I could not think of a better time than Dola Yatra (Holi) to write about Lord Jagannath as we celebrate the festival of colours in honor of Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Holi is celebrated as a grand festival and a huge number of devotees visit the temple in this time of the year.
One among the Char Dham in India, Lord Jagannath temple, Puri
The Lord Jagannath temple is located in Puri, a small city in the state of Odisha. It is a Vaishnava temple and is one among the char dham (Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri, Rameswaram) of the Hindu mythology. It is mainly visited by the devotees of Lord Sri Krishna. The temple is sacred and has a history behind it existence. It is said that Lord Krishna appeared in the dreams of king Indradyumna and asked him to construct a temple of him in the name of “Jagannath”. There are many more stories associated with the temple which can be heard from the Pandas (priests) and the local people. Saints like Adi Shankaracharya, Ramananda. Ramanuja were associated with the temple.
Lord Jagannath which means “Lord of the Universe”, is a avatar of Lord Vishnu or Krishna and is worshiped by the Hindus and Buddhists.
Architecture of the Jagannath temple
The architecture of the temple is in Oriya style and covers a huge area of 4,00,000 square feet. The main temple has a Chakra which is known as the “Nila Chakra” made up of Astha-dhatu (eight metals). It is a custom of the temple to change the flag of the Nila Chakra (i.e Patita Pavana) everyday between 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM. This ritual is being performed everyday without any interruption since past 800 years. The devotees gather at the temple in large numbers during this time of the evening to see the flag hoisting ceremony. The old flags are given to the devotees in exchange of some amount.
The temple has four entrances named “Singahwara -the lion gate“, “Hathidwara – the elephant gate“, “Vyaghawara – the tiger gate” and “Ashwadwara- the horse gate“. “Singahwara” is the main entrance and has two statue of lions on either side of the gate. In front of it is the “Aruna Stambha” pillar which is said to be of the same height as of the idols inside the main temple.
There are many small temples surrounding the main temple. The temple also has a huge kitchen and there are many rules which has to be followed by the cooks; there are also many stories associated with the kitchen. It is said that the kitchen is observed by Mahalakshmi. Lord Jagannath is said to be very fond of eating and therefore food is offered to him six times a day. The “Mahaprasad” which is very delicious is distributed among the devotees.
The main festivals celebrated by the temples are
- Dola Yatra – Celebrated in the month of Vasanta. It is a festival of colours.
- Chandan Yatra – Celebrated in Akshay Tritiya.
- Snan Yatra – Celebrated on Purnima in the month of Jyestha.
- Anasara – It means vacation and is celebrated after the Snan Yatra.
- Rath Yatra – It is the biggest festival and is celebrated in the month of Asadha. The idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are brought out into the main street on a chariot and is taken to the Gundicha temple where the idols are kept for nine days.
- Niladri Bije – It is the concluding day of the Rath Yatra.
- Gupta Gundicha – Celebrated from Ashwina Krushna dwitiya to Vijaydashami.
- Nava Kalebara – This is the most important festival of the temple. In this event new idol of Lords are the installed in the temple. This ceremony takes place 8,12 or 18 years when one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Ashadha.
Darshan Timings ( Visiting times for Jagannath temple, Puri )
- The temple remains open from 5am to 12 in the midnight.
- Sahana Mela or Public Darshan can be done without any entry fee following the Abakasha puja between 7AM to 8AM.
- Parimanik Darshan or Special Darshan can be done by paying an entry fee of 50/- . It happens after Dhupa pujas at 10AM, 1PM and 8PM.
- Apart from the above mentioned time, the devotees can worship the idols from a distance without any entry fee.
Lord Jagannatha is an ocean of mercy and as beautifull as a row of blackish rain clouds. He is the storehouse of bliss for laksmi and Sarsavati, and his face resemble a spotless full-blow lotus the best of demigods and sages worship him and Upanisad sing his glories. May that Jagannatha Svami be the object of my vision. – A quote from the internet.
P.S – We are not able to provide you the pictures of the temple from inside as cameras are not allowed within the premises of the temple.