Puri Jagannath
Rath Yatra

By Tamarapu Sampath Kumaran

About the Author: Mr T Sampath Kumaran is a freelance writer. He regularly contributes articles on Management, Business, Ancient Temples, and Temple Architecture to many leading Dailies and Magazines. His articles are popular in “The Young World section” of THE HINDU His e-books on nature, environment, festivals and different cultures of people around the world are educative and of special interest to the young. His e-books – Guide to 108 Divya Desams, Guide to 275 Siva Sthalams, Ganesha, Muruga, Pilgrimage to Narasimhaswami shetrams, Tirupati Gangamma, Vision of Sri Madhwacharya and Guru Raghavendra, The Path of Ramanuja, Guide to Kancheepuram, Hanuman and Hinduism in a nutshell have been well received in the religious circle. He was associated in the renovation and production of two Documentary films on Nava Tirupathi Temples, and Tirukkurungudi Temple in Tamilnadu.

Acknowledgement: I wish to express my gratitude to the authors from whose works I gathered the details for this book, and Jagannath Temple authorities and Courtesy, Google for some of the photographs. Special thanks to www.scribd.com for hosting my e-books.

Nestling on the eastern coast along the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal the unique State of Orissa offers to her guests a 'tourism capsule' containing magnificent temples, sunny beaches, colourful wildlife, traditional tribal culture and a rich heritage. The temple of Lord Jagannath ('Lord of the Universe') - (Oriya language: ବଡେଦଉଳ, ଶୀମନିର) at Puri is a living and vibrant temple and one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India. It is being considered by Hindus as one of the four abodes dhamas of the divine that lie on the four directions of the compass.

After the beautiful jagannath temple the city came to be known as Jagannaatha puri. The name Jagannath - Lord of the Universe, is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat (Universe) and Nath (Lord of). The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshippers of Krishna and Vishnu, and one of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu has to visit in one's lifetime. The glory of the place is enhanced by the famous Ratha Jatra festival taking place each year, taking one to pure heavenly experience. The city is shaped like the silhouette of a conch shell, which bears the spiritual significance of Jagannath Puri being the abode of the Godhead Vishnu, who carries a conch shell as part of his eternal paraphernalia. In the center of the conch shell

silhouette there is a portion of raised ground called Nilgiri or "the blue hill." On the crest of Nilgiri stands an imposing temple complex dedicated to Vishnu as Jagannath, "the Maintainer of the Universe." There are a number works in Sanskrit which sing the glories of Orissa in general and of Puri in particular. A passage is frequently quoted from the Rg Veda and explained in the light of the well-known commentary of Sayana to show that the history of Jagannath dates back to the age of the Rig Veda itself. The Puranas present elaborate accounts pertaining to the origin of Jagannath in an atmosphere of mystery and divine inspiration. Prominent among the Puranas are the Skanda Purana, the Brahma Purana and the Narada Purana. Even in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, there are references to the shrine of Jagannath. The Pandavas of the Mahabharata are believed to have come here and offered worship to Jagannath. Though historians have been trying to unveil the mystery of the three deities namely, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra worshipped in the Puri temple, reliable materials in historical form are available from the 9th century A.D. when Sankaracarya visited Puri and founded the Govardhana Matha as the eastern dhama of India. The temple was built in the 11th century atop its ruins by the progenitor of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, grandson of the Chola emperor Kulothanga Chola I. The temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra, in which the three main temple deities are carried on huge and elaborately decorated chariots. Legendary account as found in the Skanda Purana, and later Oriya works state that Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped as Lord Neela Madhav by a Savar king (tribal chief) named Viswavasu. The Appearance of Lord Jagannath The significance of Jagannath Puri and the story of how the Deities first appeared go back to many hundreds of years to the time of King Indradyumna, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. It is related that one time in his court, the King heard from a devotee about the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, named Nila-madhava. Eager to see this form of the Supreme the King sent many Brahmins to search for Nila-madhava. While all of them came back unsuccessfully one Vidyapati, did not return. He had wandered to

