Deva Snana Purnima also known as ‘Snana Yatra’ is an auspicious bathing festival for Lord Jagannath devotees. It is observed on the ‘Purnima’ (full moon day) of the ‘Jyeshtha’ month in the traditional Hindu calendar. Deva Snana Purnima is a significant ritual just prior to the world renowned Rath Yatra of the Jagannath Temple, in Puri. During this ritualistic bathing ceremony, the deities of the Jagannath Temple, namely, Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are worshipped with full devotion and dedication. The ceremony is observed in a traditional way with full grandeur and is also one of the most anticipated rituals of the Lord Jagannath Temple. Some even observe this festival as the birthday of Lord Jagannath. Devotees from different parts of the country come and witness this unique event.
Significance of Deva Snana Purnima:
The festival of Deva Snana Purnima holds immense religious significance for Lord Jagannath devotees. According the Hindu legends, it is believed that during the ritualistic Snana Yatra, the deities get fever and take 15 days solitary confinement. The idols appear for public viewing, only after getting reenergized. As mentioned in the ‘Skanda Purana’, King Indradyumna arranged this bathing ceremony for the first time, after the deities were installed in the Jagannath Temple. The devotees of Lord Jagannath believe that by merely getting the ‘darshan’ of their lord on the day of Deva Snana Purnima, will free them from all their sins of present and past lives. Thousands and thousands of devotees, visit the Puri Jagannath Temple for this occasion, every year.
Rituals during Deva Snana Purnima:
On the day of Jyeshtha Purnima, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are taken put from the ‘Ratnasimhasan’ of the Jagannath Puri Temple, early in the morning.
The idols are escorted in a procession that is witnessed by thousands of devotees, and brought to the ‘Snana Bedi’ or the Bathing altar. This procession is called as ‘Pahandi’ procession that is bought alive with the sounds of chanting mantras and beat of ghantas, drums, bugles and cymbals.
The water used for bathing the deities is taken from the well, present inside the Jagannath Temple. Prior to the bathing ceremony, few puja and rituals are performed by the priests. A total of 108 pitchers of herbal and aromatic water are used to bath the three main deities of the Jagannath Temple.
After the completion of the bathing ceremony, the deities are then dressed up in ‘Sada Besha’. Later in the afternoon, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are dressed again as ‘Hathi Besha’ (as a form of Lord Ganesha). A special Bhog is prepared as offering to the Lord on the day of Deva Snana Purnima. Again in the evening, the deities appear for ‘Sahanamela’, to enable public viewing.
Later during the night, the three main deities retire to the ‘Anasar’ House, located in the temple complex. During the ‘Anasara’ period, the devotees cannot see their Gods. The idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra then appear for public viewing only 15 days after, that is, the day just before the famous Rath Yatra.
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