Mahalasa is identified with Mohini, the female avatar of the god Vishnu. Mahalasa has four hands, carrying a Trishula, a sword, a severed head, and a drinking bowl. She stands on a prostate man or demon, as a tiger or lion licks blood dripping from the severed head.
Mahalsa's older temple in Old Mardol or Velham or Verna, Salcette was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1567, though the icon of the Mahalasa was rescued. It was shifted here from Velham to avoid destruction during the forcible Christianization of Salcette. When the current temple in Mardol was built in the 17th century, the icon was reconsecrated. The icon's history before Verna is blurry. Some believe that the main temple of Mahalasa was originally located in Nepal. She was moved to Aurangabad in Maharashtra. During the Mughal domination, Aurangabad fell under the Muslim rule and the icon was moved to a secret location in Goa.Later, a small temple was built at Verna.
The Mardol temple complex also has smaller temples of the goddess Shantadurga and Lakshmi Narayan , who are worshipped daily with Mahalasa. The shrines for five main ganas of Mahalasa, namely Grampurush, Bhagwati, Dadh, Simha Purush and Mhal Purush, are also located within the temple premises. Daily worship of all these deities is carried out before worshipping the main goddess. The temple has the canteen which is run by the workers. After the morning and evening aarti the Prasad- the holy meal is served here. The temple is famous in Goa for its huge brass bell. The bell does not have a ringer.
The ringer was attached only when somebody wanted to testify. It was believed that the goddess will punish the person by killing the person in three days who lied while ringing the bell. The belief was so strong that during the Portuguese rule the testimony in the temple was considered acceptable in the court of law. It is also famous for its Brass Divli/Samai .
Shri Mahalasa Temple Mardol
Mahalasa is considered as both female and male. She is dressed in alankar as various Vishnu-related deities at various days in the year. She is dressed as Vishnu's wife Lakshmi as well as Vishnu's male forms like Rama, Krishna,Vithoba, Venkateswara etc.