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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What do I need to know about the Shri Jagannath Puri?

Aloke Bajpai DEC 10 2012
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One of the four Dhams, Jagannath Puri is a very popular Hindu Temple which is dedicated to the avatars of Lord Vishnu. The forms of Jagannath, Balabhadra and the Goddess Subhadra make the trinity sitting on the Ratnavedi, a bejewelled platform in the inner sanctum. Located in the coastal town of Puri in Orissa, this temple attracts visitors and worshippers from all over the country and the world. Entry to all practicing hindus of non-Indian descent and Hindus of non-Indian origins is restricted. Although, the temple is doing away with the restrictions by letting Hindus of non-Indian origins in the premises, those who are not allowed can view the precincts from the roof of Raghunandan Library.

Interestingly, the temple is said to be built atop its ruins in the 11th century. Some believe that the site had a famous Buddhist stupa named Dantapura which might have housed the tooth relic of Buddha before it was shifted to its present location in Sri Lanka. The kitchen in the temple premises is considered to be the biggest kitchen in the world which is believed to be blessed by the Goddess Mahalakshmi. It is said that if there is any fault with the food that is cooked in the kitchen, a shadow dog appears near the kitchen which is a sign of the Goddess' displeasure and the food is re-cooked. The food here is cooked without onions and garlic in earthen pots strictly following all Hindu traditions. The water used in cooking is taken from two special wells named Ganga and Yamuna. A total of 56 varieties is offered to the deities, near ratnavedi as in bhoga mandap on five particular muhurtas (auspicious times). The same food after offering to the deities is distributed among the devotees as Mahaprasad and is considered to be divine.

The temple is also famous as the starting point for one of the biggest chariot festivals, Rath Yatras that mostly take place in the month of June. In this festival, the three main temple deities are hauled on grand and exquisitely decorated raths or temple cars. This is associated with great religious fervour since the medieval times.

You can be a part of the festival and can also help in dragging the temple cars. If not that, you can get a look of the Lord by standing on the sides of the path followed in the festival. You can also donate money called as Chadawa during these times. Also, for taking blessings from the Lord inside the sanctum sanctorum, you will have to pay a fee to enter the inner chambers and hence getting your wish fulfilled of touching the deities and showering in their grace. You can also sit with the pandits there to hear stories about the origins of the temple who sometimes ask for you to be a part of several pujas that take place there which might also attracts some heavy bucks from your pocket.

Now after knowing so much about the temple, you definitely want to visit, right? So, what are you waiting for? Go explore, pay your respects and get some blessings in return.

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