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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Lord Jagannath's Snan Yatra

Appearance Day of LOrd JAgannath Balaram and Subhadra Devi in This
Material World to Shower Mercy on us !!!!!!

Snan Yatra

A special bath of Jagannath takes place on the Purnima of Jyestha
month (Devasnan Purnima), to commemorate the appearance day of Lord

According to Skanda Purana when Raja Indradyumna installed the wooden
deities he arranged this bathing ceremony. This day considered to be
the birth-day of Lord jagannath. Held in the full-moon day of the
month of Jyestha this festival is also simultaneously held in all
other important Puri, it attracts thousands of visitors and pilgrims
from all over the country.

'Niladri Mohadaya', a religious text written in Orissan (Oriya)
records the rituals of the festival. Sriharsa in his 'naisadhiya
Charita' (XV.89) also refers to this festival of Purushottama. This
bathing ceremony has a speciality. As this festival does not find
mention in the early religious texts, it is believed to be a tribal
ceremony. Lord.Jagannath in His early form was being worshipped as
Nilamadhava by a Savara chief called Viswabasu. The story is nicely
told in the drama Jagannath Priyan natakam. Till now it is the Daitas
and Savars (tribals) who have the exclusive right to conduct the
festival. The tribals called Saoras (of southern Orissa) still perform
a rite to bath their Deities ceremonially on the last day of the month
of Jyestha. For this they collect water from remote Jungles where it
remains untouched even by the shadow of the animals.

On the previous day of Snana Yatra the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra
and Subhadra along with the image of Sudarshana are ceremonially
brought out from the sanctum in a procession to the Snana-vedi
(Bathing pandal). This special pandal in the temple precinct of Puri
is called Snana Mandap. It is at such a height that visitors standing
outside the temple also gate a glimpse of the Deities.

On the fourteenth day (Chaturdashi - the day before the bathing -
Purnima) when the Deities are taken out in procession, the whole
process is called Pahandi or Pahandi vijay. Scholars have given
different interpretations of the term ('Pahandi'). Some opine that it
has been derived from the term 'Praspanda' meaning movement. Some
others are inclined to interpret it as derivation from Pandya vijaya.
For the festival the the Snana Vedi (bathing platform) is well
decorated with traditional paintings of trees and gardens. Flags and
toranas (arches strung with mango leaves) are also put up. The Deities
are profusely decorated with flowers. All kinds of perfumes such as
Dhupa (incense), Aguru (oils) etc. are then offered. As the 'Pahandi'
of the Deities takes place to the accompaniment of music and beating
of various indigenous drums. Thousands of devotees jostle and crave
for a look at the Deities in procession.

In Puri the bathing procedure is as follows: After Mangala Arati, the
Suaras and Mahasuaras go in a ceremonial procession to fetch water
from Suna Kua (Golden well) in one hundred and thirty, vessels of
copper and gold. All of them cover their mouths with a piece of cloth
so as not to contaminate it even with their breath. Then all the
vessels filled with water are preserved in the Bhoga Mandap. The Palla
pandas (a class of Brahmin priests) then purify the water with Haridra
(turmeric), Java (whole rice), Benachera, Chandan, Aguru, flowers,
perfumes and medicinal herbs.

The bathing festival takes place during the morning hours of the
purnima tithi. The filled vessels are carried from Bhoga Mandap to the
Snana Vedi by the Suaras in a long single-line procession. This ritual
is called 'Jaladhibasa' (Jala - water, abhishek - bath).

Prior to the bathing ceremony Jagannath, Baladeva and is Subhadra,
covered in silken cloth and then smeared with red powder, are taken in
procession to a platform which is specially decorated and purified
with water and incense. One hundred and eight gold vessels are filled
with water taken from a special well containing waters from all the
holy tirthas. Abhiseka is performed with this water, accompanied by
the chanting of vedic (Pavamana Sukta) mantras, kirtana and blowing of
conch shells.