a distant town which was populated by the tribal people known as Shabaras of non-Aryan heritage. He had stayed in the house of Visvasu, and later, at Visvasu's request, married his daughter, Lalita. After some time Vidyapati noticed that Visvasu would leave the house every night and return at noon the next day. Vidyapati asked his wife about this. Though her father had ordered her not to tell anyone, she told Vidyapati that Visvasu would go in secret to worship Nila-madhava. Though reluctant, afar repeated requests, Viswasu agreed to take Vidyapati to go and see Nila-madhava, on condition that he should follow blindfolded. But Vidyapati's wife had bound some mustard seeds in his cloth so that a trail could be left to follow later. When they reached the shrine, after Visvasu took off the blindfold Vidyapati saw the Deity Nila-madhava, and he felt great ecstasy. In the meantime while Visvasu was out collecting items for worship, Vidyapati saw a bird fall into the nearby lake and drown. The soul of the bird suddenly took a spiritual form and ascended back to the spiritual world. Vidyapati too wanted to do the same and climbed the tree to jump in the lake. Then a voice from the sky declared that before he jumped he should tell Indradyumna that he had found Nila-madhava. When Visvasu returned to worship the Deity, Nila-madhava spoke and said that He had accepted the simple worship from him for so many days, but now he wanted to accept the opulent worship that would be offered by King Indradyumna. When Vidyapati went back and conveyed the location of Nilamadhava to the King, Indradyumna immediately rushed to the remote location to find Nila-madhava. He was disappointed in not being able to locate Nila-madhava. Enraged with the disappointment the King arrested Visvasu, but a voice told him to release Visvasu and that he should build a temple on top of Nila Hill where the King would see the Lord as Darubrahman, the wooden manifestation of the Absolute.

(Jagannatha is worshipped as Daru 'Brahma.' Daru in Sanskrit means wood or timber and Brahma means the all pervading soul, the universal life force, the God of gods. It has been said that the idol of Jagannatha is made of a log of wood of the margosa tree, the trunk of which is used to fabricate the body of Jagannatha. But it is not merely this log of wood or the image that is worshipped with so much of reverence. What is known as Brahma in Jagannatha is something unseen: that is there in his body. In that part of the log of wood which represents the substance of the image, there is a cavity wherein a casket containing something unknown has been kept. Thus, that Daru or the wooden image containing this Brahma is called Daru Brahma.) After great endeavor, King Indradyumna built the temple of 1,000 cubits high at Sri Kshetra, now known as Jagannath Puri, and later prayed to Lord Brahma to consecrate it. However, Lord Brahma said that it was not within his power to consecrate the temple since Sri Kshetra is manifested by the Supreme's own internal potency where the Lord manifests Himself. So

Brahma simply put a flag on top of the temple and blessed it, saying that anyone who from a distance saw the flag and offered obeisance would easily be liberated from the material world. . It is believed that Lord Brahma performed a sacrifice where the present temple now stands and installed a Deity of Lord Narasimhadeva, the Deity that is now on the western side of the temple. Brahma asked Indradyumna as to in what way he can fulfill the king's desire, since he was very much pleased 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 me, he would only take pride as the owner of the temple and would not work for the society”. After much waiting the King became anxious since Nila-madhava had not manifested Himself, the King decided he should end his life by fasting. But in a dream the Lord said that He would appear floating in from the sea in His form as Daru-brahman., in the form of wood. The King went to the shore and found a huge piece of wood that had the markings of a conch, disc, club, and lotus. This was Daru-brahman. But in spite of great efforts the king’s men could not budge the wood. In a dream the Lord spoke to the King and instructed him to get Visvasu and put a golden chariot in front of Darubrahman. After doing this and forming a kirtana party to chant the holy names, and praying for Daru-brahman to mount the chariot, Daru-brahman was easily moved The King requested many expert carvers to carve the form of the Deity from the wooden Daru-brahman, but none could do so for their chisels broke immediately when they touched the wood. Finally the architect of the demigods, Visvakarma, arrived as an old artist, Ananta Maharana. He promised that he would carve the Deity form of the Lord inside the temple in three weeks, if the King would allow him to work behind closed doors. After 14 days the King became very anxious because he could no longer hear the sounds of the carving and finally he could stand it no more. On the advice of the queen he personally opened the doors of the temple to see what was happening. There he saw the forms of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama, and Lady Subhadra unfinidhed and the visvakarma missing. Because the King had opened the doors sooner than he was supposed to, the Deities were not completed. Their feet and hands had not yet been carved. Thus, the Supreme manifested Himself in this form.

