Lord Jagannatha's Thursday Rituals

BY: SUN STAFF

Snana-yatra Bathing Mandap


Nov 27, 2010 — CANADA (SUN) — While Snana Yatra is one of the year's most famous bathing ceremonies for Lord Jagannatha, Baladev and Subhadra at their Jagannatha Puri abode, there is another less well known bathing ceremony that takes place every Thursday. In fact, there are two main categories of special Thursday rituals, known as majanamarjana) and ekanta.

These Thursday rituals are just some of the special offerings made to Lord Jagannath and His divine representatives throughout the year, which are generally known as gurubar neetis. A host of daily rites take place on a fixed schedule, and there are many such routine ceremonies.

Among the more special rituals like those observed on Thursdays are amabasya, ekadasi, sankranti, nakshyatra, and the solar and lunar eclipses. There are also a number of purificatory rites that are performed whenever the situation warrants. Unfortunately, those we most often hear about are the cleansing rites performed after a non-Hindu interloper has been caught entering the temple.

In addition to the above rituals, there are a great many special ceremonies associated with the various festivals, and these are performed at many different places throughout the Puri temple complex. These offerings are all recorded in detail in the Jagannatha Temple's Record of Rights. Some of the ceremonies directly involve Their Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, while others are attended by various other transcendental personalities residing at Puri Dhama, who represent Them.

Majana Ritual

Majana (or marjana) means bath or cleansing. The ceremony is performed after the Morning Puja and an offering of bhog is completed. The bathing area is a mandap on the southern side of the main temple, in front of the mukti-mandap. (Mandaps are simply raised platforms with a roof overtop.) The majana mandap is carefully prepared in advance of the Deities being brought here. It is thoroughly washed down, and a canopy arranged for the pleasure of the Deities.

When the mandap is ready, the Deities of Sridevi (Laxmi), Bhudevi and Madanmohan are transported to the mandap by priests known as the mahajan sevaks. On the mandap, they place the Deities on a khata (cot) to perform the bathing ceremony.

Once the bathing is complete, another sevak, Bhitarchha Mahapatra, applies sandal paste to the Deities, then puja is offered by a puja panda sevak. The food items offered are curd and kora (coconut sweets). After puja, lamps are offered, then bandapana, a ritual greeting and glorification, is made.

At the conclusion of the majana neeti, the Deities are returned to their respective abodes.

Ekanta:

Ekanta refers to living in a secluded place, and there is a special ritual offered on Thursday nights called Ekanta. In this case, Sridevi and Madanmohan, Who serves as the representative of Lord Jagannath, are transported to the jagamohan, or audience hall at the Mahalaxmi temple. They are placed on a palanka (cot), and Bhitarchha Mahapatra applies sandal paste to the Deities.

Pujapanda sevak performs the puja, and kora bhog is offered to the Deities. Again, puja is followed by alati (lamps) and bandapana (greeting), then the Deities are returned to Their respective places in the main temple.

Although there are a few Thursdays in the year when the majana and ekanta ceremonies are not performed, as specified in the Record of Rights, the regular rituals are observed by six main sevaks, or servitors: Sudusuar, Parvayatrayogania, Asthana-Padhiary, Chandan Ghatuary, Pujapanda, Bhitarachha Mahapatra, Pushpalaka, Vimanbadu, Chhatara, Ghantua, and Khata-seja Mekap.

The complexity of just these two Thursday rituals at Jagannatha Puri Temple give us a glimpse of the highly detailed program of worship that is conducted there year round, as it has been since ancient times.


Sources: Sampradaya Sun's Puri Correspondent with excerpts from an article by Mahimohan Tripathy, Orissa Review.


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