Jagannath Temple, Puri

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The Jagannath Temple at Puri
The Jagannath Temple at Puri
The Jagannath Temple at Puri
The Jagannath Temple at Puri is located in Odisha
The Jagannath Temple at Puri
The Jagannath Temple at Puri
Location in Orissa
Coordinates: 19°48′17″N 85°49′6″E / 19.80472°N 85.81833°E / 19.80472; 85.81833Coordinates: 19°48′17″N 85°49′6″E / 19.80472°N 85.81833°E / 19.80472; 85.81833
Name
Proper name: Shri Mandira (ଶ୍ରୀ ମନ୍ଦିର), Bada Deula (ବଡ଼ ଦେଉଳ)
Location
Country:  India
State: Odisha
District: Puri
Location: The Grand Road, Puri
Architecture and culture
Primary deity: Jagannath
Important festivals: Ratha YatraChandan YatraSnana Yatra• Hati Besa •Nabakalevara
Architectural styles: Kalinga Architecture
History
Date built:
(Current structure)
1161
Creator: Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva
Website: http://jagannath.nic.in/

The Jagannath Temple (Sanskrit: jagannath mandir; Oriya: ଶ୍ରୀ ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ ମନ୍ଦିର Sri Jagannāth Mandir) in Puri is a famous, sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha. The name Jagannath comes from the word Jagat-Nath which means 'Lord of the Universe' (Jagat = world, Nath = Master/protector).

In Jagannath, the ‘t’ becomes an ‘n’ to mean lord (nath) of the universe.[1] and also, the word "Jagannatha" is evolved from "Jagati" (Oriya: ଜଗତି) (as an elevated platform or "Ratnabedi" on which the wooden form of Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra are worshiped on or the temple [2] ) and "Natha" (Oriya: ନାଥ) (means "Lord").[3] Even in the western language, there exists a word 'juggernaut' that means once a person or artifact gets going, it cannot be stopped, thrashing all that comes in its way.[4]

The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshippers of Krishna and Vishnu, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one's lifetime.[5]

Even though most Hindu deities that are worshiped are made out of stone or metal, the image of Jagannath is wooden. Every twelve years these wooden figures are ceremoniously replaced by using sacred trees, that have to be carved as an exact replica. The reason behind this ceremonial tradition is the highly secret Navakalevara ('New Body' or 'New Embodiment') ceremony, an intricate set of rituals that accompany the renewal of the wooden statues.[4]

The temple was built in the 12th century atop its ruins by the progenitor of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva.[6] [7] The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are hauled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Since medieval times, it is also associated with intense religious fervour.[8]

The temple is sacred to the Vaishnava traditions and saint Ramananda who was closely associated with the temple. It is also of particular significance to the followers of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism whose founder, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was attracted to the deity, Jagannath, and lived in Puri for many years.[9]

Deities[edit]

The central forms of Jagannath, Balabhadra and the goddess Subhadra constitute the trinity of deities sitting on the bejewelled platform or the Ratnavedi in the inner sanctum. The Sudarshan Chakra, deities of Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri are also placed on the Ratnavedi.[10] The deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra are made from sacred Neem logs known as Daru Bramha. Depending on the season the deities are adorned in different garbs and jewels. Worship of the deities pre-date the temple structure and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine.[11]

Origins of the temple[edit]

Ritual chakra and flags at the top shikhara of Puri temple of Jagannatha also related to Sudarsana chakra. The red flag(12 hand or 14 Feet denotes that Jagannath is within the building....

According to the recently[when?] discovered copper plates from the Ganga dynasty,[12] the construction of the current Jagannath temple was initiated by the ruler of Kalinga, Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev.[13] The Jaga mohan and the Vimana portions of the temple were built during his reign (1078 - 1148 CE). However, it was only in the year 1174 CE that the Oriya ruler Ananga Bhima Deva rebuilt the temple to give a shape in which it stands today.[14]

Jagannath worship in the temple continued until 1558, when Odisha was attacked by the Afghan general Kalapahad. Subsequently, when Ramachandra Deb established an independent kingdom at Khurda in Orissa, the temple was consecrated and the deities reinstalled.[13]

Legends[edit]

Legendary account as found in the Skanda-Purana, Brahma Purana and other Puranas and later Oriya works state that Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped as Lord Neela Madhaba by a Savar king ( tribal chief ) named Viswavasu. Having heard about the deity, King Indradyumna sent a Brahmin priest, Vidyapati to locate the deity, who was worshipped secretly in a dense forest by Viswavasu. Vidyapati tried his best but could not locate the place. But at last he managed to marry Viswavasu's daughter Lalita . At repeated request of Vidyapti, Viswavasu took his son-in-law blind folded to a cave where Lord Neela Madhaba was worshipped.

