Puri Celebrates Snan Purnima


Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra in Their Gajanan Vesha
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Jun 18, JAGANNATHA PURI, ORISSA — Annual bathing ceremony for Their Lordships draws crowds of devotees to Jagannath Puri.

All roads on Wednesday led to the temple town at Puri on the grand occasion of Snana Purnima, where scores of curious pilgrims and devotees from the city and elsewhere around the world turned up to watch the sibling Deities, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, being given a ceremonial bath.

Another reason the large crowd assembled on this day was that it was the last day for having a glimpse of the Deities, Who will live a life of recluse for the next fifteen days inside the sick room (anasara ghara). No one except the priests (only those belonging to the daitapati category) will be allowed to watch over the Deities, who fall ill after Their traditional bath, thus giving the devotees a merciful chance to server Their Lordships. The temple Vaidya (ayurveda doctor) treats the Lord with herbal medicines, and the Deities consume only fruits served to them by the daita servitors, known as body protectors of the Deities.

Their Lordships on the bathing altar
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During the Lord's sick period, the priests worship the Deities' representative images (dasa avatar) painted on canvases. Devotees will again have the privilege to get Lord Jagannath's navjouvan darshan a day before Rath Yatra, which is on July 4th this year.

Traditionally, on a rainy Wednesday morning, priests lugged the three presiding Deities from the temple's sanctum sanctorum to the bathing altar, located at the shrine's outer complex facing the grand road. It was an ecstatic treat to watch Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra being ferried to the bathing dais in a scintillating procession called pahandi. Then after a set of regular rituals, the Deities were given a grand bath. 108 pitchers of herbal and aromatic water were fetched from the temple's suna kua (golden well). The golden well remain unused till next year's bathing ceremony.

After Their bath, the Deities were decked up in Their elephant attires, symbolizing the incarnation of Lord Ganesh.

"It is widely believed that one can erase all sins from life if he or she watches the three Deities on the bathing dais. I also did not want to miss the opportunity," said 67 year-old Kadambari Mallick, who had come from the nondescript Ramalenka village, 80 kilometers from Puri. Meanwhile, the devotees heaved a sigh of relief from the days' long incessant rains as the weather became pretty normal, though a bit overcast on Wednesday. "Still, the crowd could have been more if the long distance trains were not cancelled due to flash floods at different places," said a Jagannath Temple official.

ISKCON sannyasi in an upbeat mood

Unlike previous years, the auspicious day this time failed to clinch a sizeable number of VIPs to the city. "A handful of VIPs, including state minister Pramila Malick came to watch Snan Purnima," said Sudeep Chaterjee, another temple official. Actor-turned-saint Swami Nitya Chaitanya (Sriram Panda), who reached the home state after a span of 17 years, also visited Puri to see the Lord's bathing ritual.

Tight security was arranged for the smooth conduct of the bathing ceremony. According to Puri Additional SP, Rajat Kanti Mishra, thirty-four platoons of police forces were deployed in and around the temple. Vehicles were not allowed near the temple, and the entrance points to Puri were heavily guarded by police, with metal detectors on site for frisking visitors. Cops in plain clothes were also placed inside the temple. Police made a queue system for devotees who wanted to go close to the Deities, Who were clad in Their glittering elephant veshas later in the evening.

A Priest pouring water on Lord Jagannath's head

On the bathing altar
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