Samaleswari is the chief deity of an Eastern state of Odisha (India), named Sambalpur. She is called Samlesiri because she is worshipped under a cotton tree that is called Semel or Simili. She is also known as Somaleswari because she bestows eternal bliss on her devotees (Soma means eternal bliss). She is also considered as a manifestation of Shakti (power and strength), thus is worshipped as Jagatjanani (one from whom the universe has been born), LakshmiLakshmi
Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess who is regarded as the ultimate deity of wealth... (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Sarawati (Goddess of knowledge and intellect). She is majorly worshipped in Odisha and parts of Chattisgarh.
Legend of Balaram Dev
Balaram Dev was the king of Sambalpur and was very fond of hunting. One day he crossed Mahanadi River and with his hounding dogs went to hunt. Soon he was shocked to see that his dogs were being chased by a rabbit. The hounds were filled with fear and the king with amazement. The rabbit then disappeared at the foot of the simili tree.
Balaram went back home and as soon as he feel asleep, he had a dream of Samlesiri. She asked him to build a temple for her near that tree where the rabbit vanished. She blessed him and the king woke up. From the very next day he started with the work of the temple. He installed an idol near the bank of the river and the temple was built for the villagers to worship the deity.
Legend of Kalapahar
Kalapahar was the General of the military expeditions taking place in Odisha. He had the reputation of creating havoc and blunder. He rampaged many temples built in the nearby areas and now wanted to destroy the temple built in the name of Samlesiri. But before he could start his mission, he met a beautiful milkmaid. So awestruck he was with her beauty that he wanted to gain some favors from her and for that he bought all the milk, curd and cheese from her and distributed the items in his army. He consumed it too. The very next morning everyone was sick and was diagnosed with cholera. It is believed that the milkmaid was none other than Samlesiri herself. All the army along with the General died and their tombs are found near the bank of Mahandi River.
The temple was rebuilt by a king named Chhatra Sai and the idol placed was made of granite. It also has an inverted trunk like projection. Her nose is decorated with gold jewelry. One can feel awe, reverence and affection looking at the idol.
Earlier human sacrifices were made at the altar of Samlesiri Temple. It is believed that the foundation of the temple was laid on two dead bodies of a couple. But with the change in time, buffaloes were sacrificed and now only goats and sheep’s are used for that purpose.
People worship Samlesiri for peace and prosperity. Also people suffering from diseases visit the temple to ask for healthy life and relief from the diseases and pain.