Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh): The name of Yama, the Deity of Death, triggers fear. So, worshipping Him may be a shocker to many. Yet it happens in a 300-year-old temple in the Gwalior-Chambal region on the eve of Diwali every year.
The Diwali eve is treated as Narak Choudas or Narak Chaturdashi. There are two legends about this day.
According to one, on this day Krisha, Satyabhama and Kali destroyed demon king Narakasura.
There is another legend that if Yama is worshipped on this day death can be averted and freedom from the cycle of birth and death can be attained.
Therefore, Yama is worshipped on Narak Chaudas or Bhoot Chaudas. Hundreds of people from different parts of the state fetch up at the temple to get the blessings of the Lord of Death (Yama).
According to history, the temple located at Phoolbagh in the middle of Gwalior district in Madhya Pradesh is associated with the Scindia dynasty.
It was the Scindias who installed an idol of Yama at the temple 300 years ago.
The present priest of the temple, whose family members have been associated with the shrine for six generations, said that Santaji Rao Temak of a Maratha family had established the temple.
In the shrine, an icon of Yama has been shown sitting with folded hands before Shiva. He is holding the Markendshwar Shiva Linga in one hand.
An idol of Shiva, with his eternal weapon Trishul (trident), has been made on it. He is shown punishing Yama.
According to another legend, when Shiva was satisfied with the penance of Yama, He appeared before the Deity of Death and said if someone worshipped Yama on this day he would be free from all worries of life.
Devotees think that if they worship Yama on the occasion of Narak Chaudas, they will be freed from the cycle of birth and death.