Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, the presiding sibling Deities of Jagannath Temple remained out of bounds for devotees from today for a fortnight, as the Deities fell ‘sick' after taking grand bath on the traditional occasion of Snana Purnima (bathing ritual) festival today.
The Deities, whose daily rituals include activities akin to the lifestyle of humans, will undergo treatment by the shrine vaidyas (Ayurveda doctors) till July 10th. People cannot have interaction with the ‘ailing' Deities during these days. Their Lordships will fully recuperate on July 11th and will appear before pilgrims looking rejuvenated on the occasion of navajauvan darshan (rejuvenation) on that day.
Puri was packed with pilgrims jostling for space to have a glimpse of the bathing ceremony of the Deities at Jagannath Temple today. Snana Purnima is a major festival observed prior to the Rath Yatra, to be held this year on July 13th.
Earlier in the morning, the three Deities were escorted out of the temple's sanctum sanctorum by the priests (daita servitors) in a boisterous procession, called Pahandi. The Deities were ferried to the bathing altar located at the outer temple complex, facing the Grand Road. They were given ceremonial bath after the completion of a set of rituals.
"A total 108 pitchers of aromatic and herbal water was fetched from a particular well (suna kua) in the temple for the Lords' bathing. That well remains unused till the next year's bathing ceremony. Thereafter the Deities were decorated in elephant attire symbolizing the incarnation of Lord Ganesha," said Laxmidhar Pujapanda, the Public Relations Officer of the temple.
"In late night today, the Deities would be taken to the anasara ghar (known as sick room) of the temple where they would undergo treatment for a fortnight," Pujapanda said.
Since Their Lordships remain inaccessible for fifteen days, pilgrims can have the darshan of the representatives of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra during these days.
"The representatives of the Deities would be painted on a canvas and kept inside the sanctum sanctorum. The representative idols are Lord Basudeva, devi Bhubaneswari and Narayan. Besides, idols of Gods like Madan Mohan, Sridevi, Bhudevi, Rama, Krishna, Nrushingha and Dolagobinda would be installed in sanctum sanctorum," the temple PRO informed.
Security was increased, keeping in mind the maddening rush in and outside the temple. Over 40 platoons of armed police and nearly 400 police officers were deployed to avoid any untoward incident. "The Snana Purnima festival was peaceful and incident-free," said Puri Additional Superintendent of Police, Pratap Mohanty.