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Devotees throng famed Shila Mata temple at Amber Palace in Jaipur to mark beginning of Navaratri festival
Navaratri festivities started this morning in Jaipur with Kalash Sthapana and devotees thronging the famous Shila Mata temple at Amber Palace. The temple will witness the visitations and offering of worship till September 21.

During the nine-day Navaratri festival, hundreds of thousands of people and followers of Shakti cult from all over country but more so from Jaipur and surrounding areas will continue to throng the temple to pay offerings to Shila Mata.

It is said that the revered and famous idol of Durga at the temple was brought by Raja Man Singh I of Amber from Jessore of East Bengal in 1604 CE which was  recovered from sea in the form of a shila or slab and thus acquired the name Shila Mata.

Meanwhile, according to an official release, the elephant rides to the Amber Palace and at Jaleb Chowk have been halted. However, the evening sound-and-light show at the palace will continue as usual for the tourists. The elephant rides will resume from October 1, added the release.

The elephant rides have been suspended looking at the crowds of the devotees that visit the famed temple that belongs to the Shakti cult subscribing worship of Durga in her varied forms as goddess of power as well as feminine divine energy of creation, preservation and destruction.

Though the temple premises are visited daily by tourists for its architectural beauty consisting of immaculate workmanship consisting of elegantly carved pillars, walls, panels with floral patterns, but the devotion, piety and reverence of devotees is worth watching during Navaratri.

In devotional Hinduism, broadly three paths to self-realisation exist, namely, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism. The popularity of Shaktism is on the rise if one looks at number of devotees that visit Vaishno Devi in the north and Meenakhi Temple in the south.

This also shows that principally, devout Hindus are needed to be brought up with a deep reverence for the female principle and treat the feminine divine as an essential part of their religious experience.

In Hinduism, a mother is given the status of a Goddess. The mool matra of Shaktism is 'Matru Devo Bhava'.

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