Travel

Idyllic Odisha – Part 1

“Dhai giri giri, dhai giri giri” (make it quick!), once you land in Odisha, you can hear Jagannath 1this statement frequently. Welcome to the land of Mahapatras, Patras, Pattnaiks and other multitudes of Odiyan castes and sub castes. The state is one of the most potential, fertile, and naturally beautiful region in our country. Lush green meadow, innocent & spiritual people, Rasgulla, and never ending series of ancient temples greet you at all points. While writing a travel blog on Odisha, I realized one blog wasn’t enough. So here is the part one that solely talks about Shri Jagannath Temple – the main attraction of the state.

Shri Jagannath Temple This temple is the reason why the entire state has a prominence across the world. Made thousand years ago, the temple has been designed and developed out of stone. Alluring, rugged and unbreakable, the temple, no matter how old, it can give a run for money to the contemporary buildings. It is said that it has been made on a framing of a sea shell. Lord Jagannath can be seen seated next to Subhadra (his sister) and Balram (his brother). Lord Jagannath is said to be a reincarnation of Sri Krishna. It is one of the Char Dhams in our country as seen by Hindu devotees.

Hindu mythology says, there 33 crore gods and goddesses and one find then at Shri Jagannath temple. Rath Yatra (chariot procession) takes place annually wherein it is considered that Shri Jagannath along with his brother and sister visit their aunt’s place that is Gundicha Temple. The wooden statues are taken on elaborate and huge temple chariots and taken to Gundicha. The festival is celebrated with huge pomp and show, and scores of people come to participate and pull the Ratha. The significance of this festival is so high that older people intentionally go under the tires of the Ratha, so that they can die, and get Nirvana. The wood of the Ratha once the festival is over, is given during funerals so that the departed soul goes to heaven.

Inside the temple, you can find a spot where people lean awkwardly on a wall. It is said that Chaitanaya Maha Prabhu looked at the gods from this spot. His fingerprints can be felt on the wall. Cameras and leather products are not allowed inside, be careful. If you are going to Shri Jagannath temple, keep in mind a few things:

  •  Do not fall prey to the Pandas
  • Eat Aghora (Food that was offered to the gods)
  • Offer Prasad and bring it for friends and family
  • Pay visit to the kitchen and go to every nook and corner of the temple
  • Watch flag hoisting at 5 PM

The flag hoisting ceremony takes place at the temple at 5 in the evening (everyday). One of the most unique, audacious and out-of-the-box event it is. It is said, that without changing the flags, the customary Puja can’t take place. Now here is the catch, a young priest is expected to climb (without any support) upto the peak of the temple and change it. It is an activity worth watching and you don’t get to see that anywhere. The replaced flags get sold at a price and people throng in large number to buy them no matter how expensive they are. The flag which is at the highest is priced at 20k or more. And people buy them because they are considered auspicious. If you want your flag to be hoisted, then, in the morning you are required to register your name with the committee and submit a certain amount of money. After lottery, the winner’s flag will be hoisted at the peak, and the rest of the flags will go beneath.      

There is more to Lord Jagannath. In every 12 to 15 years, the statues of gods are replaced and new wooden replicas are kept. This activity is done ceremoniously and the event is called as Nabakalebara wherein a village is chosen from where wood will be retrieved. It sounds like just another change of idols but the details around it are mystical and profound. The respective priest will get a dream that will give him directions to a village from where the wood shall be retrieved.  The dream is said to be detailed and elaborate one – people need to specifically go to a Neem tree from where the wood should be taken. It is said that when Lord Krishna’s body was cremated, every inch of body got burnt but not the heart. The heart is called as ‘Brahama’. It is the same heart that resides inside the idol of Shri Jagnnath. The Darus or the leaders who are the chosen one to transfer the ‘Brahma’/soul/heart and create the sculpture need to qualify to take up the duty. It is said that the Darus are blindfolded before doing the transfer (life infusion) and if not done properly, he will die instantly. It is done secretly and in complete silence. During this time, there is a complete blackout in the city of Puri.    

There are a lot of mysteries associated with the temple like:

  1. The food that is made as an offering to gods and later distributed to people never gets short in quantity or wasted
  2. The flag always blows in opposite direction on the dome
  3. Never does any bird fly over the dome of the temple
  4. No one has seen the ‘Brahman’ and the transfer ceremony takes place in complete silence and dark
  5. No one can see the shadow of the dome

That was Shri Jagannath for you. Wait till the part 2 on Odisha comes up! I will recommend that once, in a lifetime, visit Odisha. You will fall for it instantly.

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