The King felt he had committed a great offense for having opened the doors before the allotted three weeks had passed, and decided to end his life. But in a dream Lord Jagannath told the King that though he had broken his promise, this was just a part of the Supreme's pastimes to display this particular form. The King was told that this form, even though it appeared to be incomplete, was actually the form of the Lord that was meant to be worshiped in this age of Kali-yuga, and to satisfy himself occasionally the

King could decorate the Deity with golden hands and feet. Yet those devotees filled with love would always see the form of Lord Jagannath as the threefold bending form of Syamasundara Krishna, holding a flute as He rides through town during the Ratha-Yatra festival. There is another legend surrounding the origin of the temple. The traditional story concerning the origins of the temple is that the original image of Jagannath at the end of Krita 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, and hence the god of Dharma or Yama wanted to hide it in the earth, and was successful. In Dvapara Yuga King Indradyumna of Malwaa wanted to find that mysterious image and to do so he performed harsh penance 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 Narayan 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.

Legend of appearance of the presiding deity: Once in Dwarka, mother Rohini was requested to narrate the divine episodes of the Lord with the Gopis when He was in Vraj. Mother Rohini agreed but considering it unbecoming of Subhadra to hear such episodes (Leela), she sent her to guard the palace doorway. At that time Krishna and Balarama arrived at the doorway. With arms wide apart, Subhadra sood between the two brothers preventing them from entering the palace. However, from where they stood Rohini's katha soon engrossed them all. Just then, sage Narada arrived. Seeing the three (Krishna, Subhadra and Balarama) standing together like murtis, he humbly prayed: May thee the three of you grant darsan in this manner forever. The Lord granted the boon. And the three eternally reside in this form in Jagannath Mandir in Puri. Jagannath and Balabadra protect the King. There was a king named Purusottama Deva in the Gonga Dynasty who ruled over the state of Orissa. He was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. He considered lord Jagannath as the owner of everything. Once the King went on a tour to South India. He reached a kingdom called Kanchi, and set up his tent in a garden in the capital city. There King Purusottama Deva met Padmavati the Princess of Kanchi, and both came to

know and fell in love. Coming to know of their love, the King of Kanchi invited King Purushottama Deva to the palace. Pleased with Purusottama Deva, the King proposed to offer his daughter in marriage to him. Purusottama Deva was very happy with this proposal, and accepted gladly. He then returned to Orissa. After some time, the King of Kanchi sent his minister to Orissa with an official proposal of marriage for his daughter. The minister was received with due honours by King Purusottama Deva. It was the time of Ratha-yatra, which was a favorite time of year for the King. The marriage proposal only added to his happiness. King Purusottama Deva requested the minister of Kanchi to stay a few days more so that he could attend the Ratha-yatra festival. The minister saw that it was a good opportunity to experience the festival, and agreed to remain in Puri for the yatra. On the Ratha-yatra day, at the auspicious time the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Lady Subhadra along with Sudarshan Chakra, were brought from the temple to the chariots. Thousands of people had gathered to see the parade, and there was a tumultuous sound of kirtans, drums, and conch shells. The minister of Kanchi saw the King Purushottama Deva standing in front of the chariot with a broom in his hand. As he started to sweep the road, the minister became confused to find a great king sweeping the road like a common man. Although the King was doing it for the Lord, the minister could not understand the greatness of the service. He considered this behavior an insult to a king, as sweeping the road was the duty of a chandala. The minister immediately left Puri and returned to Kanchi, informing the King of all he had witnessed, especially how Purusottama Deva engaged in the behavior of a chandala. The minister expressed his displeasure of Purushottama Deva being accepted as the son-in-law by the King. The King, without understanding the purpose of Purusottama Deva's behavior, agreed with his minister, and sent a message to Puri telling Purusottama Deva that he did not want his daughter to marry a man who sweeps the road like a chandala. This news saddened both Purusottama Deva and Princess Padmavati. Even more upsetting to them was the fact that the King of Kanchi, in the meantime, had arranged Princess Padmavati’s swayamvara ceremony and had invited every suitable prince in the region except the King of Puri. Purusottama Deva was very much offended by this act, and vowed to take revenge upon the King of Kanchi. He challenged the King of Kanchi to war. The King of Kanchi was a great worshipper of Ganesh, and he made one condition before entering the battle. Should the King of Puri be

