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June 5, 2020, 12:26 p.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 353 views)

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Significance of SnanaJatra in the Jagannath cult|Karuwakispeaks

Lord Jagannath holds a unique place, not only in the history of Orissa, but also in the lives of its people, symbolizing the state & society.W.W.Hunter, the famous historian has written"In every disaster of Orissa, Jagannatha has borne his share. In every fight of the people, before an invading power, he has been their comrade".This special relationship between the ordinary people & the divine Lord is an indissoluble bond of abiding faith since time immemorial.

The Jagannath temple in Puri is famous for the many festivals which are celebrated throughout the year. However, the images of the main deities only participate in two festivals namely "SnanaJatra" and the "RathaJatra”. LordJagannath's proxy image or plenipotentiary image represent him in all other festivals.

Significance of SnanaJatra in the Jagannath cult|Karuwakispeaks

The DevaSnanaPurnima heralds the annual cycle of festivals & is held on the full moon day of Jyestha. The Skanda Purana mentions that King Indradyumna started this festival. Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra & Devi Subhadra along with Sudarshana and Madan Mohanis taken out in a ceremonial procession called "pahandi" to the "snanavedi" and bathed with ritually purified water carried in 108 pots from the prescribed well in the temple premises.This is known as "Jalaabhishekh". In the evening, the deities give darshan in "Gajanan besa".

Significance of SnanaJatra in the Jagannath cult|Karuwakispeaks

Following the bathing festival, the main images remain inside the "Anasaragriha" which continues till the new moon day. It is said, that the deities fall sick after bathing on snanaJatra & are treated with medicated herbs & balms by the raj vaidya for fifteen days, after which they recuperate and the "netrotsava followed by nabajaubana" darshan takes place just before the RathaJatra.

A largenumber of servitors belonging to different categories are employed for each festival.For the"SnanaJatra" 37 classes of servitors including representatives of "Raghava das math" &"Gopal tirtha math" are engaged in the various rituals. After snanaJatra when the main deities are taken inside the "anasaratati" a class of servitors called "chitrakar" paints images of the deities which are posted outside the "anasaratati". Lord Jagannath is represented in this painting as Narayanan, Balabhadra as Basudeva & Subhadra as Bhuvaneswari.The famous "patachittra" paintings of Orissa have originated from this practice.

Significance of SnanaJatra in the Jagannath cult|Karuwakispeaks

During the "anasara" 12 kinds of servitors amongst which the Daitapatis enjoy a preeminent position.During this time, the Lord gives darshan at the shrine at Allarnath. In almost all festivals, both the Daitas who are the descendants of the original autochthonous worshippers and the Brahminical priest called puja pandas are involved.

This year due to the covid19 crisis, the festival will be held with a minimum number of servitors with strict adherence to social distancing norms. Prohibitory orders will be imposed in parts of purito prevent the congregation of devotees. However, live telecasts of the devasnana rituals will bring the Lord to his devotees.

Blaise Pascalsaid: "To those who wish to see, God gives them sufficient light. To those who don't wish to see, God gives them sufficient darkness."The faith of the common man has been reflected so poignantly in the classic Jagannath janana by the 17th century poet Sauribhika "thakamanachalajiba,chakanayanadekhiba"..Faith is unseen but felt & Faith is hope when all seems lost...Jai Jagannath

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