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Indian Mythology

Lord Jagannath Lord of the Universe is very unwell and under Medication.

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Jagannath the lord of the universe is unwell, and is under medication. sounds strange but this is true. Lord Jagannath is given a ritual bath on eve of the Snana Yatra which is celebrated on the Purnima (full moon day) of the Hindu month of Jyeshtha. It is an important festival for devotees and this festival embarks the beginning of Ratha yatra. on this day deities of Jagannath, Baladeva, Subhadra, Sudarshan, and Madanmohan are brought out from the Jagannath Temple are brought out in a grand procession from the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) to the Snana Bedi (bathing platform) where they are given a ceremonial bath and are given Devotees come to view the deities. According to Skanda Purana when Raja Indradyumna installed the wooden Deities, he arranged this bathing ceremony. This day considered to be the birthday of Lord Jagannatha.


This bathing ceremony is believed to be a tribal ceremony  and has a specialty. The Daitas and people of Savaras tribe have the exclusive right to conduct the festival. The tribal called Saoras from southern Orissa perform a rite to bath their Deities ceremonially on the last day of the month of Jyestha. For this they collect water from remote jungles where it remains untouched even by the shadows of animals.
On the fourteenth day (Chaturdashi) , The Deities are taken out in procession, the whole process is called Pahandi or Pahandi-vijaya. For the festival, the Snana Vedi (bathing platform) is well decorated with traditional paintings of trees , gardens along with Flags and flower arches. The Deities are decorated with flowers. All kinds of perfumed items such as incense, oils, etc. are then offered.


Then the next day on Purnima day after Mangala Arati, the Suaras and Mahasuaras go in a ceremonial procession to fetch water from 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 Mandapa. The Palla-pandas  then purify the water with turmeric, whole rice, Benachera, sandalwood, Aguru, flowers, perfumes and medicinal herbs. The filled vessels are carried from the Bhoga Mandapa to the Snana Vedi by the Suaras in a long single-line procession. This water is called ‘Jaladhivasa’ water, and the ritual is called Jalabhiseka .


Due to the amount of bathing liquids that are offered to cool the Lord’s transcendental body at the hottest time of the summers in India, Lord’s painted body becomes a bit of washed-out. This is the time when Lord Jagannath along with Baladev and Subadra are traditionally believed to fall ill and are kept in a sick room to recuperate in privacy under the care of the Raj Vaidya. this period is known as Anasara the Gods cannot be seen by devotees. During ‘Anavasara’, the Daitas offer to the Deity only fruits and water mixed with cheese, and dasa-mula medicines that is made from made from spices and herbs like pepper, cardamom, tulsi leaves, sandalwood, rose petals, water from Ganges and rose water to help them cure His fever. In a devotional mood, the devotees accept that due to all the bathing the Lord becomes transcendentally tired, and therefore needs to take rest. Somewhat like human beings, They are considered to have ‘fallen ill’ and are treated by the Raja Vaidya or the Royal Physician with specific medicines (dasa-mulas) the deities are fed specially prepared ‘Kadha’ illness. This bitter kadhais offered as prasad to the devotees who visit the temple in hope to keep the dreaded ailments at bay. This kadha has anti-fever, anti-malarial, pain-reliever and digestive properties.


Along with the offering of kadha. Because the deities become a bit discolored due to so much bathing with water Seeing the wooden Deities in discolour, some devotees may not have the appropriate devotional attitude and may in fact feel sinful repugnance. so the Deities are kept away from public view for fifteen days and during all these days the daily rites of the temple remain suspended.  The Deities are kept in a special “sick room” called the Ratana Vedi inside the Temple. This period is called ‘Anavasara-Kala’, meaning improper time for worship. During these fifteen days, the Daitas (descendants of Visvavasu, the Savara) repaint and restore the Deities and Jagannatha’s fine decorations using only with natural earthly mineral paints, not modern oil-based paints. The period of coloring 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 newly appearing forms after renovation become ready for the public Darsana.


 Just after the Snan Yatra lord Jagannath is dressed in special costume called Haati Vesa. this is a very special Darshan. Lord Jagannatha and Lord Balarama then put on the elephant dress, Hati Vesha, and Subhadra wears a lotus flower vesa. The story behind this vesa is that a great scholar and staunch devotee of Lord Ganesha named Ganapati Bhatta, a devotee from Karnataka had come to Puri visit during Snana Yatra. He was rewarded and appreciated for his scholarship. The king asked the scholar to accompany him to see Lord Jagannatha, which he refused as he would only worship Ganesha, however after being persuaded so much he went to take darshan of lord Jagannath. There to surprise all, Lord Jagannatha appeared with an elephant like form that resembled Ganesha. Since then, the ritual of dressing the deities in dresses like elephants (resembling Ganesha) is prevalent. Another reason being the deities are discolored so before they are painted back the deities are with held for darshan.

Some other interpretations of this decoration is associated with Buddhism as well. Buddhists’ claim that the Vesa is the manifestation of Buddha incarnation of Lord Jagannath. Another legend goes that Lord Ganesh was invoked at the time of construction of Shree Mandir in order to destroy all related obstacles. Some say that the idol of Shree Ganesh was brought by Gajapti Purusottam Dev after his victory over Kanchi War and the idol is worshiped in the temple as “Kanchi Ganesh”.




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