Vidyapati was very intelligent. He dropped mustard seeds on the ground on the way. The seeds germinated after a few days, which enabled him to find out the cave later on. On hearing from him, King Indradyumna proceeded immediately to Odra desha Orissa on a pilgrimage to see and worship the Deity. But the deity had disappeared. The king was disappointed. The Deity was hidden in sand. The king was determined not to return without having a darshan of the deity and observed fast unto death at Mount Neela, Then a celestial voice cried 'thou shalt see him.' Afterwards the king performed a horse sacrifice and built a magnificent temple for Vishnu. Sri Narasimha Murti brought by Narada was installed in the temple. During sleep, the king had a vision of Lord Jagannath. Also an astral voice directed him to receive the fragrant tree on the seashore and make idols out of it. Accordingly the king got the image of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan made out of the wood of the divine tree and installed them in the temple.

Indradyumna's prayer to Lord Brahma

King Indradyumna put up for Jagannath the tallest monument of the world. It was 1,000 cubits high. He invited Lord Brahma, the cosmic creator, consecrate the temple and the images.[15] Brahma came all the way from Heaven for this purpose. Seeing the temple he was immensely pleased with him. Brahma asked Indradyumna as to in what way can he (Brahma) fulfill the king's desire, since was very much pleased with him for his having put the most beautiful Temple for Lord Vishnu. With folded hands, Indradyumna said, "My Lord if you are really pleased with me, kindly bless me with one thing, and it is that I should be issueless and that I should be the last member of my family." In case anybody left alive after him, he would only take pride as the owner of the temple and would not work for the society.

The episode of the Lord's grace during a war with Kanchi[edit]

Jagannath and Balabhadra leading the army of King Purushottama on the expedition to Kanchi

At one time, a king of Kanchi in the down south remarked that the king of Orissa was a chandala (a man of very low caste or status) because, he performs the duties of a sweeper during the Car Festival.[16] When this news reached the ears of the king of Orissa, he led an expedition to Kanchi. Before that, he implored the mercy of Lord Jagannath. The soldiers of Orissa marched towards Kanchi from Cuttack (earlier capital city of Orissa, located on the banks of Mahanadi, at a distance of 30 km from Bhubaneswar . It so happened that when the soldiers, headed by the king Purusottam Dev, reached a place near the Chilika lake, a lady, who was selling curd (a milk preparation, sour in taste) met him (the king) and presented a golden ring studded with precious gems and submitted. "My Lord, kindly listen to me. A little earlier, two soldiers riding over two horses (white and black in colour), approached me and said we are thirsty give us curds to drink.' I gave them curds. Instead of giving me money, they gave me this ring and said,'the king of Orissa will come here, after some time, on his way to Kanchi. You present it to him and he will pay you the money.' So my Lord, you take it and give me my dues.

It took no time for the king to know that the ring belongs to Lord Jagannath. He was convinced that Jagannath and Balabhadra were proceeding to the battle field ahead of him to help him there. To perpetuate the memory of this great incident, the king founded a village in the Chilika lake area. As the name of the lady was Manika, the name given to the village was Manika Patana. Even to this day, the curds of this village are famous.[17]

Legend surrounding the Temple Origin[edit]

The vimana of the main temple

The traditional story concerning the origins of the Lord Jagannath temple is that here the original image of Jagannath (a deity form of Vishnu) at the end of Treta yuga manifested near a banyan tree, near seashore in the form of an Indranila nilamani or the Blue Jewel. It was so dazzling that it could grant instant moksha, so the god Dharma or Yama wanted to hide it in the earth, and was successful. In Dvapara Yuga King Indradyumna of Malwa wanted to find that mysterious image and to do so he performed harsh penances to obtain his goal. Vishnu then instructed him to go to the Puri seashore and find a floating log to make an image from its trunk.

