Śrī Jagannath Puri

(Dedicated to Lord Krishna)

Overview

The Puri temple is built on a gigantic raised platform in the heart of the city. The temple complex is enclosed by a wall about seven meters high including the height of the platform. The historic Jagannath temple (Shrimandira) at Puri was built in the year 1078. The area of this platform is more than 4,20,000 sq.ft. The wall is pierced by four gates, facing the four directions. On the east-facing gate, there are stone images of two lions and it is called the Lions Gate. The north, south, and west-facing gates are similarly known as the Elephant Gate, the Horse Gate and the Tiger Gate (also called the Khanja Gate) respectively. The north gate is mainly meant for the God himself in as much as, the logs of wood out of which, the images are fabricated, make their entry into the temple premises through this gate when the Navakelevara ceremony takes place. The east-facing Lions Gate is the main gate. There are pyramidal structures over the four gates, which are not very old.

As we arrive at the vast open area in front of the Lions Gate (eastern gate), we see a monolithic pillar about 10 meters high. This pillar is known locally as the Aruna Stambha. In Hindu mythology Aruna is the charioteer of the Sun-god, The world-famous Konarka temple was designed in the form of a stupendous chariot and this monolithic pillar with the beautifully carved Aruna seated on its top was installed right in front of the porch of that temple. When the temple was abandoned and there was no presiding deity in it, this pillar was removed from Konarka to Puri and was fixed in front of Jagannatha temple where we see it now.

Immediately after we get into the main gate and proceed forward, we find ourselves on a flight of steps. Locally, they are called Baisi Pahaca, which literally means, twenty-two steps. The history or rather the mystery of this flight of steps has not been unveiled. It is interesting to note that great reverence is shown to this flight of twenty-two steps. The parents bring their children & make them slowly roll over the steps from the top to the bottom ones in expectation of spiritual bliss in as much as countless devotees have walked on the steps which are believed to be throbbing with spiritual animation.

As we cross the main entrance on the east and ascend the flight of steps leading to the main temple, we find on the left-hand side, a vast kitchen area of the temple. Some tourists rightly observe that on account of this kitchen, the Puri temple may be described as the biggest hotel in the world. It can feed even one lakh persons with only two to three hours’ notice. The method of preparation is most hygienic and the traditional process of preparation of food for so many people in so short time takes many by surprise. To the right, we have the Ananda Bazaar which is the popular name of the food selling market within the enclosure. Ananda Bazaar literally means the pleasure market.

Pooja Timings

Jagannatha is regarded as the supreme god and the sovereign monarch of the Odishan empire. The entire ritual pattern of Jagannatha has been conceived keeping such twin aspects in view. The ritual system of the temple is very elaborate and complex involving a multitude of functionaries above one thousand spread over one hundred categories. The rituals of Jagannatha can broadly be divided into three parts – the daily, the occasional and the festive. In Jagannatha temple, these rituals assume the term ‘Niti’.

DAILY RITUALS

Dwarpitha and Mangal Aarati at 5 a.m

The door opens early in the morning in the presence of five specific sevayats after verification of the “seal” given by a particular sevayat in the last night. Soon after the opening of the door, Mangal Aarati is performed.

“Mailam” at 6 a.m.

“Mailam” is a word used in Sri Jagannath Temple, which means change or removal of dresses and flowers etc. At this time some specific sevaks change the clothes, flowers, Tulasi leaves of the deities worn on the previous night. After the removal of clothes, the clothes are known as “Tadap” and “Uttariya” are worn by the deities.

“Abakash” – 6 a.m. to 6.30 a.m.

Purificatory rites like brushing of teeth and bath are known as “Abakash”. At this time, Temple Jyotishi (Astrologer) reads out the tithi(day and date) and other astrological details of the day and according to that, that day’s rituals are performed.

“Mailam” 6.45 a.m.

At this time deities change their clothes (Tadap and Uttariya) and wear another set of clothes. A Sevak known as “Akhanda Mekap” keeps in the sanctum Akhanda Baitha i.e. one lamp which burns till “Pahuda” or the time of the retirement of the deities to bed.

“Sahanamela” – 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Though this is not a part of the rituals, about one hour is spent to facilitate pilgrims to go up to “Ratnavedi” or inner sanctums to have a Darshan, without paying fees for it. On certain festive days, Sahanamela is held after “Sandhya dhupa” (Evening Puja or Sandhya Aarati in the month of Kartik) and after Sakaldhupa (in the month of Pausha). Some times this darshan is not allowed for some special rituals of the deities.

