SUBHADRA BALADEVA SAHITA JAGANNATHA TEMPLE
Jagannath temple is Situated in Puri in Orissa, the temple of Lord Jagannatha is one of the most sacred and renowned temples in India. The names of the three deities in the temple are Lord Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra. A majestic procession is carried out with the three statues in three gigantic chariots every year. The procession is called ‘Jagannatha Ratha Yatra’. It is one of the most famous festivals of the Hindus. The Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath is being celebrated annually on the second day of the Shukla Paksha in the month of Ashadha. The ‘yatra’ is very popular among Hindu devotees and tourists due to its religious significance. The temple in Puri was built by the king Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva in the 12 century during the era of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. Jagadguru AdiShankaracharya, Sri Ramananda and Sri Ramanuja were associated with the temple. In numerable devotees from all over the world visit the temple to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath. According to the records of the temple, king Indradyumna requested Lord Brahma to prescribe the proper worship to Lord Jagannatha i.e., seva, puja and niti which included twelve annual yatras after he had installed the deities in the temple. The Ratha Yatra is the chief one among them.The three huge chariots are pulled by devotees from Janakpur to the temple. The chariot of Lord Jagannath is named as Nandighosha or Garudadhwaja or Kapiladhwaja. The Lord is accompanied by Madan Mohan. The chariot of Lord Balabhadra is named as Taladhwaja or Langaladhwaja. The Lord is accompanied by Ramakrishna.The chariot of Subhadra is named as Darpadalana or Devadalana or Padmadhwaja. The goddess is accompanied by Sudarshana.
Festival of Chariot
In Oriya, the word ‘yatra’ means journey. The means of transport for Lord Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhardra is by ‘chariot’. Lord Jagannatha travels out to bless his devotees for a period of fifteen days once in a year. It is believed that those who have the good fortune of having the darshan’of the three deities or who pull the chariots by their ropes are blessed by the Lord during the procession of the ‘yatra’. According to legends, Rathayatra is a celebration when Sri Krishna attended a religious function in Kurukshetra five thousand years ago, travelling from Dwaraka in a big chariot along with his sister Subhadra and his brother Balarama. As a recollection of the event, the Festival of Chariot takes place in Puri.
For the ‘yatra’, three gigantic chariots are being built anew for Lord Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra every year. Over one thousand logs are brought from the forests of Dasapalla and Ranpur and more than one hundred carpenters work for constructing the three chariots in a period of two months. A local cloth-mill provides nearly two thousand meters of cloth each year, and the chariots are charmingly and radiantly draped in colour. Very strong fiber ropes of coconut are used by the devotees to pull the chariots during the procession. The nails, brackets and fixtures are all made locally and the craftsmen work for a month on them. The main structure of the ‘ratha’ contains eighteen pillars and roofs. Each chariot holds nine parswadevatas’ i.e., subsidiary deities, two dwarapalakas one Sarathi i.e., the charioteer and the other is a presiding deity of the crest banner i.e., dhwajadevata and all are made of wood. The sweeping with water is a significant ritual
associated with the RathaYatra. During the ritual, the Gajapati King wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots. He cleans the road in front of the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder. As per the custom, although the Gajapati King has been considered the most exalted person in the kingdom of Kalinga, he still renders the menial and humble service to Lord Jagannatha. This ritual signifies that there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign and the humblest devotee under the lordship of Jagannatha.
If any chariot cannot reach the Gundicha Ghar on the first day, it will be dragged on the next day. On the ninth day of its return, the deities are brought to the Singhadwar area of the temple of Lord Jagannath. An important ritual performed, on the fifth day which is known as ‘Hera Panchami’, when goddess Lakshmi proceeds to Gundicha Ghar to see Lord Jagannath. In the evening of the tenth day, the deities are adorned with gold ornaments and dressed gorgeously in their respective chariots parked in the Simhadwar area. On the same day another ritual called ‘Hari Sayan Ekadasi’ is performed. On the following day i.e
the twelfth day of the bright fortnight, important ceremony known as ‘Adharapana Bhog’ is
performed. A sweet drink is offered to the deities. In the evening of the following day, the deities are taken to the temple in a traditional procession amidst the gathering of innumerable devotees.
The foreign and Indian historians have been trying to unveil the mystery of the three deities namely, Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and the goddess Subhadra worshipped in the temple for more than a century past. The antiquity of Lord Jagannatha was much concealed in mystery that it might take many years for scholars to arrive at a definite conclusion. There were a number of old works in Sanskrit which sing the glories of Orissa in general and of Puri in particular. It was believed that the history of Lord Jagannatha belonged to the age of the Rig Veda itself.
The prominent Puranas present elaborate accounts pertaining to the origin of Lord Jagannatha in an aura of mystery and divine inspiration.
Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra, and Subhadra constitute the basic and fundamental Trinity and are considered to be the forms and manifestations of the Omni-present, the Omni
potent and the Omniscient. Lord Sudarsan who is supposed to be the fourth significant divine manifestation is also being worshipped with the celebrated Trio and these four are known as the Chaturdha murti or the four-fold divine images.Lord Madhava, a replica of Lord Jagannatha, Sridevi and Bhudevi were also installed in the sanctum sanctorum for worship.
A few legendary stories related to the origin of the ‘RathYatra’ reflect the socio-religious thinking and beliefs of the devotees of the region, King Kamsa invited Lord Krishna and Balarama to Mathura in order to kill them. He sent Akrur with a chariot to Gokul. As per the request of Akrur, Lord Krishna and Balarama sat on the chariot. The devotees celebrate the day of their departur symbolically in organizing ‘Rath Yatra’. They celebrate the day when Lord Krishna, after defeating the evil Kamsa, gave them ‘darshan’ in Mathura in a chariot with his brother, Balaram .Devotees in Dwaraka celebrated the day when Lord Krishna, accompanied by Balaram, took Subhadra-his sister, for a ride on a chariot to show the city’s splendour.
It was believed that when Lord Krishna was being cremated in Dwaraka, Balaram, out of
depression, decided to drown himself into ocean with Lord Krishna’s partially cremated body. He was followed by Subhadra. At the same time, King Indradyumna of Puri dreamt that the Lord Krishna body would float up to the shores of Puri. He should build a massive statue in the city and sanctify the wooden statues of Lord Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra. The bones of Lord Krishna’s body should be put in the hollow in the statue’s back. The dream came true. The king found the splinters of the bones and took them. It is believed that the architect of gods namely Vishwakarma arrived at the place as an old carpenter. He made it clear that while carving the statues nobody should disturb him otherwise he would vanish leaving the work unfinished. Some months passed. The impatient Indradyumna opened the door of Vishwakarma’s room. Vishwakarma disappeared immediately. The statues remained unfinished without arms and feet. The king sanctified them placing Lord Krishna’s holy cinders in the hollow of the statue and installed them in the temple. May Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra shower mercy and eternal bliss on Their devout devotees.