The King found the log of wood. He did a yajna from which god Yajna Nrisimha appeared and instructed that Narayana should be made as fourfold expansion, i.e. Paramatma as Vasudeva, his Vyuha as Samkarshana, Yogamaya as Subhadra, and his Vibhava asSudarsana. Vishwakarma appeared in the form of artist and prepared images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra from the tree.[18] When this log, radiant with light was seen floating in the sea, Narada told the king to make three idols out of it and place them in a pavilion. Indradyumna got Visvakarma, the architect of Gods, to build a magnificent temple to house the idols and Vishnu himself appeared in the guise of a carpenter to make the idols on condition that he was to be left undisturbed until he finished the work.

But just after two weeks, the Queen became very anxious. She took the carpenter to be dead as no sound came from the temple. Therefore, she requested the king to open the door. Thus, they went to see Vishnu at work at which the latter abandoned his work leaving the idols unfinished. The idol was devoid of any hands. But a divine voice told Indradyumana to install them in the temple. It has also been widely believed that in spite of the idol being without hands, it can watch over the world and be its lord. Thus the idiom.

The Rath Yatra in Puri in modern times showing the three chariots of the deities with the Temple in the background

Invasions and Desecrations of the Temple[edit]

The temple annals, the Madala Panji records that the Jagannath temple at Puri has been invaded and plundered eighteen times.[19] The invasion by Raktabahu has been considered the first invasion on the temple by the Madalapanji

Ranjit Singh's will[edit]

Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, had donated massive amounts of gold to the Jagannath temple. In his last will, he also ordered that Koh-i-noor, the most precious and greatest diamond in the world, to be donated to this temple, but the diamond could never actually make its way to the temple because the British, by that time, had annexed the Punjab and all its royal possessions. Thus claiming that the Koh-i-noor was theirs. (It is currently a part of British crown jewels)

Entry and Darshan[edit]

Temple security is selective regarding who is allowed entry. Practicing Hindus of non-Indian descent are excluded from premises,[20] as are Hindus of non-Indian origin. Visitors not allowed entry may view the precincts from the roof of the nearby Raghunandan Library and pay their respects to the image of God Jagannath known as Patitapavana at the main entrance to the temple.[21] There is some evidence that this came into force following a series of invasions by foreigners into the temple and surrounding area. Buddhist, and Jain groups are allowed into the temple compound if they are able to prove their Indian ancestry.[22] The temple has slowly started allowing Hindus of non-Indian origin into the area, after an incident in which 3 Balinese Hindus were denied entry, even though Bali is 90% Hindu.[23]

The temple remains open from 5 am to 12 midnight. All devotees are allowed to go right up to the deities during the Sahana Mela without paying any fees . The Sahana mela or the public darshan is usually following the abakasha puja between around 7 to 8 am in the morning.[24] Special darshan or Parimanik darshan is when devotees on paying 25 Rupees are allowed right up to the deities. Parimanik darshan happens after the dhupa pujas at around 10 am, 1 pm and 8 pm . At all other times devotees can view the deities from some distance for free.

Cultural Integrity[edit]

The Jagannath temple at night

Shrikshetra of Puri Jagannath, as is commonly known, can verily be said to be a truthful replica of Indian culture. To understand this culture, one has to have some idea of the history of this land, which again is different from that of other countries of the world.

Starting from Lord Jagannath himself, history has it that he was a tribal deity, adorned by the Sabar people, as a symbol of Narayan. Another legend claims him to be Nilamadhava, an image of Narayana made of blue stone and worshipped by the aboriginals. He was brought to Nilagiri (blue mountain) or Nilachala and installed there as Shri Jagannath in company with Balabhadra and Subhadra. The images made of wood are also claimed to have their distant linkage with the aboriginal system of worshipping wooden poles. To cap it all the Daitapatis, who have a fair share of responsibilities to perform rituals of the Temple, are claimed to be descendants of the aboriginals or hill tribes of Orissa. So we may safely claim that the beginning of the cultural history of Shrikshetra is found in the fusion of Hindu and Tribal Cultures. This has been accepted as a facet of our proud heritage. The three deities came to be claimed as the symbols of Samyak Darshan, Samyak Jnana and Samyak Charita usually regarded as Triratha (of the Jain cult), an assimilation of which leads to Moksha (salvation) or the ultimate bliss...