Due to the amount of bathing liquids that are offered to cool the
Lord's transcendental body at this time, bear in mind that this is the
hottest time in India just prior to the refreshing monsoon rains, His
painted form takes a bit of a wash-out. The colouration of the Deity's
faces are painted on with natural earthly mineral paints not modern
oil based paints, so when water is applied to cool Their forms it also
has the effect of washing away the features of he former painting. As
usual the Lord has a plan to make everything go smoothly. To bridge
the episode of His bathing and the period that He comes out to bless
everyone for Rathyatra He organized some special pastimes by which he
devotees can serve Him and remember His wonderful forms.

So to keep a wonderful mood of seeing the Lord in an uplifting manner
the Lord arranged for the Hati Vesha festival where Lord Jagannatha
and Lord Balaram then puts on the elephant dress, Hati Vesha, and Lady
Subhadra wears a lotus flower vesha.

The original story is told in several different ways, some call Hati
snan (elephant bath) some call Ganesh abhishek as they identify the
following story as being the original cause of the Lord to wear this
elephant vesh for His devotee: It is said that a staunch devotee of
Lord Ganesh and himself a profound scholar visited Puri during Snana
Yatra. He was amply rewarded by the king of Orissa for his
scholarship. The king asked the scholar to accompany him to see Lord
Jagannath which he refused under the pretext that he wouldn't worship
any "God" other than his Ishthadevata Ganesh. Somehow he was persuaded
and brought before the Snana vedi. To the utter surprise of all, Lord
Jagannath appeared with an elephantine form that resembled as Ganesh.
Since then during Snana Yatra when the sacred bath is performed, the
Deities are dressed like like elephants - resembling Ganesh. Various
other legends are also told and reasons assigned explaining the Ganesh
besa (vesha).

During the sacred bath the colours painted on the images generally
fade. seeing the wooden deities in discolour devotees may not have the
appropriate devotional attitude and in fact may feel sinful
repugnance. For this reason, the images are immediately dressed in the
Hati vesha (besa) in which they remain mostly covered.

After the Snana Yatra, the Deities are kept away from public view for
fifteen days and during all these days the daily rites of the temple
remain suspended. As Jagannatha himself instructed, after this
ceremony, he is not seen for a fortnight. The Deities are kept on a
special "sick room" called the Ratan vedi inside the temple. This
period is called 'Anabasara kala' meaning improper time for worship.
It has been said earlier that the Deities are discoloured as a result
of the sacred bath - some say look a bit off colour........ During
these fifteen days the Daitas (descendants of Viswavasu, the Savara)
repaint and restore the Deities and Jagannath's fine decorations. The
period of colouring and decorating the Deities is divided into seven
short periods, each of two days duration, and a short period of one
day set apart to give finishing touches. Thus the period covers the
whole fortnight. On the 16th day the Deities in their new forms after
renovation become ready for the public view - darshan. The festival of
the first appearance of the Lord Jagannath to his devotees is called
Netrotsava (festival for the eyes) or Nava Yauvanotsava (festival of
the ever new youth). According to priests of the Jagannath temple the
devotee washes away all his sins if he gets a vision of the Lord on
this day. On this occasion, therefore, great rush of people occurs in
the temple.

The Shilpa Shastras and Agamas testify that the Deities become
suitable for worship only after the performance of the rite of
'Chakshyu Unmilana' (Opening of the eyes). During 'Anabasara', the
Daitas offer to the Deities only fruits and water mixed with cheese,
and and Dasa mula medicines to cure his fever.. In a devotional mood
the devotees accept that due to all the bathing the Lord becomes
transcendentally poorly, and therefore needs to take rest. Like human
beings they are considered to have fallen ill and are treated by the
Raj Vaidya or the King's physician with specific medicines

The temple-festivals which are held in a bigger and elaborate scale in
the important shrines of Puri and Bhubaneswar are also held
simultaneously in all other small shrines of the respective Deities,
though in modest scales. Likewise the Snana Yatra is held in many
other temples of Orissa, and now all over the world.

A short video of the annual Snana Yatra festival (bathing of Lord Jagannatha) in Puri recorded in June, 2007. Once a year the deities of Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out of the temple for a bathing ceremony. This occurs approximately two weeks before the Ratha Yatra festival. In this video you can see Lord Jagannatha dressed in hativesh, the "elephant dress".

