Bhubaneswar: Snana Purnima rituals of the sibling deities, which is a prelude to the annual Rath Yatra, have begun at Jagannath Temple in Odisha’s Puri.
Snana Jatra, also known as Deba Snana Purnima, is a ceremonial bath ceremony of the sibling deities held on Purnima (full moon day) of Jyestha month.
As per the tradition, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are escorted from the sanctum sanctorum to the Snana Mandap (bathing altar) in a ‘Pahandi’ (procession) after ‘Mangal Arati’. The mandap is an elevated platform on the temple premises facing east overlooking the Bada Danda. To be able to bear the stress during the procession, the deities are made to wear ‘Senapatta’, a body armour made of ‘Baula’ wood, by the Daitapatis who take charge of the deities from regular priests the previous night.
It is here on the mandap that they are given a ritualistic bath after the sevayats perform a complex set of rituals. ‘Chhera Pahanra’, the ceremonial sweeping, is then performed by Puri King Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb, following which ‘Sahan Mela’ or public darshan is allowed.
The Gajapati, however, will not be participating in the rituals amid the COVID norms and it will conduct by his representative.
The procession, in which the divine deities are brought to Snana Mandap, is called ‘Pahandi’.
The water used for bathing the deities is taken from the Suna Kua (well) on the temple premises. After performing the rituals, 108 pitchers of herbal and aromatic water are used for bathing the three sibling deities.
All the pots, preserved in the ‘Bhoga Mandap’, are first purified using turmeric, sandalwood and flowers. A set of special priests, ‘Suaras’, take these pots from the golden well to the bathing altar.
This ritual is called ‘Jalabhisheka’.
Notably, the holy water is drawn from the well once a year.
After completion of the bathing ceremony, the deities are decked up in ‘Sada Besha’. Later in the day, Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra adorn the Hathi Besha (a form of Lord Ganesha).
While Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra are dressed like elephants, Goddess Subhadra dons lotus flower Besha.
A special ‘Bhog’ is also prepared as an offering.
The devotees are then allowed darshan of the Lords as they appear for ‘Sahana Mela’.
However, the entire festival is being conducted sans devotees for the second conservative year to check the spread of the infection.
At night, the deities are taken to the ‘Anasara Ghar’ (an asylum for the sick) on the temple premises having supposedly fallen ill after the elaborate bath and allowed to recuperate for 14 days when there is no public darshan. During this period, they are offered only fruits and water, mixed with cheese and ‘Dasamula’ medicines by the temple physician.
With 108 pitcher of water having been poured on the deities, the colours too fade out, following which, the ‘Daitas’ repaint the idols.
Importance Of Snana Purnima
The devotees believe that a glimpse of the deities on this auspicious day will rid them of all sins. Thousands of devotees visit the Shri Jagannath Temple on this occasion.
This year, the Pilgrim Town will again miss chats of ‘Hari Bol’ and ‘Jai Jagannath’ with Section 144 being camped to check large congregations in view of the COVID pandemic situation.