Over two lakhs of devotees on Sunday thronged the Pilgrim City to witness the annual Snana Purnima, a major ritual before the Rath Yatra.
The Daita servitors entered the temple and took charge of the affairs from regular priests to prepare the deities for ‘Pahandi’. Early in the morning, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, Sudarshan and Madanmohan were brought out from the sanctum sanctorum amidst chanting of Jai Jagannath and beating of drums, cymbals and ghantas and blowing of bugles. The ‘Pahandi’ began at 6.45 am.
The Trinity were taken to the bathing altar at the outer temple complex where they were bathed with 108 pitchers of aromatic and herbal water from the golden well of the temple. Total 35 pitchers of water for Lord Jagannath, 33 for Lord Balabhadra, 22 for Devi Subhara and 18 pitchers for the Sudarshan were used. At this stage, the rituals were delayed by two hours.
The foremost servitor of the Lord, Gajapati Dibyasingh Deb, came in a procession from his palace and conducted the ceremonial Chherapahanra atop the Snana Bedi. After performing a complex set of rituals, the servitors decked the Trinity in ‘Hati Vesha’, incarnation of Lord Ganesh. The priests then offered prasad to the deities before allowing public for darshan.
The ‘Vesha’ was completed by 6.30 pm and the deities were offered prasad before ‘Sahana Mela’ or public darshan was allowed.
Late in the night, they were escorted to a solitary place in the temple complex - ‘Anasar Ghar’ (sick room).
The deities, supposedly suffering from fever after taking the bath, would remain on bed for 15 days. During this time, public darshan is closed in the main temple and representative deities are placed in the sanctum sanctorum.
As per convention and religious belief, Lord Jagannath manifests in Alarnath Dev in Brahmagiri. Devotees in large numbers rush to Alarnath temple, 23 km from Puri and offer Kheer Prasad. Public view of the deities called ‘Nabayoubana’ darshan would be allowed a day prior to the Rath Yatra.
As many as 45 platoons of armed police, anti-terrorist expert commandos besides a large number of police officers of various ranks were deployed while scores of intelligence sleuths kept close vigil on the crowd to ensure safe and smooth conduct of the rituals. Metal detector gates and close circuit cameras (CCTVs) were used to monitor the crowd.
District Magistrate Naba Kumar Nayak, SP Anup Kumar Sahu, Chief Administrator of the temple Aravind Padhee and DGP Prakash Mishra were present. This year, Rath Yatra will be celebrated on July 10.