Jagannath is worshipped as Vishnu or Narayana or Krishna and Lord Balabhadra as Shesha. Simultaneously, the deities are regarded as the bhairava with Vimala (the devi or the consort of Shiva) installed in the campus of the temple. So ultimately we find a fusion of Saivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism of the Hindu religion with Jainism and up to an extent Buddhism in the culture of Jagannath and the cultural tradition so reverently held together in Shrikshetra.

Acharyas and Jagannatha Puri[edit]

The Singhadwara, the main entrance to the temple

All of the renowned acharyas except Madhvacharya have been known to visit this kshetra. Adi Shankara established his Govardhana matha here. There is also evidence that Guru Nanak, Kabir, Tulsidas, Ramanujacharya, and Nimbarkacharya had visited this place. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of Gaudiya Vaishnavism stayed here for 24 years, establishing that the love of god can be spread by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. Srimad Vallabhacharya visited Jagannath Puri and performed a 7 day recitation of Srimad Bhagvat. His sitting place is still famous as "baithakji." It confirms his visit to Puri.[25] A famous incident took place when Vallabhachrya visited. There was a discourse being held between the Brahmins and 4 questions were asked. Who is the highest of Gods, What is the highest of mantras, What is the highest scripture and What is the highest service. The discourse went on for many days with many schools of thought. Finally Shri Vallabh said to ask Lord Jagannath to confirm Shri Vallabh's answers. A pen and paper were left in the inner sanctum. After some time, the doors were opened and 4 answers were written. 1) The Son of Devaki (Krishna) is the God of Gods 2) His name is the highest of mantras 3) His song is the highest scripture (Bhagavat Geeta) 4) Service to Him is the Highest service. The king was shocked and declared Shri Vallabh the winner of the discourse. Some of the pandits who participated became jealous of Shri Vallabh and wanted to test Him. The next day was Ekadashi, a fasting day where one must fast from grains. The pandits gave Shri Vallabh rice Prasad of Shri Jagannathji (The temple is famous for this). If Shri Vallabh ate it, He would break His vow of fasting but if He did not take it, He would disrespect Lord Jagannath. Shri Vallabh accepted the prasad in his hand and spent the rest of the day and night explaining slokas of the greatness of Prasad and ate the rice the next morning.

Char Dham[edit]

Char Dham

Badrinath temple.jpgRameswaram Gopuram.jpgDwarkadheesh temple.jpgTemple-Jagannath.jpg

BadrinathRameswaram
DwarkaPuri

The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka.[26] Though the origins are not clearly known, the Advaita school of Hinduism propagated by Sankaracharya, who created Hindu monastic institutions across India, attributes the origin of Char Dham to the seer.[27] The four monasteries lie across the four corners of India and their attendant temples are Badrinath Temple at Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Temple at Puri in the East, Dwarakadheesh Temple at Dwarka in the West and Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram in the South. Though ideologically the temples are divided between the sects of Hinduism, namely Saivism and Vaishnavism, the Char Dham pilgrimage is an all Hindu affair.[28] There are four abodes in Himalayas called Chota Char Dham (Chota meaning small): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri - all of these lie at the foot hills of Himalayas [29] The name Chota was added during the mid of 20th century to differentiate the original Char Dhams.[citation needed] The journey across the four cardinal points in India is considered sacred by Hindus who aspire to visit these temples once in their lifetime.[30] Traditionally the trip starts at the eastern end from Puri, proceeding in clockwise direction in a manner typically followed for circumambulation in Hindu temples.[30]

Structure[edit]

Ratha Yatra Festival in Puri. Painting by James Fergusson

The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2), and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. This 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri.[31] Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple.[32] It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India.[33] The temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely -

  1. Deula, Vimana or Garba griha (Sanctum sanctorum) where the triad deities are lodged on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls). In Rekha Deula style;
  2. Mukhashala (Frontal porch);
  3. Nata mandir/Natamandapa, which is also known as the Jagamohan (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall), and
  4. Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall).[34]

The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the 'srichakra' (a eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the "Nilachakra", it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct.[35] Among the existing temples in Orissa, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.[36]

Nila Chakra[edit]

The Nila Chakra atop Jagannath Temple

The Nila Chakra (Blue Discus) is the discus mounted on the top shikhar of the Jagannath Temple. As per custom, everyday a different flag is waved on the Nila Chakra. The flag hoisted on the Nila Cakra is called the Patita Pavana (Purifier of the Fallen) and is equivalent to the image of the deities placed in the sanctum sanctorum [2].

The Nila Chakra is a disc with eight Navagunjaras carved on the outer circumference, with all facing towards the flagpost above. It is made of alloy of eight metals (Asta-dhatu) and is 3.5 Metres (11 feet and 8 inches) high with a circumference of about 11 metres (36 feet). [3]. During the year 2010, the Nila Chakra was repaired and restored by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Nila Chakra is distinct from the Sudarshana chakra which has been placed with the deities in the inner sanctorum.

Nila Chakra is the most revered iconic symbol in the Jagannath cult. The Nila Chakra is the only physical object whose markings are used as sacrament and considered sacred in Jagannath worship. It symbolizes protection by Shri Jagannath.

The Singhadwara[edit]

The Bada Danda or the Grand Avenue
The Singhadwara in 1870 showing the Lion sculptures with the Aruna Stambha Pillar in the foreground

The Singahdwara, which in Sanskrit means The Lion Gate, is one of the four gates to the temple and forms the Main entrance. The Singhadwara is so named because two huge statues of crouching lions exist on either side of the entrance. The gate faces east opening on to the Bada Danda or the Grand Road.[37] The Baisi Pahacha or the flight of twenty two steps leads into the temple complex. An idol of Jagannath known as Patitapavana, which in Sanskrit, means the "Saviour of the downtrodden and the fallen" is painted on the right side of the entrance. In ancient times when untouchables were not allowed inside the temple, they could pray to Patita Pavana. The statues of the two guards to the temple Jaya and Vijaya stand on either side of the doorway.[38] Just before the commencement of the Rath Yatra the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out of the temple through this gate. On their return from the Gundicha Temple they have to ceremonially placate Goddess Mahalakshmi, whose statue is carved atop the door, for neglecting to take her with them on the Yatra. Only then the Goddess allows them permission to enter the temple. A magnificent sixteen-sided monolithic pillar known as the Arun stambha stands in front of the main gate. This pillar has an idol of Arun, the charioteer of the Sun God Surya, on its top. One significant thing about Arun stambha is that prior it was located in the Konark Sun temple,[39][40] later, the Maratha guru Brahmachari Gosain brought this pillar from Konark.[41] The Puri Jagannath Temple was also saved by Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj from being plundered at his times from the Mughals.

Other Entrances[edit]

The Ashwadwara Gate

Apart from the Singhadwara, which is the main entrance to the temple, there are three other entrances facing north, south and west. They are named after the sculptures of animals guarding them. The other entrances are the Hathidwara or the Elephant Gate, the Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate and the Ashwadwara or the Horse Gate.[42]

Minor Temples[edit]

Cluster of minor temples in the southern part of Jagannath temple complex, including the Vimala Temple (extreme right). c. 1890.

There are numerous smaller temples and shrines within the Temple complex where active worship is regularly conducted. The Vimala Temple (Bimala Temple) is considered one of the most important of the Shaktipeeths marks the spot where the goddess Sati's feet fell. It is located near Rohini Kund in the temple complex. Until food offered to Jagannath is offered to Goddess Vimala it is not considered Mahaprasad.

