Lakhs witness Lord’s ‘Bathing Ceremony’ in Puri

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By Our Correspondent

PURI: Tens of thousands of devotes on Monday thronged the pilgrim city of Puri to witness the Haati Vesha of Lord Jagannath and His elder brother Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra and Lord Sudarshan on the occasion of Snan Purnima.

Despite all efforts, the rituals ran three hours behind the schedule. As per the ritual time schedule released by the temple, the Pahandi, which was to begin by 4 am, began at 7 am. And, all the rituals following the Pahandi were delayed.

The Daita servitors known as body protectors of the deities escorted the deities from the Ratnasimhasan to the Snan Vedi (bathing altar) located close to Meghanad Prachir of the temple in a colourful Pahandi procession.

Thereafter, Mangal Arati, Milam, Abakash and many other chores of the deities were performed on the altar. The deities were then dressed up in bathing suits by the servitors.  The Garabdu servitors drew water from a specially designated well in the temple complex.

The servitors accorded the deities 108 pitchers of aromatic bath. Earlier, Gajapati Dibyasingh Dev, foremost servitor of the temple, came in a procession from his palace in a palanquin and performed “Chherapahanra” (sweeping on the altar by a gold broom).

Sankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth Swamy Nischalananda Saraswati went to the altar and offered prayers. Simhari servitors (dressers of the deities) dressed the deities in a spectacular Haati Vesha. It took them about two hours to complete the vesha.

Scores of devotees had darshan of the devotees from the barricades while most of them witnessed the Vesha from the Simhadwar area of Badadanda as the deities were clearly visible on the Snaan Vedi.

Elaborate arrangements were made by the police for smooth movement of the devotees. 49 platoons of police with nearly 300 officers of various ranks were deployed to ensure safety and security of the deities and the pilgrims.

Late in the night, after the undoing of the Vesh, the deities would be taken to the Anasar house (sick room) where they would spend about 15 days for supposedly suffering from fever. The temple physician would treat them with herbal drugs and they would remain on fruit diet. Darshan of the deities will be closed for a fortnight in the temple.

The devotees would rush to Alarnath temple, 23 km away along the Puri- Brahmagiri route, to witness the deities and taste the Kheer Bhog. As per popular belief, the Lord during this fortnight manifests in the Alarnath. No untoward incident was reported.

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