OdishaThe Jagannath Temple is located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in Odisha. It is an important Hindu temple and is one of the four great ‘Char Dham’. It is the dhama of eastern India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath who is a form of Lord Vishnu. It is a belief that a Hindu must visit these four dhams at least once in his life time. The temple is famous for its Rath Yatra.

It’s origin:

  The history of Jagannatha is dated back to the age of the Rig Veda. The important Puranas like the Skanda Purana, the Brahma Purana, and the Narada Purana Skanda shows that the origin of Jagannatha was in an atmosphere of mystery and saintly innovation. There are references of the temple of Jagannatha even in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is believed that The Pandavas of the Mahabharata had come here and offered worship to Lord Jagannatha. The history of Jagannatha can be taken to the second century B.C.when Kharavela was the king of Kalinga. There is the mention of one Jinasana in the historic Hatigumpha inscription of King Kharvela on the top of Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar and even if it speaks of a Jaina deity, it is identified with Jagannatha. But according to the historical facts of the 9th century A.D. Sankaracharya visited Puri and founded the Govardhana Matha as the eastern dhama of India. The place where each one of the four Mathas was found by Sankara is known as dhama which means a sacred place.

 The deities:

 Along with Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Lord Subhadra are also worshiped here. They are known as the Trimurti (Trinity) though there is a mention of Chaturdhaa murtis also. Sudarsan is the fourth important divine illustration and is also worshiped with the Trimurti and these four are known as the Caturdha murti or the four-fold divine images. Also, Madhava a replica of Jagannatha, Sridevi and Bhudevi are also worshiped.

The structure of the temple:

The temple faces the east side and consists of four structures (a) the Vimana or Bada Deula sanctum sanctorum (b) the Jagamohan or Mukhasala (the porch), (c) the Natamandir (the audience hall) and (d) the Bhogamandap (the offerings hall).The temple covers an area of more than 400,000 square feet and is surrounded by a high wall which is known as the Meghanada Pacheri. Another wall, kurma bedha surrounds the main temple which has 120 temples and shrines. The main temple is a curved temple and on top of it is the ‘srichakra’ of Lord Vishnu also known as the “Nilachakra” and as per custom every day, a different flag is waved on the Nila Chakra which is known as the Patita Pavana.

The Singahdwara is one of the four gates to the temple and is the Main entrance. The gate faces east opening on to the Bada Danda. The Baisi Pahacha leads to the temple complex and an idol of Jagannath known as Patitapavana is painted on the right side of the entrance. There are also three other entrances facing north, south, and west. They are known as the Hathidwara or the Elephant Gate, the Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate and the Ashwadwara or the Horse Gate. There are smaller temples within the temple complex. The Vimala Temple is located near Rohini Kund in the temple complex. There is the temple of Mahalakshmi and the Kanchi Ganesh Temple, Muktimandap, Surya, Saraswati, Bhuvaneshwari, Narasimha, Rama, Hanuman, and Eshaneshwara. There are many Mandapas within the temple complex for religious gatherings and the most important of them is the Mukti Mandapa.

Jagannath Puri TempleThe festivals:

 Chandan Yatra festival marks the beginning of the construction of the Chariots of the Rath Yatra.

 The Gods are bathed and decorated every year on the occasion of Snana Yatra during Purnima on the Jyestha month and after this occasion the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra   and   Sudarshan on the Jyeshta Purnima  go to a hidden place known as Anavasara Ghar where they remain for the next dark fortnight and so the devotees are not allowed to see them. During this period cooked food is not given to the deities.

Ratha Yatra:

 The most important festival the Ratha Yatra is also known as the Gundicha Yatra.  It takes place in the month of Asadha (June – July) every year. It is a nine-day festival and here the deities are taken to the Gundicha temple from the main temple in three chariots made for each of the three deities. Special names are given to these three chariotS:(i) Jagannatha – Nandighosa'(ii) Balabhadra Taladhvaja and (iii) Subhadra – Devadalana.  The chariots reach the Gundicha temple on the first day of the festival by evening and on a ninth day, the deities are brought back to the main temple on the same chariots. The return journey is called Bahuda Yatra. The orders in which the chariots move from the temple gate towards the Gundicha temple are (a) Balabhadra, (b) Subhadra and then (c) Jagannatha. After the deities are placed on the chariots, the Raja of Puri sweeps the floor of the chariots and this is a great attraction during the Ratha Yatra. It is said that Gundicha temple is the birth place of Lord Jagannatha.

 Niladri Bije is the last day of Ratha yatra.

Gupta Gundicha is celebrated for 16 days from Ashwina Krushna Dwitiya to Vijayadashami where he idol of Madhaba and Goddess Durga) is taken on a tour of the temple premises.

Naba Kalabera happens when one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha. Here new images in the temples are placed and the old ones are buried in the temple premises at Koili Vaikuntha.

The Mahaprasad:

The Mahaprasad is very important and is treated as ‘Anna Bramha’. It is cooked in earthen pots and medium of food is fire wood only. The steam-cooked food is given to Lord Jagannath first and then to Goddess Bimala after which it becomes Mahaprasad. It is distributed amongst the devotees near the Ratnavedi inside the frame of Phokaria.  This Mahaprasad is taken by people of all castes and creeds without any discrimination. The Mahaprasad includes cooked rice, dal, vegetable curry, sweet-dishes, cakes etc. Dry confectioneries are made of sugar, gur, wheat flour, ghee, milk and cheese etc.and are sold in Anand Bazar of the temple which is situated on the north east corner of the outer enclosure of the temple. The tourists carry a particular type of dry Mahaprasad known as Khaja.

The Entry and the Darshan:

 The temple has 4 entrances in all directions. Devotees are even allowed to go behind the idols and during the Sahana Mela the devotees can go right up to the idols without paying anything and during Parimanik darshan devotees have to pay a little amount to go right up to the idols. At other times devotees view the deities from some distance for free. 2 or 6 weeks before the Rathyatra there is a ritual of Lord undergoing “Bhukaar” and so the idols are not on “Darshan”.

 The Management and Security of the Temple:

 Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 was enacted to look after the management system of the temple and its surrounding properties. There are enough security forces to ensure smooth functioning of the crowded Ratha Yatra and Suna Besha.

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The Jagannath Temple is located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in Odisha. It is an important Hindu temple and is one of the four great 'Char Dham'. It is the dhama of eastern India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath who is a form of...