“Beshalagi” – 8 a.m.

After Sahanamela the deities are again dressed up which can be witnessed from a little distance i.e.” Bhitara Katha”. At this time, Deities are also adorned with gold and precious stones to suit different festive occasions.

Rosha Homa Surya Puja and Dwarapal- 8 a.m. to 8.30 a.m.

While some sevayats are busy with vesha lagi or the Deities, Pujapandas at that time performs “Rosha Homa” (Fire Sacrifice) at the kitchen and “Surya puja” at the Surya temple near “Mukti Mandap”. Then the images of two gate keepers named Jaya and Vijaya on the entrance of the Jagamohan of the Temple are worshipped.

Gopala Ballava Puja- 9 a.m.

The prescribed time is 9 A.M. This is the time for the breakfast of the deities. At this time sweet popcorn (Khai), Khualadus, Coconut sweets (Kora), Ripe banana, Curd, and chipped coconuts, etc. are offered as bhogas. Puja is performed in a brief manner with Pancha upachar only.

Sakala Dhupa(Morning food offering) 10 a.m

At this time puja is performed by three Pujapandas with 16 Upachars or Sodasha Upachars. Three Pujapandas used to sit on Ratnasinhasana to worship three deities Shri Balabhadra, Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath. The Pujapanda who worships Lord Jagannath also worships Sri Devi, Bhudevi, and Sudarshan. The morning bhoga or food offered to the deities contains Rice, Kanika, Khechudi, Green leaves, Cakes, etc. The local names of the Bhog are Pitha Puli, Hansakeli, Kanti, Enduri, Matha Puli, Kakatua Jhili, Bundia, Kadali Bhaja, Ada Pachedi (ginger tonic), etc. The cost of the dhoop Pujas and Ballavs are borne by the Temple Administration. Previously Raja-Superintendent of the temple born the cost of materials for the preparation of Bhoga. So these Bhogas are also called “Raja Bhoga” or “Kotha Bhoga”.

Mailam and Bhoga Mandap

After Morning Dhupa or Puja, the Deities change their clothes and again Puja takes place in “Bhoga Mandap”, a place behind the Garuda pillar of Jagamohan. Huge quantity of Bhogas such as Rice, Dal, Curries, Saga, and Cakes of different kinds, etc. are offered to the Deities. Pujapandas worship this bhog with Pancha Upacharas. The cost of Bhoga Mandap offerings is not borne by the state or Temple Administration. This bhoga is mainly prepared to meet the need of different Mathas(Monasteries) and for sale to the general public. According to the demand, Bhogamandap Puja is made twice or thrice a day i.e. after “Madhyanha Dhoop” and “Sandhya Dhup” also.

Madhyanha (Afternoon food offering) 11 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Like Sakal Dhupa, this puja is also performed with Shodasha Upachar in the afternoon. The Bhoga items are more in number than that of Morning Dhupa. One can go near to the “Ratna Simhasan” for darshan by paying a special Darshan fee of Rs. 10/- after Madhyanha Dhupa and Sakal Dhupa.

Madhyanha Pahudha – 1 p.m. to 1.30 p.m

If rituals have been performed in time and if time permits, the Deities retire for the afternoon.

Sandhya Aarati

In the evening again aaratis are performed after Madhyana Dhupa Mailam. On Ekadashi day, the deities change their clothes and wear another set after “Aarati” is over.

Sandhya Dhupa – 7 p.m. to 8 p.m

After “Sandhya Aarati” again Bhogas are offered to the deities in the same manner like Sakala and Madhyanha Dhupa but this time Bhoga amount is less in quantity and number. After Puja again lamp offering is made which is called as “Jaya Mangala Aarati”.

Mailam and Chandana lagi

After “Sandhya Dhoopa” deities change their clothes and are annointed with Sandal paste mixed with champhor, keshar and Kasturi. One can witness this ritual by paying special Darshan fees of Rs. 10/-.

Badashringar Vesha

After Chandan lagi, deities are dressed with Baralagi Patta (silken robes on which some portions of Geeta Govinda of Jayadev are woven in to the texture of these robes) and flower ornaments.