defeated, he should surrender the deities of Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra, to be placed behind Ganesh on the King of Kanchi's altar. Similarly, if the King of Kanchi was defeated, he would surrender his deity of Ganesh, to be placed behind Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra in Puri temple. Purusottama Deva was forced to leave the battlefield when his camp caught on fire, and he felt it was a great insult. He was immediately concerned that he would lose the deities from the Jagannath temple, and that they would be placed behind Ganesh in Kanchi. The King began to pray to Lord Jagannath: "O Lord Jagannath! Please help me. Due to being engaged in Your service of sweeping the road, the King of Kanchi has insulted me and cancelled my marriage. If I am defeated in this battle, is it not also Your defeat? It is a great insult to You! How can You, the Lord of the universe, sit behind the deity of Ganesh?" That night, Lord Jagannath appeared to the King in his sleep and told him, not to be worried. He suggested to go again to fight with the King of Kanchi and his army and assured that he will personally help him during the battle. The King awoke, and became encouraged to fight again with the King of Kanchi. King Purusottama Deva started his journey to Kanchi to fight for the second time.

This time disguised as soldiers, jagannath rode a black horse and Baladeva rode on a white horse ahead of the army unnoticed by anyone to fight on behalf of the king. Being the summer month of Vaisakhi and the weather being hot, they were thirsty. They noticed an old cowherd lady carrying a pot of buttermilk on her head. Her name was Manika, and she was on her

way to the market to sell the buttermilk. Both the Lords wanting to drink buttermilk, stopped the old lady and drank to their hearts' content. When they finished, they prepared to leave and continue their journey. The old lady Manika stopped them and asked them for money. Saying that they are soldiers on their way to a battle Jagannath leaned down from His horse and gave Manika a golden ring from His finger and asked her to keep it with her, and exchange it for the money when their king passes by that way. Reluctantly, the old lady took the ring, and the brothers continued on their journey to the battle. The old lady Manika stood on the roadside awaiting the King's arrival. After some time she saw the king approaching with his army. Manika stopped the King and said to him, "Two of your soldiers were going by this road riding a black horse and a white horse. They looked like brothers. They drank my buttermilk but had no money to pay for it." She held her upturned palm towards the King, and showing him the golden ring she said "They gave this ring to me to give to you, and to collect the money for the buttermilk in exchange for this ring. Please take this ring and give me the cost of the buttermilk”. When the King saw the ring he was very surprised as it was not an ordinary gold ring, but of Lord Jagannath's diamond ring. Then he understood that both the Lords had gone to Kanchi in the form of soldiers to keep up Jagannath's promise. The King saw this as confirmation that victory would be his, and he was very happy. He told Monika, "You were very fortunate to have seen Lord Jagannath and Lord Balaram and to serve them by giving them buttermilk. I will of course reimburse you as the Lord requested." The King was feeling so magnanimous due to having the Lords fighting in his army that he generously rewarded the woman ownership of several villages so that she could live comfortably. The King immediately established a village at the very spot the Lords partook of her buttermilk, and named the village Manika Patana. (This village is still there in Orissa). The King proceeded towards Kanchi. A huge battle took place between the soldiers. The soldiers of the King of Kanchi saw two new soldiers in Purusottama Deva's army who fought so vigorously that no one was able to defeat them. Many soldiers from the army of the King of Kanchi were killed, and the King of Kanchi was defeated. Purusottama Deva arrested Princess Padmavati instead of the King of Kanchi, and in revenge for the cancellation of his marriage to the princess, planned to arrange to marry her to a chandala, a road sweeper. He called for his minister and ordered him to look for one chandala boy to marry Princess Padmavati. Princess Padmavati was

sad, because she had real affection for King Purusottama Deva. She knew he was acting out of revenge for her father’s actions. But King Purusottama Deva minister was very clever. He advised the King to be patient, as it would take some time to find a suitable chandala boy to marry the princess. In the meantime, the minister took Padmavati and gave her shelter at his house. As the Ratha-yatra day was approaching thousands of people were coming happily to Pun for the festival. But Princess Padmavati was not happy as she was thinking always of her upcoming marriage to a chandala. On the Ratha-yatra day, the minister came to Padmavati and told here that she should get dressed in her finest cloth to be got married, and advised her to rely on Lord Jagannath who will come to her rescue.

