Deva Snana Purnima, also called as Snana Yatra or Snana Purnima is an auspicious bathing festival that is devoted to Lord Jagannath. According to hindu calendar, it is celebrated on the purnima or full moon day of the Odia month of ‘Jyeshtha’ at Puri Srimandir (Jagannath temple). This hindu festival is celebrated just before some days of the world famous Rath Yatra (Chariot festival or Car festival) of lord Jagannath at Puri. A ceremonial bath is given to the triad deities of Puri Jagannath temple, viz. Lord Jagannath , Maa Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra. As per the myth, it is believed that during this ritual bathing festival, the three deities catch fever and take 15 days of reclusive and private treatment. After getting reinvigorated, the idols come into sight for public viewing.
This anticipated ritual of Lord Jagannath is celebrated in a traditional way with full majesty and tight security. Thousands and thousands of devotees from different part of the state and country visit Puri Jagannath temple to witness this unique event. It is a belief that by getting the ‘darshan’ (vision) of the almighty lord on the day of Snana Purnima, will not only free them from all their sins of past and present lives but also give them Moksha (liberation).
Why Deva Snana Purnima is celebrated?
According to Skanda Purana, when Raja Indradyumna established these three wooden deities, he organized this bathing ceremony. Thereafter, this auspicious day is performed to give a royal bath to the three main deities of Jagannath temple.
Some believes, it is the birth day of lord Jagannath. To fight with the scorching heat of summer; this bathing festival of three deities is celebrated in a ceremonial way at Puri Jagannath temple.
Rituals performed in Snana Yatra/ Deva Snana Purnima:
- First of all, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra , Lord Balabhadra accompanying Sudarshan and Madanmohan are taken out from their ‘Ratnasinghashan’ which is located inside the main temple; in the early morning of Jyeshtha Purnima. Then the deities are brought to the ‘Snana Mandap/ Snana Vedi’ (Bathing altar) in a grand procession which is viewed by thousands of devotees. This procession is well known as ‘Pahandi’. What makes this Pahandi or procession so unique is the sounds of beat of ghantas, drums, bugles, cymbals along with chanting vedic mantras.
- Some of few puja (worship) and rituals are carried out earlier by the priests of Jagannath temple. The water used for bathing the wooden deities is taken from the northern well named as Suna Kua (Golden well), which is situated inside the premises of Puri Jagannath temple.
- On the day of Snana Purnima; 108 pots of cold, herbal, aromatic and purified water are used to bath these trinities. Then after the completion of the bathing ceremony, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Maa Subhadra and lord Balabhadra are dressed up in ‘Sada Besha’. Again in the afternoon, the three deities are decorated in the attire of elephant, which is popularly known as ‘Gajanana Besha/Gaja Besha/ Hati Besha’ (Elephant Dress). As per the legends, Lord Jagannath takes this elephant attire to please his devotees who worship Lord Ganesh.
- On Deva Snana Purnima, a special Bhog is offered to the three deities after Hati Besa. Later in the evening, the idols come into view for ‘Snanamela’ to allow public viewing.
- At the conclusion of this royal bath ceremony, the three main deities get sick and stay away from the public view for a period of 15 days and taken into ‘Anasara’ house. This Anasara period begins from ‘Jyestha Purnima’ and ends with ‘Asadha Amabasya’.
- It takes 15 days to finish the Anasara house rituals. Meanwhile three pata chitra paitings of the deities are publically displayed for devotees. It is believed that with the Ayurvedic treatment offered by the Raj Vaidya, the Gods recover slowly in a fortnight (a period of 14 days or two weeks).
- During this period, devotees visit to the Alarnath Temple in Bramhagiri in a belief that Lord Jagannath evinces as Alarnath. Then after completion of Anasara days, on the day just before the famous Ratha Yatra; the idols of the Lord Jagannath and his siblings appear for public viewing.
The festivity of Deva Snana Purnima holds massive religious significance for the Jagannath devotees. This is an important festival for all the Hindus and as per the Hindu calendar, this is the first occasion of the year. While the Jagannath dham, Puri engrosses thousands of devotees on this day; the bathing festival of the holy Lord is also celebrated in other parts of Odisha too.
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