referred to as mini Madras. A stroll down the Matunga lanes will reveal a distinct south Indian flavor reflected in its numerous hotels, shops and temples with their characteristic domes intricately designed with hundreds of sculptured figures, looming high into the sky. However the story of Matunga has a different tale to narrate, even unknown to most of the oldest resident living in the area. It is a tale that weaves itself around the Marubai Gamdevi Temple, whose Goddess has blessed the area since time immemorial. It is a tale of love and devotion. Of power and miracles. It's a tale that transcends beyond localities to cover a whole city called Mumbai (Bombay), where urban logistics co-exist with a strong sense of spiritualism found nowhere else in the country.
MARUBAI TEKDI GAON 1700 AD
1700 AD Matunga was a cluster
of villages, which later on were brought under a single governing umbrella
by the ruling British. The area was called Marubai Tekdi Gaon which was
shortened to MaTunGa or Matunga. Marubai is the traditional Gamdevi (village
Goddess) of Matunga whose small temple existed under a peepal tree at King's
Circle where a Jain Mandir stands today. People invoked the blessings of
the Goddess when children were struck by chickenpox or smallpox.
The very name Marubai is derived from the cry, " Maran bachao" (Save us
from death). For she was the mother Goddess who cured illnesses and saved
people from the jaws of death. Mr. Anil, one of the trustees of temple
and a member of one of the oldest families residing in Matunga has an interesting
story to tell. He speaks of a small boy named Devraj who was struck
by smallpox when he was a small baby, barely a few months old. The baby boy had
lost consciousness and the doctors had given up all hope. His anguished
parents brought the little baby in a banana leaf to the Marubai Temple,
crying at the feet of the Mother Goddess, their last resort and hope.
Today Dr. Devarajan, who was the baby Devraj, is not only one of the leading maternity doctors in Bombay, but is also one of the most ardent devotees of the Divine Mother.
1888 - BOMBAY IMPROVEMENT TRUST
AND ONE DAY SHE WAS SHIFTED…
In 1888 the British formed the Bombay improvement trust, essentially drafted to develop Bombay for administrative and commercial purposes. For the development program plots were taken up from the landholding residents living all over Bombay and in return a nominal sum was paid to each landowner. By 1902 the planning and development of Bombay was implemented in full force. Included in the development was the building of the Dadar-Sion road. The authorities then decided to shift the Marubai temple from the Kings Circle peepal tree to a different location as it came in the way of the road building plan. However, they had to face tremendous opposition from the residents who feared they would invite the wrath of the Goddess if they shifted Her from Her original location. According to legend, the British got it clandestinely removed with the help of a paid labourer. The legend also says that bad luck struck the labourer who helped the authorities move the deity.
1952 - THEN SHE WAS FREE …YET…
In 1952 the Marubai Trust
was formed under the Bombay Public Trust Act. All the villages in Matunga
were brought under a single governing body and in the course the present temple was given an area of 50x60 ft. The British rulers had also set aside
a certain sum for temple maintenance which not only covered the Marubai
Gamdevi Temple but also the other Gamdevis of the seven islands called
Bombay who included Mahalaxmi, Prabhadevi, Sheetladevi and
Mumbadevi. Today the contributions for the maintenance and development
of the Marubai temple comes from the Divine Mother's thousands of devotees.
The funds are carefully managed by the trustees who are the family members
of the oldest residents in the Matunga area. Over the decades these trustees
have cared and nurtured Marubai Devi and they have various
dynamic plans and developmental programs for the future, aimed at spiritual and social
development. Various activities of the Temple are conducted to help people
lead a better life with the blessings of the Devi. However it was
not a smooth ride, as explained by Mr.Mahtre. Mr. Mahtre is not only
the architect of the temple design and construction, but also a dynamic
personality whose relentless efforts have removed various obstacles faced
in the course of development. Mr. Mahtre is also the force behind many
a housing programs aimed at rehabilitating people from hutments and chawls.
Mr.Mahtre narrates the story of how Mr. Arun Gujarathi, the current speaker
of the Maharashtra assembly reminded the Brihinmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)
" We all ask God for various favours, why don't we for a change give GOD
something in return ?". This was the guiding line which eventually led
the BMC to graciously allow the smooth development and progress of the Temples plans and
programs. Today, the Temple trust aims at building
a complete complex of spiritual activities and a social welfare centre.
1989 -90 : PLANS IN FULL SWING BUT THERE WAS FEAR…
Mr. Anil, a trustee, loves his Devi. He grew up listening to his grandmother's tales about Marubai and holds the Divine Mother in awe, respect and fear. Which is why when deciding about the actual execution of the temple construction plan he feared that he might invite the wrath of the Devi if he disturbed Her home, the Temple. It was then that the temple trustees decided to consult the Adi Shankaracharya who was close to Mr. Shiva, also an ardent devotee of the temple (and the Secretary of the Kumbhabhishekham committee) . Mr. Shiva explained that, at first, they were anxious about whether His Holiness would come all the way to see such a small and insignificant temple. Surprisingly, the Shankaracharya not only agreed to come and visit the temple but, as Mr. Shiva says, he was in complete awe of Marubai, the Divine Mother. He fully agreed to the idea of the temple being further built, on the condition that the present idol of the Goddess should not be disturbed from its current location in any way. He blessed the place and gave the go ahead for the building program which must also make sure that no human foot shall ever step across the main temple dome. Having thus said, he blessed the place and offered prasad to all the trustees who were relieved and overjoyed.
2000 AD - THE MOTHER RIDES THE REGAL CREST.
MAHA KUMBHABHISHEKHAM AND KALASH PRATISHTA 11-2-2000
The Temple will hold a Maha Kumbhabishekham on the 11-2-2000 of the two decade old mandir. The Kumhabhikekham is a Pooja performed to sanctify the Temple and its inner spaces. The sacred Pooja will be performed by the Kanchi Kamakotipeetam, Shri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal, and Shree Shankara Vijyendra Saraswati Swamigal who have graciously agreed to perform the Maha Kumbhabishekham in the early hours of the auspicious day.
The Temple complex is nearing completion . Informatively, within the temple precincts, there will be Sannadis for Lord Ganesha and Lord Jalaram Bappa.