As everything was ready for the Ratha-yatra, the King of Puri walked in front of Lord Jagannath's chariot, carrying in his hand a golden broom to sweep the road. With devotion and pleasure he started sweeping the road. When Purusottama Deva finished sweeping, the minister brought Princess Padmavati to the King, and very cleverly said to him, "My dear King, I asked you to be patient in finding a suitable chandala for the Princess. I have come to you today to tell you that I have found a street sweeper whom I have deemed suitable to be her husband." The King said to his minister, "Very well, but I don't have time for this. Today is Ratha-yatra. Do as you will." The minister smiled at the King and replied, "But my dear King, the street sweeper I have chosen is you, Your Highness." The King stopped and looked in surprise at his minister, with a smile coming to his lips. The minister continued, "Your Highness, today you are a street sweeper. You instructed me to arrange the marriage of Princess Padmavati with a street sweeper, so I have chosen you." With that, the minister ordered Princess Padmavati to place a garland around the neck of King Purusottama Deva. The King happily accepted Princess Padmavati as his queen, and praised his minister for his sneaky intelligence Then Maharaja Purusottama Dev

married the princess and she later gave birth to a great devotee of Lord Caitanya, who became known as King Prataparudra. According to the conditions set down by the King of Kanchi, the deity of Ganesh was brought to Puri and kept in a temple behind Jagannaths temple. The deities of Sri Sri Radha-Radhakanta which are worshiped at Gambhira were also brought from Kanchipuram. It is said that they were also worshipped in Jagannaths temple. These deities were worshipped on an altar that was located between Jagannath's altar and the room where the bhoga is prepared. The Jagannath temple cooks are experts at making so many nice varieties of foodstuffs for the Lord. After Sri Radha-Radhakanta came to stay in the temple, Lord Jagannath found that so many nice items were not being given to Him regularly. Lord Jagannath discovered that the deities of Sri RadhaRadhakanta, were eating all the nice foods that had been brought to the temple and prepared in the bhoga room. Upon this time Lord Jagannath instructed the pujaris to shift the deities to Kasi Mishra's house, which is

now known as Gambhira, where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed for eighteen years and also worshiped these same deities of Sri Sri RadhaRadhakanta.

Ratha-Yatra Jatra is an essential part of the ritual of the Hindu system of worship. Jatra literally means travel or journey. Normally, the representative of the presiding deities of the temple more popularly known as Chalanti Pratima or Bije Pratima in Orissa, partake in these journeys. There are elaborate daily worship services. There are many festivals each year attended by thousands of people. The most important festival is the Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival in June. The festival is also known as Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra, Dasavatara Jatra and by a variety of other names. For the devoted and believers, it is considered the most auspicious occasion. The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages.

In fact, there is a famous Oriya song which says that on this occasion, the chariot, the wheels, the grand avenue all become one with Lord Jagannatha himself. Rathe tu vamanam drishtwa punarjanmam na vidyate –

A glimpse of the Vamana, the dwarf form, an incarnation of Lord Jagannatha, is sure to ensure emancipation, release from the cycle of birth and death. The concept of the chariot has been explained in the Kathopanishad in the following wordsAtmanam rathinam viddhi sareeram rathamevatu Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi marah pragrahameva cha. The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts. The Skanda Purana glorifies the sanctity of the Rath Jatra in the following wordsGundicha mandapam namam yatrahamajanam pura Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat. Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed The Skanda Purana also fixes the date of the Ratha-Yatra festival, which should be celebrated on the second day of the bright fortnight if the month of Ashadha, a day called Pushyami Nakshatra by astrological calculations. The Padma Purana describes (as related in Sanatana Goswami's Dig Darshini Tika to his Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, 2.1.159) that in Purushottama-kshetra, or Jagannath Puri, the supremely blissful Personality of Godhead pretends to be made of wood. In this way, although the Lord takes on what appears to be a material form, it is completely spiritual by the causeless mercy of the Lord for the conditioned souls who cannot perceive the transcendental domain. Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed. Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja in his famous Vaidehisa Vilasa mentions that the Lord comes out from his sanctum for participating in the Gundicha Jatra, another name of the Festival of Chariots, only for redeeming the fallen, the

