Monday, June 20, 2016

Mahaprabhu Lord Jagannath Snana Yatra at Puri Temple

The Snana Yatra or the bathing festival is a famous religious festival in Puri and it has lot of significance within the country too. People from all over the globe visit Puri, Odisha during this festival to be a part of Lord Jagannath’s journey to his maternal aunty's(Mousi Maa temple) home. It is observed and celebrated on Purnima or the full moon day of the Hindu month of Jyestha which falls in May or June. For the Vaishnava sect it is an important festival. This Snana yatra is the only time when the deities- Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan and Madanmohan are brought out of the Janagannath Temple and taken to the Sana Bedi. This is known as “Pahandi’ by local people.

This procession looks marvelous with hoards of devotees dancing, singing, pulling the rope of the holy chariot along with purohits chanting mantras. On the Snana Bedi all the deities are bathed ceremonially. The bathing venue is decorated beautifully with lots of flowers and colorful clothes. The Snana Yatra witnesses large number of visitors from around the world. It is a belief of the devotees of Lord Jagannath that if they make a pilgrimage to this land during this celebration, they will be purged of all sins; hence, the crowd.

In Skanda Purana it is mentioned that King Indradyumna was the one who first performed this ceremony when the idols were installed in the shrine for the first time. Since, then the people of Odisha have celebrated this bathing festival. The Snana Bedi or the Snana Mandapa is situated in the north-east direction of Ananda Bazaar beside the outer wall of the temple. The length and width of the platform is 76 feet. The height is also long enough for all the devotees standing outside to see the Lord and his family.

Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Maa Subhadra on Snana-Mandapam (Bathing Platform)

Since, this is the bathing festival; the deities are bathed with the holy water from Suna Kua or the Golden Well. 108 pots of water are fetched from the well by the Suaras and the Mahasuaras on this auspicious day. Water from this holy well is fetched once in a year only, during this festival. People drawing water from the well cover their mouths with clean cloth lest the water gets contaminated. The pots are kept inside the Bhoga Mandap where the priests purify them with turmeric, sandal, whole rice, perfumes and flowers. The Suaras later carry the pots out to the Snana Mandap where the Jalabhishek is performed amidst the chant of Vedic mantras by priests and blowing of conch shells accompanied with Kirtana.

After the Snana ceremony, the deities are adorned with new dress known as the Elephant or the Hathi Vesha. The attires of Lord Jagannath and Balaram resemble that of an elephant while Goddess Subhadra wears a lotus attire or vesha. This is a special appearance of the Lord and his family for his devotees. With so many baths, the deities fall sick with fever and are not returned to the pedestal. There is a sick room inside the temple known as the Ratan Bedi where the deities are kept.

Deities stay inside the room for 15 days and during this time no public worship or darshan is allowed. This period is known as ‘Anasara’. To treat Lord and his family, they are offered Dasamula medicine mixed with cheese and fruits. Even the daily temple rites remain suspended during this period. The deity along with his family appears in front of public on the 16th day in his new form which is known as ‘Netrotsava’. Some devotees also visit the Alarnatha Temple nearby during the Anasara period with a belief that the Lord manifests himself as Alarnatha. 

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