Shri Jagannath temple puri is a vital Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe). A sort of Vishnu located at Puri within the state of Odisha in the Eastern coastal state of India. The temple as we see is rebuilt By Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev of the Ganga Dynasty in 12th Century CE.
“Nilachala NivasayaNityaya Paramatmane
Balabhadra SubhadrabhyamJagannathaya Te Namah.”
Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are the deities worshipped at this temple. The inner sanctum of the temple contains the statues of those three gods carved within the sacred Neem logs referred to as Daru sitting on a platform named as Ratna Bedi alongside the Status of Sudarshana Chakra, Madan Mohan, Sridevi, and Vishwa Dharitri. The worship of those Deities predates the building of the temple was started in an ancient temple shrine.
The History of Lord Jagannath & Rath Yatra
Consistent with the Mahabharata and Purana, the primary Jagannath Temple was commissioned by King Indradyumna, Son of Bharata, and Sunanda, a Malava King. According to the legend account of Purana, Lord Jagannath earlier was worshipped as Nila Madhab by a Sabar Chief Viswa Basu. Hearing of the deity Indradyumna sent a brahmin priest Vidyapati to locate the deity.
Vidyapati acknowledged the Sabara chief. He tried his best to locate the deity but was unable to do so. Later, he managed to marry Viswa Basu’s Daughter Lalitha. After the constant request of his son in law, Viswa Basu agreed to take him to the deity but blindfolded. Vidyapati was very intelligent. He dropped mustard seed along the way. The seeds germinated after some days, which enabled him to find the caves afterwards.
On hearing this, King Indradyumna immediately proceeded to Odra Desha (Odisha) on a pilgrimage to visualize and worship the idol. But the idol had disappeared. The king was disappointed. The idol was hidden within the sand. The king decided to not return without having a darshan of the deity and observed fast unto death at Mount Neela. Then a divine speak informed him that he will see them.
Afterwards, the king performed a horse sacrifice and built a magnificent temple for Vishnu. Narasimha Murti brought by Narada was installed within the temple. During sleep, the king had a vision of Lord Jagannath. Also, a divine voice directed him to receive the fragrant tree on the seashore. The King found the log of wood. When this log, radiant with light was seen floating within the sea; Narada told the king to form three idols out of it and place them during a pavilion.
Indradyumna got Visvakarma, the architect of Gods, to create a magnificent temple to deal with the idols. Vishnu himself appeared within the guise of a carpenter to form the idols. He set a condition that he was to be left undisturbed until he finished the work.
But just after a fortnight, 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 visited and saw Vishnu at work on which the latter abandoned his work leaving the idols unfinished. The idol was barren of any hands. But a divine voice told Indradyumana to put them within the temple. It’s also been widely believed that in spite of the idol being without hands, it can watch the planet and be its lord.
The Ratha Yatra
During the death of Queen Gundicha, she had asked the Lord to go to his birthplace once in 12 months. In this way, the culture of Rathyatra starts. Rathyatra in other words referred to as a chariot festival. It is widely known within the month of
Asadha i.e season in Odisha (usually within the month of June or July).
The three deities are delivered to the street of Puri (Bada Danda) and visit their birthplace approx 3km faraway from the most Temple. The Rathas are huge wheeled wooden structures, which are built anew per annum 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. 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 thus the inverted lotuses on the wall behind the throne.
The foremost significant ritual related to the Ratha-Jatra is the Chera Pahara. During the festival, the Gajapati King wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots within 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 foremost exalted person within the Kalingan kingdom, he still renders the menial service to Jagannath. This ritual signified that under the lordship of Jagannath, there’s no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King and therefore the most humble devotee. Chera Pahara is done on two days, on the primary day of the Ratha Jatra, when the deities are taken to a garden house at Mausi Maa Temple and again on the Judgment Day of the festival when the deities are ceremoniously brought back to the Shri Mandir.
As per another ritual, the deities are taken out from the Shri Mandir to the Ratha in a ceremonial way called Pahandi Vijay.
This festival is celebrated for nine days. Thereafter, the deities again ride the chariots back to Shri Mandir in Bahuda Jatra. On the way back, the three chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple and thus the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake which is generally consumed by the people of Odisha.
I offer my humble prostrated obeisance’s to the interior supreme Power – Shri Jagannath –The Super Soul of all living entities. Who resides together with his divine Elder Brother Sri Balabhadra and younger Sister Shree Devi Subhadra within the holiest abode of Nilachal – Puri – Nitya Baikuntha.
A glimpse of such a beautiful tradition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCaCZuN-6Rs
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