patita jana who get the opportunity to behold their dearest god at close quarters on this occasion. Similarly, saint poet Salabega waxes eloquent in praise of his dearest dark darling and says that the Lord swaying and moving like a wild elephant arrives at the Grand Avenue and rides his chariot and destroys in a flash all the sins of his devotees, even if these may be grave or unpardonable. According to legend Lord Jagannath said to have expressed His desire to visit His birthplace Gundicha Ghar once every year. According to others Subhadra wanted to visit Dwarka, her parent’s home therefore, her two brothers Jagannath and Balabhadra took her there on this day. According to Bhagavad Puran on this day. Krishna and Balaram went to Mathura on the invitation of Kansa to participate in the competition The festival begins with the Ratha Prathistha or invoking ceremony in the morning, but the Ratha Tana or chariot pulling is the most exciting part of the festival, which begins in the late afternoon when the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhdra start rolling.

Each of these carriages has different specifications. Lord Jagannath's Chariot is known as Nandighosa. It has a height of 45 feet. It has sixteen wheels, each of seven feet diameters and is decked with red and yellow coverings of cloth. The Sarathi or the Charioteer made of wood is known as Daruka. The Four horses attached to the Chariot are known as Samkha, Rochica, Mochica and Jwalani. They are white in colour. The name of Ratha Pala is Shri Nrusingha. At the crest of the Chariot are the wheel and the image of Garuda. The name of the flag of Nandighosa is Trailakyamohini. It may be

pointed out that 832 pieces of wood are used in Nandighosa. Nandighosa is draped in yellow cloth.

The Chariot of Lord Balabhadra, called Taladwhaja, has fourteen wheels each of seven feet diameter with red and blue cloth. It has a height of fortyfour feet. The name of the Sarathi is Sudyaumna. The four wooden black horses attached to the Chariot bear the names of Sthira, Dhruti, Sthiti and Siddha. The Rathapala is Ananata and 763 pieces of wood are used in this Chariot. The name of the flag of the Chariot is Unnani. The Chariot of the Subhadra is known as Darpadalana, height is forty three feet with twelve wheels, each of seven feet diameters. This Chariot is covered with red and black cloth. The name of Sarathi is Arjuna. Four wooden horses fixed to the Chariot as known as Prajna, Anuja, Ghora and Aghora. The Rathapalika is Vana Durga. 539 pieces of wood are used in this Chariot and the name of the Chariot is Nadambika. Embellished and decorated with tinsel and ancient accessories, each of the chariots has a large platform covered with huge flowral umbrellas.

Each year these wooden chariots are constructed anew in accordance with religious specifications. Many artists and artisans are engaged in building these three chariots, weaving its fabric covers that dress up the chariots, and painting them in the right shades and motifs to give them the best possible

looks. Fourteen tailors are engaged in stitching up the covers that require almost 1,200 meters of cloth. On the morning of the Yatra, the rhythmic clang of metal gongs, blowing of conch shells and trumpets and chanting of holy men fill the air as priests called Daityas bring out the bedecked idols to their rathas The procession then awaits the arrival of the Gajapati or the King of Puri. The king comes in a traditional palanquin, following a procession of decorated elephants and horses. The King of Puri is a descendant of the royal family of Orissa and has complete control over the management and property of the Jagannath temple. He performs the Chhera Paharna, to express his humility before God. He sweeps the chariots with a gold broom and sprinkles holy water on them.. The chariots are drawn by 50-metre long ropes attached to their front. Devotees surge ahead for an opportunity to give a hand in pulling the ropes, as it is believed that this will absolve them of all their sins and help them attain salvation. Besides the famous Ratha yatra, there are other important festivals being conducted in the temple. Some of the important festivals as observed in Shri Jagannath Temple. Snana Yatra - This is on Jyestha Purnima, the birth day of Sri Jagannath. The three deities are brought in a colorful Pahandi procession to the decorated Snana Bedi, an elevated bathing platform. 108 pitchers full of scented water are ched from a sacred well (Suna kua near the north gate) and are poured over the Deities amidst chanting of Mantras and loud rejoicings. Navakalevara Since the bodies of the deities of the Puri temple have been fabricated out of the logs of wood of the margosa tree, the wooden object is liable to decay after a certain period and needs replacement. So the images of Jagannatha require a change over to new bodies. In such years as have two months of Asadha, this new body change-over ceremony called the Nava Kalevara takes place when the old images are replaced by new ones. Normally, this

should take place once in 12 years, but actually the shortest period is 8 years and the longest is 19 years.