The temple of Mahalakshmi has an important role in rituals of the main temple. It is said that preparation of naivedya as offering for Jagannath is supervised by Mahalakshmi. The Kanchi Ganesh Temple is dedicated to Uchhista Ganapati. Tradition says the King of Kanchipuram (Kanchi) in ancient times gifted the idol, when Gajapati Purushottama Deva married Padmavati, the kanchi princess. There are other shrines namely Muktimandap, Surya, Saraswati, Bhuvaneshwari, Narasimha, Rama, Hanuman and Eshaneshwara.

The Mandapas[edit]

The Dola Mandapa in 1890 where the annual Dol Yatra is held

There are many Mandapas or Pillared halls on raised platforms within the temple complex meant for religious congregations. The most prominent is the Mukti Mandapa the congregation hall of the holy seat of selected learned brahmins.[43] Here important decisions regarding conduct of daily worship and festivals are taken. The Dola Mandapa is noteworthy for a beautifully carved stone Torana or arch which is used for constructing a swing for the annual Dol Yatra festival. During the festival the idol of Dologobinda is placed on the swing. The Snana Bedi is a rectangular stone platform where idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are placed for ceremonial bathing during the annual Snana Yatra

Daily Food Offerings[edit]

Daily offerings are made to the Lord six times a day. These include:

  1. The offering to the Lord in the Morning that forms His breakfast and is called The Gopala Vallabha Bhoga. Breakfast is a seven item treat - Khua, Lahuni, sweetened coconut grating, coconut water, and popcorn sweetened with sugar known as khai and curd and ripe bananas.
  2. The Sakala Dhupa forms his next offering at about 10 O’ clock in the morning Sakala Dhupa. This generally consists of 13 items including the Enduri cake & Mantha puli.
  3. Bada Sankhudi Bhoga forms the next repast & the offering consists of Pakhala with dahi and Kanji payas. The offerings are made in the bhog mandapa, about 200 feet from the Ratna Vedi. This is called Chatra Bhog and was introduced by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century to help pilgrims share the temple food.
  4. The Madhyanha dhupa forms the next offering at the noon.
  5. The next offering to the Lord is made in the evening at around 8 o’clock it is Sandhya Dhupa.
  6. The last offering to the Lord is called the Bada Simhara Bhoga.[44]

The Mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath are distributed amongst the devotees near the Ratnavedi inside the frame of Phokaria, which is being drawn by the Puja pandas using Muruj, except for the Gopal Ballav Bhog and Bhog Mandap Bhoga which are distributed in the Anabsar Pindi & Bhoga Mandap respectively.

Mahaprasad (Large)

The temple's kitchen is considered as the largest kitchen in the world.[33] [45] [46] [47] Tradition maintains that all food cooked in the temple kitchens are supervised by the Goddess Mahalakshmi, the empress of Srimandir herself. It is said that if the food prepared has any fault in it, a shadow dog appears near the temple kitchen. The temple cooks, or Mahasuaras, take this as a sign of displeasure of Mahalakshmi with the food, which is, then, promptly buried and a new batch cooked.[48] All food is cooked following rules as prescribed by Hindu religious texts, the food cooked is pure vegetarian without using onions and garlic.[49] Cooking is done only in earthen pots with water drawn from two special wells near the kitchen called Ganges and Yamuna. There are a total of 56 varieties of naivedhyas offered to the deities, near ratnavedi as well as in bhoga mandap on five particular Muhurta. The most awaited prasad is kotho bhoga or abadha, offered at mid-day at around 1 pm, depending upon temple rituals. The food after being offered to Jagannath is distributed in reasonable portions as Mahaprasad, which is considered to be divine by the devotees in the Ananda Bazar (located to the North-east of the Singhadwara inside the temple complex).

Festivals[edit]

Devotees visiting the Jagannath Temple in Puri on the occasion of Snana Yatra

There are elaborate daily worship services. There are many festivals each year attended by millions of people. The most important festival is the Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival in June. This spectacular festival includes a procession of three huge chariots bearing the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the Bada Danda meaning the Grand Avenue of Puri till their final destination the Gundicha Temple.[50]

Suna Vesha or Golden Attire of Lord Jagannath

Early European observers told tales of devotees being crushed under the wheels of these chariots, whether by accident or even as a form of meritorious suicide akin to suttee. These reports gave rise to the loan word juggernaut suggesting an immense, unstoppable, threatening entity or process operated by fanatics. Many festivals like Dol Yatra in spring and Jhulan Yatra in monsoon are celebrated by temple every year.Pavitrotsava and Damanaka utsava are celebrated as per panchanga or panjika.There are special ceremonies in the month of Kartika and Pausha.