Other deities may also receive abhiseka on this day. One should
perform puja and bathe the Deities with water or panca gavya and
pancamrta while chanting the vedic mantras like purusa sukta.

Snan Yatra & Hati Vesha Utsav by Jaya Tirtha Charan dasan

The Snan yatra bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannath has become one of
the most popular festivals on the Iskcon calendar over the years since
His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad introduced
it to the world outside of India. Traditionally this festival has been
going on since the time of the carving of the 'Dharu-brahman' Deities
of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram, and Lady Subhadra in Sri Purushottam
Kshetra (Jagannath Puri) thousands of years ago, commemorating Their
sacred appearance for Their devotees - primarily the saintly King
Maharaj Indradyumna.
Many of you would know that after the bathing ceremony the Lord
catches a transcendental chill, are fed sweet foods and drinks to
break Their fever, and then retires for Their 'Anavasara kala' -
recuperation period. In Jagannath Puri where the Deities are painted
with natural mineral paints, after the bathing ceremony the paints
have a tendency to run and the Deities would be not viewable to the
general public. So to allow the devotees to partake further in the
Lord's pastimes, They made a special arrangement with one 'brahmin'
who came to visit to take 'darshan' at this time.

Lord Sri Krishna, Jagannath is the Lord of the Universe and so in
essence is the original creator of everything, nothing exists without
Him. In one sense then everything is Him, at least coming from Him.
Just as in the creation of a by-product from an original source the
by-product has it’s existence by association with the original object.
Shastra gives the example of milk being transformed into yogurt for a
functionary analogy of Krishna being like the original source (milk in
this case) and lord Shiva being like yogurt, having come in contact
with a culture for his functionary activities in the material world.
The milk therefore in one sense created yogurt, but that yogurt can
never again become milk. Therefore it, although one in origin, it is
different, becoming secondary or mutated potency and therefore lessor
in potency and function.
Sripad Shankaracarya taught a very dangerous philosophy called
pancopasika (païcopäsanä – Chaitanya Chairitamrta Adi-lila 7:151.
Purport; Madhya-lila 9:360. purport), which wrongly inferred that the
Lord and His primary creation, and the predominating Deities of it
were equal in potency to Him. He said that Lord Vishnu, Ganesh, Shiva,
Surya, Laxmi (Durga, Kali, Saraswati) were/are equal which to us, and
to Lord Vishnu is to be considered as a grave offense (çivasya
çré-viñëor ya iha guëa-nämädi-sakalaà / dhiyä bhinnaà paçyet sa khalu
hari-nämähita-karaù. – Padma Purana.)
In various places it is phrased slightly different ways; (2) to
consider the Lord and the demigods to be on the same level or to think
that there are many gods (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Sri
Chaitanya Charitamrta Adi-lila 7:73., purport.) (b) to consider the
name of Lord Çiva or any other demigod to be equally as powerful as
the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (no one is equal
to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor is anyone superior to
Him)(A.C. Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada. SB 7:5:23-24. Purport.) ”The
second offense is to see the holy names of the Lord in terms of
worldly distinction. The Lord is the proprietor of all the universes,
and therefore He may be known in different places by different names,
but that does not in any way qualify the fullness of the Lord. Any
nomenclature which is meant for the Supreme Lord is as holy as the
others because they are all meant for the Lord. Such holy names are as
powerful as the Lord, and there is no bar for anyone in any part of
the creation to chant and glorify the Lord by the particular name of
the Lord as it is locally understood. They are all auspicious, and one
should not distinguish such names of the Lord as material
commodities.”(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad bhagavatam
2:1:11. Purport.)

sthävara-jaìgama dekhe, nä dekhe tära mürti
sarvatra haya nija iñöa-deva-sphürti

“A Vaiñëava never sees the material form of anything, moving or
nonmoving. Rather, everywhere he looks he sees the energy of the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, and immediately he remembers the
transcendental form of the Lord.”