Badashringara Bhoga

This is the last bhoga of the day. Puja is offered with Pancha Upachar by the Puja Pandas with Pakhal (watered rice), Kadali bada, Kshiri, Kanji etc.

Khata Seja Lagi and Pahuda 12.00

The bedsteads of the deities are arranged. The Deity of “Sayan Thakura” is carried from Bhandarghar to Ratnavedi or Ratnasimhasana and place the deity near Lord Jagannath. Then follows offering of green coconut, betels and camphor aarati and then deities retire to their beds. The door is sealed then by the Sevayat (Talichha Mohapatra). Temple is closed and no visitors or outsiders are allowed to remain inside.

This is in brief the daily rituals observed in the Temple. It is generally not possible to follow the time prescribed for each ritual on account of various practical difficulties. On the specific festive days, additional rituals are performed. As a result, changes in timings and alterations in the routine rituals are made.

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TRANSPORTATION AND TRAVEL ROUTES

AIRPORT

Nearest Airport is Bhubaneshwar

RAIL

Nearest train station is Puri.

BUS

Nearest bus stop is Puri Bus Depot

 

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History

Historically speaking, the antiquity of Jagannatha can be taken to the second century B.C.when Kharavela was the emperor of Kalinga (the ancient name of Odisha). There is the mention of one Jinasana in the historic Hatigumpha inscription of the emperor on the top of Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar and though it clearly speaks of a Jaina deity, it is often identified with Jagannatha. But reliable materials in the historical form are available from the 9th century A.D. when Sankaracarya visited Puri and founded the Govardhana Matha as the eastern dhama of India.

The place where each one of the four Mathas has been established by Sankara is known by the celebrated name of dhama which literally means, a sacred place. Puri is the dhama of eastern India. It is the traditional belief that a Hindu should visit these four dhamas at least once in his life and the prevailing practice is that, after visiting the other three dhamas, one must visit Puri dhama. The records maintained by the Pandas in the Puri temple contain reliable materials to show that for centuries past, people from the whole of India have been visiting Puri in course of their pilgrimage.

The main temple in Puri is surrounded by about 30 temples, small and big, a list of which may be seen in Chapter 8. They were Put up at different periods of history by different periods. Even to, this day, the pilgrims are generally advised by the Pandas to visit and offer worship in almost all these temples before they are taken to the Jagamohana or the porch to see the presiding deities in the sanctum sanctorum.

Jagannatha is not the only deity worshipped in the temple, though it is known as the ‘Jagannatha Temple’. But along with Jagannatha, two others namely, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are also worshipped here. These three, constitute the basic and fundamental Trinity and are considered to be the forms and manifestations of the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent supreme power. Sudarsan who is supposed to be the fourth important divine manifestation is also worshipped with the celebrated trio and these four are known as the Caturdha murti or the four-fold divine images. Besides, Madhava, a replica of Jagannatha, Sridevi and Bhudevi are also installed in the sanctum sanctorum and worshipped.

 

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STORY/LEGEND

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

EXPERIENCES

  • Can hire a pandit but dont give too much.
  • He will ask you to buy prasad from some govt. shop and say that he will take it inside. You can buy the same, but the minimum amount is enough.
  • He will help you when in front of idol so that you are able to stand there for sometime.
  • After that he will go inside and ask you to wait till he comes out.
  • You can wait for sometime. 200/- is enough to give the pandit.
  • There are other small temples within the complex. There is a maa lakshmi temple. It has two entrance. One which goes inside near the idol. From other entrance you can see the idol from far only. It is around 20 -30m.
  • Inside the temple there are many pandits who will say put some money here and take Ashirwad etc. Its upto you. I suggest you can carry small notes and put them there.

INCREDIBLE FACTS

The flag atop the temple has been observed to flap in the opposite direction of the breeze.

Irrespective of where you stand in Puri, it seems to you that the Sudarshana Chakra on top of the temple is always facing you.

Usually in coastal areas during the day-time, the breeze blows from the sea towards the land and during evening hours it blows from the land towards the sea. But in the case of Puri it is the reverse.

No birds fly above the Jagannath temple in Puri.

The shadow of the main dome of Jagannath temple is not visible, whatever be the time of day. Maybe an architectural feat or the Lord’s desire.

The food cooked inside the temple everyday will not go waste.

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