Specific persons including the Daitas are deputed from the Puri temple to the Mangala temple in Kakatapur village to implore the mercy of the said goddess, so that they would be able to spot out the suitable margosa trees. There are many specifications about the environment, location, height, age and other details of the trees which should be thoroughly checked before they are procured for the purpose. After the trees are located and selected, a small ritual, including homa takes place and the tree is felled. Then it is cut to size and brought to the temple. In Koili Vaikuntha, the skilled carpenters called Visvakarma fashion the wooden images under the strict supervision and guidance of the Daitas. On those days an elaborate sacrifice invoking the god Nrsimha is performed. After the images are carved out, these are taken inside the temple and the Brahma (a mysterious object always placed inside the images) is transferred from the old images to the new images. Then the old images are buried in Koili Vaikuntha. The new images are painted and made ready for worship. Vesas of Deities The word 'Vesa' (in Sanskrit as also in Oriya) means, dress. It is a common feature with all the temples that deities are dressed and decorated daily. On

special occasions the deities are also dressed and decorated in suitable manner.

The Deities are adorned with cotton and silk fabrics, Gold Ornaments studded with precious stones, flowers of different varieties, Tulsi leaves, sandal paste, and camphor. These articles are used in the daily and periodical rituals. Some important Veshas or costumes of the deities are mentioned below.

This Vesha is done everyday after Mangal Aarati for the Abakash rituals. The clothes which are worn by the deities for this purpose are known as "Tadapa" and "Uttariya". Sadha Vesha : This Vesha are the normal costumes of deities which they wear five times in a day, especially after each food offering. This Vesha comprises silken clothes and flower garlands. Bada Sringar Vesha : This the last Vesha of the deities done everyday before the night "Pahuda". Bada Sringar Vesha is mostly of flowers of different colours and species. The deities wear silk clothes called 'Khandua'. Chandan Vesha : This vesha is done for 42 days starting from Akshayya Tritiya day. Ganapati or Hathi vesha : On the full moon day in the month of Jyestha, after the bathing ceremony is over, the deities are dressed like elephants. Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra appear like Ganesh the Elephant God. Suna(gold) vesha : On the 11th day in the bright fortnight of Ashada, Suna Vesha takes place, when the deities are in their respective chariots near the Lion's gate of Sree Jagannath temple. The deities are decorated with many gold ornaments. This vesha is also known as 'Bada Tadhau' vesha and Raja Vesha is also done on Dashahara, Kartik Purnima, Pousha purnima and Dola purnima. Banabhoji Vesha: It is done on the 10th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba. The deities are dressed as if going for a picnic, like cowherd boys.

Kaliyadalana Vesha : On the 11th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba, Lord Jagannath is dressed like Lord Krishna killing the Kaliya Serpent. Pralambasura Badha Vesha: It is done on the 12th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba; Lord Balabhadra's killing of the demon Pralambasura is depicted in this Vesha. Krishna Balarama Vesha : This Vesha is done on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba. Lord Jagannath and Balabhadra are dressed like Lord Krishna and Balaram. Bali Baman Vesha : On the 12th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadraba, Lord Jagannath is dressed like "Bamana" (dwarf). Bamana (Vamana) is the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Radha-Damodara Vesha : From the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Ashwina to the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, this vesha takes place. Thiakia Vesha : It is done on the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika. Bankachula Vesha : It is done on the 12th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika. Adakia Tribikrama Vesha : This is done on the 13th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika. Dalikia Vesha : On the 14th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, this is also known as Laxmi-Nrisimha Vesha. Nagarjuna Vesha : This vesha is occasionally done in the month of Kartika, when there are six days of "Panchaka". The lords are dressed like warriors. Ghodalagi Vesha : During the period from the 6th day of the bright fortnight of Margasira to the 5th day of the bright fortnight of MaghaBasanta Panchami the deities wear winter clothes. Jamalagi Vesha : From Basanta Panchami to Dola Purnima, the deities wear modified Ghoda(Winter dress).