This wonderfully merciful and enlivening story of the Lord knowing the
heart of His devotee, and personally bestowing His mercy upon him has
nothing what so ever with that deviant philosophy.
The story goes that this 'brahmin' was a devotee of Lord Jagannath,
but for some reason expected to see the elephant-headed deva, Ganesh,
in the temple. The 'brahmin' was somewhat disappointed seeing the deva
/ demigod not there, and that Lord Jagannath had been bathed already
and that They were looking a bit 'off colour' with Their mineral paint
colours running. In many ways the hearts’ desire of that devotee were
unfulfilled. Then that night, knowing his heart, the Lord appeared to
the devotee in a dream and told him to go back to the temple and he
would not be disappointed. Rather all his desires would be fulfilled
by worshipping Lord Jagannath and not by separatedly worshipping any
deva (Bhagavad Gita 9:23.).
The all merciful Lord then appeared to his devotee; Lord Jagannath and
Lord Balaram assumed the appearance of beautifully decorated
elephants, while Lady Subhadra decorated Herself as a Lotus flower.
From that time on they began the Hati Vesha (Elephant Mask) festival.
Consequently some call it the Hati-vesh festival, some the Ganesh-vesh
festival. Both are correct – the Lord assumed a special form to
satisfy His devotee, just as in other cultures we hear stories of the
Lord appearing to Moses in the form of a Burning Bush, or to Mohammed
in the form of sound, or as with Jagannath in the form of the
Dharu-brahman logs that washed up upon the ocean shore to be carried
by the sabara Virabhadra, and fashioned by the architect of the devas
Vishvakarma into the wonderful forms of Sriyuts Jagannath, Baladeva
and Subhadra maharani we see before us.

Formerly when we were in Mayapur we had the rare opportunity to
discuss through some local devotees (Jananirvas and Pakajanagrhi
prabhus) with 'pujaris' from Jagannath Puri who were helping to
authenticate Iskcon's 'seva' to the Lord at the Jagannath temple in
Mayapur. They described to me the festival, and how to execute it.
Since then we began that festival in Melbourne, Australia where the
festival is still an escalating favourite with all of the congregation
of devotees.
In essence the festival begins with Their Lordships coming to the
Snan-Vedi. At this time everyone there gets the great blessing of
being able to render the service of bathing the Lord in nectarean
natural bathing substances. After that the Deities return to the altar
to be cleaned off, where They are tended by Their 'sevaks'. The
Deities are then dressed in their 'Hati Veshes' (Elephant Masks) and
offered a wonderful myriad of sweets and sticky buns, cakes, and local
delicacies - as all elephants, and especially These Transcendental
Ones, love. The curtains are again opened leaving the food offerings
of love for all to see before the Lord. The 'Arati' ceremony is then
performed, and according to the Jagannath pujaris, traditionally it is
accepted that the Lord bestows all benedictions and blessings upon
those fortunate enough to be there to see Them there in Their Elephant
masks. After the 'Arati' the Deities retire to Their 'Anavasara' rest
rooms to 'restore the colour to Their cheeks', where the Lord will be
served in private intimacy for the next couple of weeks up to the
'netrotsava' or 'nava yauvanotsava' - first restoration 'darshan'.
The abundance of offerings are then distributed for a small donation
to all the eager devotees who wait to savour the culinary blessings of
the Lord too.
Their Lordships now have their very own Hati Veshes so that everyone
may participate in this transcendental festival.

In India Snan Yatra arrives at a very appropriate time.

The scenario is like this;

First comes Chandan Yatra - the weather is so hot by now that one
constantly sweats and sweats. The only thing to really provide one
with a cooling solution is to cover oneself with sandal wood pulp. As
the sandal wood dries it protects one from the heat, and any sweat
that does come out moistens the sandalwood which when touched by a
breeze gives amazing relief from the heat.