The annual shodasha dinatmaka or 16 day puja beginning 8 days prior to Mahalaya of Ashwin month for goddess Vimala and ending on Vijayadashami, is of great importance, in which both the utsava murty of lord Madanmohan and Vimala take part.

Rath Yatra at Puri[edit]

Main article: Ratha-Yatra (Puri)

The Jagannath triad are usually worshiped in the sanctum of the temple at Puri, but once during the month of Asadha (Rainy Season of Orissa, usually falling in month of June or July), they are brought out onto the Bada Danda (main street of Puri) and travel (3 km) to the Shri Gundicha Temple, in huge chariots (ratha), allowing the public to have darśana (Holy view). This festival is known as Rath Yatra, meaning the journey (yatra) of the chariots (ratha). The Rathas are huge wheeled wooden structures, which are built anew every year and are pulled by the devotees. The chariot for Jagannath is approximately 45 feet high and 35 feet square and takes about 2 months to construct.[52] The artists and painters of Puri decorate the cars and paint flower petals and other designs on the wheels, the wood-carved charioteer and horses, and the inverted lotuses on the wall behind the throne.[53] The huge chariots of Jagannath pulled during Rath Yatra is the etymological origin of the English word Juggernaut.[54] The Ratha-Yatra is also termed as the Shri Gundicha yatra.

Pahandi bije during Ratha Yatra at Puri

The most significant ritual associated with the Ratha-Yatra is the chhera pahara." During the festival, the Gajapati King wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots in the Chera Pahara (sweeping with water) ritual. The Gajapati King cleanses the road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion. As per the custom, although the Gajapati King has been considered the most exalted person in the Kalingan kingdom, he still renders the menial service to Jagannath. This ritual signified that under the lordship of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King and the most humble devotee.[55]

Chera pahara is held on two days, on the first day of the Ratha Yatra, when the deities are taken to garden house at Mausi Maa Temple and again on the last day of the festival, when the deities are ceremoniously brought back to the Shri Mandir.

As per another ritual, when the deities are taken out from the Shri Mandir to the Chariots in Pahandi vijay.

In the Ratha Yatra, the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple in the chariots to the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days. Thereafter, the deities again ride the chariots back to Shri Mandir in bahuda yatra. On the way back, the three chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple and the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake which are generally consumed by the poor sections only.

The observance of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath dates back to the period of the Puranas. Vivid descriptions of this festival are found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana. Kapila Samhita also refers to Rath Yatra. In Moghul period also, King Ramsingh of Jaipur, Rajasthan has been described as organizing the Rath Yatra in the 18th Century. In Orissa, Kings of Mayurbhanj and Parlakhemundi were organizing the Rath Yatra, though the most grand festival in terms of scale and popularity takes place at Puri.

Moreover, Starza[56] notes that the ruling Ganga dynasty instituted the Rath Yatra at the completion of the great temple around 1150 AD. This festival was one of those Hindu festivals that was reported to the Western world very early. Friar Odoric of Pordenone visited India in 1316-1318, some 20 years after Marco Polo had dictated the account of his travels while in a Genoese prison.[57] In his own account of 1321, Odoric reported how the people put the "idols" on chariots, and the King and Queen and all the people drew them from the "church" with song and music.[58] [59]

Chandan Yatra[edit]

Main article: Chandan Yatra

In Akshaya Tritiya every year the Chandan Yatra festival marks the commencement of the construction of the Chariots of the Rath Yatra.

Snana Purnima[edit]

Main article: Snana Purnima

On the Purnima of the month of Jyestha the Gods are ceremonially bathed and decorated every year on the occasion of Snana Yatra.

