The name “Dhakeshwari” itself means “Goddess of Dhaka”. The Dhakeshwari Temple is a state-owned Hindu temple located at Bakshi Bazar, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, giving it the merit of being Bangladesh’s ‘National Temple’. Dhakeshwari Temple was renamed Dhakeshwari Jatiya Mandir (National Temple) in the year 1966, reflecting its position as the centre of Hindu culture and worship in Bangladesh.
This was the result of the culmination of a major campaign by Bangladeshi Hindu groups who had been demanding official recognition for the primary Hindu place of worship following the declaration of Islam as the state religion in 1988. As a result, the flag of Bangladesh is hoisted every morning outside the main temple premises, and it follows the National Flag Code rules such as rendering half-mast on nationally declared days of mourning. As a practice in other leading religious places of worship in Bangladesh, day long prayers are a common practice during the important national holidays such as Independence Day, Language Martyrs’ Day, Victory Day and birth and death anniversaries of former leaders such as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman.
The Dhakeshwari temple was built-in the 12th century by Ballal Sen, a king of the Sena dynasty, and many say the name of the city was coined after this temple. The current style of architecture of the temple cannot be dated to that period because of numerous repairs, renovations and rebuilding in its long years of existence and its present condition does not clearly show any of its original architectural characteristics. Though it is still considered an essential part of Dhaka’s cultural heritage.
Many researchers say that the temple is also one of the Shakti Peethas, where the jewel from the crown of the Goddess had fallen. Although there is not enough historical contexts in order to establish this as a fact, researchers were directed to this site while trying to locate the particular Shakti Peetha. Since ages, the temple has been held in great importance. The original 800-year old statue was destroyed during the War of 1971. The temple was further damaged during the riots of 1989-90.
It is widely believed that the Queen, wife of King Bijoy Sen went to Langolbond for bathing. While coming back she gave birth to a son, known to historians as Ballal Sen. After ascending to the throne, Ballal Sen built this temple to glorify his birthplace. Legends say that Ballal Sen once dreamt of the goddess covered under the jungle and he uncovered the idol from there and built a temple and named it as Dhakeswari. Whatever the legends describe, Hindu religious consider Dhakeswari to be the presiding holiness of Dhaka, which is an incarnation or form of Goddess Durga the Adi Shakti.
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