Then comes Snan Yatra. By now the heat is stifling, all that anyone
wants to do is submerge themselves in the waters of the Yamuna, or the
Bay of Bengal in Jagannath Puri. The only solace is water - and so the
Supreme enjoyer also enacts this wonderful of bathing with His
If anyone has the great good fortune to go to Vrindavan during Snan
Yatra it is the most transcendental time - for me at least it's the
nicest time of year. At every temple, in all of Vrindavan, every Deity
comes into festive bathing mood. It's the most amazing thing, to go
from temple to temple enjoying seeing and participating in the Lord's
transcendental festival of Snan Yatra.
At the Sri Radha Raman temple there is the most spectacular festival
( ask who has been there - during snan yatra?) The Deity of Radha
Ramanji is brought to the front of the pitha/altar - first there's a
spectacular arati for Him - followed by all manner of offerings - then
the Lord is sprayed with water from two shower-like sprays one either
side of Him. Under the sprays are coloured lights which tastefully go
on and off and different colours while the Lord stands there playing
on His flute.
The Radha Raman temple is so designed that the devotees have built in
a sprinkler system all round the top of the wall, and even on the
fans. After the Lord takes His bath, all the devotees take their bath
- as the sprinkler system is turned on. And actually proving the
practical nature of these transcendental festivals it is so nice and

The Lord's festivals go on as the weather increases in it's heat and
humidity. The Lord then goes out on His Rath chariot under a canopy
protected from the rain, and blistering sun that alternate during the
journey on Rathyatra day.

Then as the humidity increases, raining most days, muggy like
anything, sometimes 98% humidity is recorded for days in Vrindavan,
and the temperature is 35+ the last thing that you want is water.
The air is thick with water, and there's not a breeze to be found - so
the Lord then comes to His Jhulan swing, and enjoys His transcendental
rasa of being swung by His loving devotees.

The essence is that we at these times give pleasure to the Lord, by
providing Him with the service that He requires to keep cool. By that
service the Lord blesses us with love, and remembrance for Him.

Just like today we're observing this Snan yatra. Everyone will get the
chance to come forward, after purifying your hands, and assist in
bathing the transcendental form of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Lady
Afterwards the Deities will go back into the Deity room momentarily
to get cleaned up, and dried. Then following in the tradition of
Jagannath Puri we'll offer the Lord a feast of sweetmeats, for the
Lord to enjoy in His form of the Hati Vesha.

The festival begins with Their Lordships coming to the Snan-Vedi. At
this time everyone here gets the great blessing of being able to
render the service of bathing the Lord in nectarean natural bathing

But don't go afterwards, take a little prasadam, and then come back
because according to the tradition in Puri Lord Jagannath and His
Transcendental Brother and Sister pour profuse blessing upon everyone,
EVERYONE, who come to see Them dressed in Their Hati Veshes.

So please have a great time, and help us give a cooling pleasure to
Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Lady Subhadra.

Kirtan begins: Jaya Jagannath
Deities come to the Snan Vedi:

Sri Sriyuts Jagannath, Baladeva, Srimati Subhadra Maharani Snan-yatra
& Hati Vesha Utsav ki jaya.

Please Chant:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
And be a part of spreading the Holy name of Lord !!!

1 comment:

    It is believed to be a tribal ceremony which later crept into the Hindu rites. On this auspicious day the Suaras and Mahasuaras go in a ceremonial procession to fetch 108 pots of water from the Golden well (called 'Suna Kua' ). The holy water drawn from this well once a year. During the entire process all of ...them cover their mouths with a piece of cloth so as not to contaminate it even with their breath. Then all the pots filled with water are preserved in the Bhoga Mandap. Then the priests purify the water with Haladi (turmeric), Java (whole rice), Sandal (Chandan), flowers and perfumes. The filled and purified water pots then carried from Bhoga Mandap to the bathing platform by the Suaras in a long single line queue. This ritual is called 'Jalabhisheka'. 'Jalabhishek' consists of two words 'Jala' and 'Abhisheka'. This Abhiseka is accompanied by chanting of vedic mantras by the priests, kirtana and blowing of conch shells.
    'Niladri Mohadaya', a religious text written in Orissa records the rituals of the festival. Sriharsa in his 'naisadhiya Charita' also refers to this festival of Purusottama. This bathing ceremony has a speciality. . Jagannath in its early form was being worshipped as Nilamadhaba by a Savara chief called Viswabasu. Till now it is the Daitas and Savaras (tribals) who have the exclusive right to conduct the festival. The tribals called Saoras (of southern Orissa) still perform a rite to bath their deities ceremonially on the last day of the month of Jyestha. For this they collect water from remote jungles where it remains untouched even by the shadow of the animals. Most probably when Jagannath was a Savara God, this festival of the Savaras who tended Him was accepted by the Hindus.