Goddess Khodiyar Maa derives her name from the word ‘khodi’ which means feet injury. The story behind this is when she was playing with her brother Mehrak. He was bit by a venomous snake. To treat him, ‘Ami’ the Exilir of Life had to be brough from Naga Lokha which is under the sea. He had to be attended before sunset.
Khodiyar Maa, then known as Janbai, volunteers this chore. While she was under water in Naha Kingdom, she injures her foot in the hostile rocks beneath. A divine crocodile escorts Maa back to the surface and lands Maa on the banks. Maa limps her way to save the brother, 'khodati aavechhe’ meaning ‘she is limping her way. The brother is saved. Towards this, the eldest sister Aaval, names her Khodiyar and declares that she would be worshipped as Khodiyar Maa. It was this event that also legitimised the ‘magar’ – crocodile as her Vahana. Symbolically Khodiyar Maa represents swiftness in answering prayers and her vahana, supremacy over land and water and also other attributes.
BIRTH AND FAMILY: Her story starts in Roishala village in Gujarat. Her father, Mamaniya Gadhvi enjoys a superb relationship with Maharaja Shilabhadra who rules Vallabhipur province. This causes envy among the ministers who plan to get rid of him. So they persuade the queen. He was not allowed access to the palace and Mamaniya asks why. His ‘baanj', the childless status is given as the reason. That apparently would make the palace inauspicious. He returns home without debate but his wife, Minalde could read his eyes. They decide to pray to Lord Siva and performs Kamal pooja, a kind of hatha yoga. Lord Siva delays appearance so Mamaniya decides to give his life. He attempted the sacrifice and just then Lord Siva appears.
Mamaniya was taken to Naga Lokha, the Snake Kingdom, to see Naga Deva, the King of Snakes. The Naga king hears of the humiliation and Nagadeva’s daughters called Nagaputris, advise him what is to be done. Mamaniya returns to prepare eight cradles in anticipation of children. Sure enough, one day eight snakes crawled into Mamaniya' house; all transforming as seven daughters and one son. One of the daughters was Khodiyar Maa. She is later venerated as Goddess with a crocodile as her vahana. She has many other names such as Khodal, Trishuldhari, Maavdi. Later Maharaj Shilabadra later hears of the miraculous births and divine qualities of Khodiyar Maa. He thus joins the Mamaniya Charan’s celebrations. It is said that Khodiyar Maa also saved Shilabadra from an assassination attempt. She also went on to protect the kingdom and the subjects and went on to become the undisputed Goddess of the province..
ATTRIBUTES: Khodiyar Maa represents immediate deliverance. She understands her impatient bhaktas and thus comes to quick resque. Her raised right hand is the symbolised blessings of generosity. With her Trishula, she comes heavy on evil. Reading of ‘Khodiyar Chalisa’ is also a shield from evil. Maa’s benevolence transcends normal relationships as she considers her bhaktas as children. Thus she rules over mind and heart. She chose Magar, an amphibian animal, as her vahana. Towards this Maa shares innumerable attributes with Goddess Akilanda of the South.
VAHANA: Maa vahana has meaningful attributes, given the fact that she rides on to move in a flowing river. The crocodile represents our reptilian brain telling us that we use our intellect to outgrow fear in facing problems. The Goddess not only faces her fear, but she uses it as a vehicle to move her forward on her path to greater growth, strength, and beauty. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. This vahana is symbolic of outgrowing and fracturing self-concepts, behaviors, situations to move closer to her highest form and to the highest truth. It is like shaking things up to remove the pieces that no longer serve a higher purpose and integrating new things that do.
By her accounts in Naga Lokha, Khodiyar Maa shows us to be present with her pain, fear, disappointments, but also her joys and to continually grow. She refuses to succumb fear in facing a predicament. The most certain thing in life is the uncertainty surrounding it. So pleasantries of life are but an illusion. Maa tells us to face it and break down this maya. So, bridle the crocodile and ride him down the river, the river of life. Through her vahana, she indicates an attitude to take a problem by the horns, as the crocodile plucks the prey from the banks of the river, takes the prey-problem deep in the water-flowing life, spins it until the prey-problem is disoriented- sees a solution.
Crocodile eggs are indicative of human destiny. The reptile takes considerable time to build nests on the river banks in which to lay their eggs. Then again they leave, seemingly without concern of their effort and the impatience to see babies being born. This is what Divine does for you. Your birth may be your karma but there you are left to swim the river of life and face trials and tribulations which come as uncertainities.
TEMPLE: Khodiyar Maa temples are found all over Gujarat, Rajashtan and Mumbai but main four are Matel near Wankaner, Bhavagar, Galdhare and Tataniya. It is said that at the Matel temple,people see the crocodile while doing the puja for maa khodiyar. Crocodile comes from the river which is located in front of temple. The temple in Rajpara village near Bhavnagar city at Rajpara village has a prominent lake known as Tataniya Dharo. This gives Maa the name of Tataniya Dhara Wali.
DEVOTEES: Love for God starts with a belief, faith, devotion and a knowing. Faith is the greatest form of power of the universe and knowing is of the Truth. Maa also deserves the same commitment and chanting ‘Jai Khodiyar’ helps a bhakta to achive this.The chant, like any chant spoken with sincerity and devotion is enlightening, enriching and empowering. Regionally Maa bhaktas practice ‘mannats’ which is an offering made against a wish fulfilled and ‘badhas’ which is abstention from mainly food or other sense gratifications.
Jai Khodiyar Maa.