Anavasara or Anasara[edit]

The backside of the Jagannath temple with the Koili Baikuntha garden in the foreground

Literally means vacation. Every year, the main idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra & Sudarshan after the holy Snana Yatra on the jyestha purnima, go to a secret altar named Anavasara Ghar where they remain for the next dark fortnight (Krishna paksha). Hence devotees are not allowed to view them. Instead of this devotees go to nearby place Brahmagiri to see their beloved lord in the form of four handed form Alvarnath a form of Vishnu.[60] Then people get the first glimpse of lord on the day before Rath Yatra, which is called 'Navayouvana. It is said that the gods fall in fever after taking a huge bath and they are treated by the special servants named, Daitapatis for 15 days. During this period cooked food is not offered to the deities.[61]

Nava Kalevara[edit]

Main article: Nabakalevara

One of the most grandiloquent events associated with the Lord Jagannath, Naba Kalabera takes place when one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha. This can take place in 8, 12 or even 18 years. Literally meaning the “New Body” (Nava = New, Kalevar = Body), the festival is witnessed by as millions of people and the budget for this event exceeds $500,000. The event involves installation of new images in the temple and burial of the old ones in the temple premises at Koili Vaikuntha. The idols that are currently being worshipped in the temple premises were installed in the year 1996.Next ceremony will be held on 2015.[62] More than 3 million devotees are expected to visit the temple during the Nabakalevara of 2015[63] making it one of the most visited festivals in the world.

Niladri Bije[edit]

Golden Attire of the God Balabhadra on his chariot

Celebrated on Asadha Trayodashi.[64] Niladri Bije is the concluding day of Ratha yatra. On this day deities return to the ratna bedi.[65] [66] Lord Jagannath offers Rasgulla to goddess Laxmi to enter in to the temple.[67] [68]

Gupta Gundicha[edit]

Celebrated for 16 days from Ashwina Krushna dwitiya to Vijayadashami.[69] As per tradition, the idol of Madhaba, along with the idol of Goddess Durga (known as Durgamadhaba), is taken on a tour of the temple premises. The tour within the temple is observed for the first eight days. For the next eight days, the idols are taken outside the temple on a palanquin to the nearby Narayani temple situated in the Dolamandapa lane. After their worship, they are brought back to the temple.[70]

The name Purushottama Kshetra and Its Significance[edit]

Puri Shri Jagannath Temple from a lane nearby

Lord Jagannath is the Purushottama as per the scripture, Skanda Purana. In order to teach human beings how to lead a life full of virtue, he has taken the form of Saguna Brahman or Darubrahman. He is the best brother to his siblings, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra. He is the best husband to goddess Shri. The most noteworthy aspect is still in the month of Margashirsha, on three consecutive days during amavasya he does Shraddha to his parents (Kashyapa-Aditi, Dasharatha-Kaushalya, Vasudeva-Devaki, Nanda-Yashoda), along with the king Indradyumna and queen Gundicha. As a master he enjoys every comfort daily and in various festivals. He grants all wishes to his subjects, and those who surrender before him he takes the utmost care of.

Culture and Tradition of Puri[edit]

A sketch of the Jagannath temple dating back to 1815

Puri is one of the fascinating littoral districts of Orissa. The Cultural heritage of Puri with its long recorded history has its beginnings in the third century B.C. The monuments, religious sanctity, and way of life of the people with their rich tradition is the cultural heart of Orissa. Indeed, Puri is considered the cultural capital of Orissa. The culture here flourished with its manifold activities.

The District has the happy conglomerate of different religions, sects and faith. In the course of history, Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh are found here in the District.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, appeared 500 years ago, in the mood of a devotee to taste the sublime emotions of ecstasy by chanting the holy name of Krishna. Stalwart scholars of Puri like Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya (a priest & great Sanskrit pandit) and others followed His teachings. Even kings and ministers of His period became His disciples. Especially King Prataparudra became His great admirer and ardent follower. Thus all cultures and religion became one in Puri after his teachings were given to all with no consideration of caste and creed.

Security[edit]

The security at the 12th century Jagannath Temple is increased ahead of Ratha Yatra, the homecoming festival of the deities of Jagannath temple. In the wake of terror alert on 27 June 2012, the security forces were increased to ensure smooth functioning of the crowded Ratha Yatra and Suna Besha.[71]

References[edit]

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Notes[edit]

External links[edit]