Padma Vesha : This vesha is done on any saturday or Wednesday between the new moon day of Magha and Basanta Panchami. "Padma" means lotus. The dress materials made of lotus, "Sola" lace and paper, gum etc. Gaja Uddharana Vesha : This Vesha is done on the full moon day of Magha. This Vesha depicts a story in the puranas as to how Lord Vishnu saved an elephant from the attack of an Alligator. Besides these, there are other veshas like Shradha and Chacheri veshas are done in the month of Margasira and Palguna respectively. The sevaks of temple who dress the deities with clothing and flowers are known as Puspalaks or Singharis. Brahma in the idols of Jagannath, Balabadra and Subadra: There are many theories about this unseen thing called Brahma. Some say it is an image of Vishnu made of some precious Slone. Some others hold that it is a very rare variety of Salagrama Sila (a piece of stone generally black in color, worshipped as the representative image of Visnu). But the fourth view is very important. We are told on the basis of, poetical works written in Orissa about five centuries ago, which again is based on popular traditions that a piece of the bone of Krisna incarnation, who was cremated by the Pandavas after he was killed by Jara Savara and some portions of whose body did not catch fire and therefore remained unburnt, is there in a casket in the body of Jagannatha. Pandas - Harass the visiting pilgrims

Pandas are hereditary priests who assist pilgrims with the temple rituals and record the visit in their pilgrim register. Pujaris perform the actual temple ceremonies. Here these pandas and pujaris control everything in and around the temples and cause serious inconveniences to the devotees congregating at the temples. They ruthlessly pressure and abuse visitors to partake with cash and on failing to meet their demands, pilgrims are subjected to abusive and profane insults. One wonders how such acts of terror could happen in places of worship Temple structure: The temple consists of four edifices in one alignment from east to west, the bhogmandir, the natmandir, the jaganmohan and the deul or the inner sanctuary, which is surmounted by a conical tower of immense proportions. The temple complex: The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2), and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. 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.

The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the ‘srichakra’ of Vishnu. Also known as the "Nilachakra", it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. 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. The main shrine is enclosed by a 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall. Another wall surrounds the main temple.

The Singahdwara, or 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 with the Garuda Stambha Pillar in the foreground. Apart from the Singhadwara, 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. The statues of the two guards to the temple Jaya and Vijaya stand on either side of the doorway. 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.

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. 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 Dologobindo 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. The Temple Kitchen & Mahaprasada

The temple's kitchen is considered as the largest kitchen in India. Tradition maintains that all food cooked in the temple kitchens are supervised by 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 promptly buried and a new batch cooked. All food is cooked following rules as prescribed by Hindu religious texts. Cooking is done only in earthen pots with water drawn from two special wells near the kitchen called Ganga and Yamuna. There are total 56 varieties of naivedyam offered to the deities, near ratnavedi as well as in bhoga mandap on five particular muhurtas. The most awaited prasad is kotho bhoga or abadha, offered at mid-day. The food after being offered to Lord Jagannath is distributed to devotees. The natmandir, with its ceiling of iron beams and the bhogmandir, however, are believed to have been added in the 14th or 15th century, long after the original structure had been completed. The former, with its 16 pillars, is the only real example of a hypostyle hall in Orissan architecture. A significant feature of the inner enclosure is that, as in the Lingaraja temple, it stands in a large courtyard measuring 440 feet by 350 feet and is surrounded by a high wall.

In the inner sanctuary are the three holy images of Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra, and his sister Subhadra. The entrance to the shrine is decorated with scenes from the life of Krishna, and the gates and walls are heavily ornamented with marble figures of lions and sentries. The profuse decoration on the walls of the nat and bhog-mandirs is, however, stylized and comparatively lifeless. This clearly indicates that when these structures were erected, the Oriyan style of architecture had entered a period of decline. To preserve the temple from the corroding effects of the sea breeze, parts of the stone masonry and the elaborate carvings have been covered with thick

plaster. Crowned with Vishnu's flag and wheel, the tower, however, retains its commanding appearance in spite of the heavy cement overlay.

Om Namo Narayanaya

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