Suna Besha Celebrated at Puri
BY: DEBABRATA MOHAPATRA
Lord Balabhadra clad with gold jewelries on His chariot
[Photos by D. Mohapatra, Sampradaya Sun. Click all images for larger version.]
Jul 13, JAGANNATHA PURI, ORISSA Like Bahuda Yatra, Suna Besha passed off peacefully.
The sea of humanity in Puri was packed tight on Sunday on the auspicious occasion of Suna Besha. After the end of the mega event of chariot pulling came Suna Besha, where the triad Deities from the 12th century shrine at Jagannath Puri donned opulent quantities of gold ornaments. This is an important annual ritual performed after the end of the Car Festival.
Lakhs of devotees converged in the seaside town to have a glimpse of the gold-clad Deities being installed on Their respective chariots in front of the 12th century Jagannath Temple. Historical records say that Suna Besha was introduced during the rein of King Kapilendra Deb in 1430. The Deities wore gold jewelries weighing nearly eight quintal (1,763 pounds) on their bodies, a temple source said.
Lord Balabhadra wearing gold ornaments
The gold is stored at the temple's bhandara ghar. Besieged by a posse of armed police men and temple officials, at least twenty-five bhandara nikap priests (store in-charge) brought the required gold from the artery nearly one hour before the Lord wore His shining jewelry. Devotees witnessed the besha from evening 5 pm till 11 pm.
"The bhandara nikap priests brought the gold onto the chariots and handed it over to puspalaka and daitapati priests, who decorated the Deities' body with gold jewelry laced with invaluable stones," said Rabindranath Pratihari, a senior priest.
Lord Jagannath wearing gold ornaments
The temple administration had taken measures to popularize Suna Besha, which unlike Rath Yatra, is yet to be spread among the masses. "Pilgrims from far off places come here to participate in the Rath Yatra only. While a few stay till the Bahuda Yatra, many pilgrims leave the place before the occasion of Suna Besha. Mostly people in the city and the nearby districts throng to witness the besha," said a temple official. "But this time, we tried to spread the besha message through websites and information brochures for drawing more crowd," the official added.
Meanwhile, tight security arrangements were made for safe and smooth conduct of the festival, at the backdrop of a stampede during Rath Yatra on July 4th. "Even though history has not witnessed any attack on the Lords during the Suna Besha, we will not take it casually. Strong police arrangements were made," said Puri additional SP, Rajat Kanti Mishra. "Suna Besha passed off peacefully," Mishra said.
Devi Subhadra wearing gold ornaments
The sibling Deities wearing gold jewelries
on Their respective chariots in front of Jagannath Temple
Priests bringing gold ornaments to decorate the Deities