The divine forms of Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra will be bathed during the festival called Snana Yatra on 9th June this year. Here are some facts about the festival that all the lovers of Jagannatha would want to know and remember.

  1. It is the birthday of Lord Jagannatha on Snana Yatra: The dieties of Lord Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra were established on this day by King Indradyumna and a a bathing ceremony was arranged. So, this day is also famous as the birthday of Lord Jagannatha.
  2. Lord comes out of sanctum sanctorum to give darshan on this day: On the previous day of Snana Yatra the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra along with the image of Sudarshana are ceremonially brought out from the sanctum in a procession to the Snana-vedi (Bathing pandal). This special pandal in the temple precinct of Puri is called Snana Mandap. It is at such a height that visitors standing outside the temple also gate a glimpse of the Deities. On the fourteenth day (Chaturdashi – the day before the bathing – Purnima) when the Deities are taken out in procession, the whole process is called Pahandi or Pahandi vijay.
  3. The Lordships are bathed in a grand way: For the festival the the Snana Vedi (bathing platform) is well decorated with traditional paintings of trees and gardens. Flags and toranas (arches strung with mango leaves) are also put up. The Deities are profusely decorated with flowers. All kinds of perfumes such as Dhupa (incense), Aguru (oils) etc. are then offered. As the ‘Pahandi’ of the Deities takes place to the accompaniment of music and beating of various indigenous drums. Thousands of devotees jostle and crave for a look at the Deities in procession.In Puri the bathing procedure is as follows: After Mangala Arati, the Suaras and Mahasuaras go in a ceremonial procession to fetch water from Suna Kua (Golden well) in one hundred and thirty, vessels of copper and gold. All of them cover their mouths with a piece of cloth so as not to contaminate it even with their breath. Then all the vessels filled with water are preserved in the Bhoga Mandap. The Palla pandas (a class of Brahmin priests) then purify the water with Haridra (turmeric), Java (whole rice), Benachera, Chandan, Aguru, flowers, perfumes and medicinal herbs.The bathing festival takes place during the morning hours of the purnima tithi. The filled vessels are carried from Bhoga Mandap to the Snana Vedi by the Suaras in a long single-line procession. This ritual is called ‘Jaladhibasa’ (Jala – water, abhishek – bath).Prior to the bathing ceremony Jagannath, Baladeva and is Subhadra, covered in silken cloth and then smeared with red powder, are taken in procession to a platform which is specially decorated and purified with water and incense. One hundred and eight gold vessels are filled with water taken from a special well containing waters from all the holy tirthas. Abhiseka is performed with this water, accompanied by the chanting of vedic (Pavamana Sukta) mantras, kirtana and blowing of conch shells.
  4. The Lord gives darshan in hati-vesa after the bath: After the bath is over, Lordships give their darshan in hati-vesa (elephant form). In this unique and attractive form, Lord Jagannatha and Baladeva are dressed as elephants and Subhdra Maharani wears a lotus flower.
  5. Lord Jagannatha performs transcendental fever pastime: Due to profuse bathing Lord Jagannatha gets transcendental fever (only to give his devotees the opprtunity to serve Him more intimately). Immediately after the Snana Yatra Lord Jagannatha does not give His darshan for 15 days. The Deities are kept on a special “sick room” called the Ratan vedi inside the temple. This period is called ‘Anabasara kala’ meaning improper time for worship.
  6. Preparation are done for Ratha Yatra: During these fifteen days the Daitas (descendants of Viswavasu, the Savara) repaint and restore the Deities and Jagannath’s fine decorations. The period of colouring and decorating the Deities is divided into seven short periods, each of two days duration, and a short period of one day set apart to give finishing touches. Thus the period covers the whole fortnight. On the 16th day the Deities in their new forms after renovation become ready for the public view – darshan. The festival of the first appearance of the Lord Jagannath to his devotees is called Netrotsava (festival for the eyes) or Nava Yauvanotsava (festival of the ever new youth). According to priests of the Jagannath temple the devotee washes away all his sins if he gets a vision of the Lord on this day. The day after Netrotsava, the deities leave for Ratha Yatra.

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