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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 20:

The first Snana purnima after the Nabakalebara festival has a magnetic pull which has driven streams of devotees who have made a beeline to Puri. Undeterred by the rains and intense humidity they stand patiently to catch a glimpse of Lord Jagannath,their Kalia thakura, the human God and the Lord of the universe take his divine bath and then see him resplendent in the royal Haathi Vesa also known as Gaja Vesa.

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Lord Jagannath with his elder brother Lord Balavadra and younger sister Subhadra, accompanied by Madanamohana and Sudersan take the divine bath on the Snana mandapa (bathing platform), witnessed by thousands of devotees. The Snana  mandapa area  becomes chock-a-block with devotees with raised  hands loudly chanting Jai Jagannath . The place reverberates with the blowing of the conch shells and huluhulis (sound made by women) and sights of devotees dancing with tears streaming down their faces is nothing unusual. It is the spiritual fervor which bonds them together as one big family.

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Dressed in fresh flowers and tulasi mala the three deities give darshan to the devotees. Snana purnima is held on the full -moon day of the month of Jyestha and the deities are bathed in 108 pitchers of fragrant divine water which is drawn from the Suna Kua or golden well. Sauras and Mahasauras go in a ceremonial procession to fetch the 108 pots of water from the Suna Kua which is situated near the Sitala temple and cover their faces with gamucha (towel). Servitors then carry 108 earthen pots filled with water made fragrant by mixing sandalwood, camphor and other scented materials to pour on the idols. Lord Jagannath is bathed with 35 pots of water while 33, 22 and 18 pitchers are poured on Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sri Sudarshan respectively After the divine bath or snana the deities are decorated in the Haathi Vesa or Gajanana Vesa. The vesas are crafted by Raghav Das and Gajanan Das Matha in Puri .

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The rains do not deter the Jaganath bhaktas (devotees) and the enthusiasm is a live emotion that electrifies the senses. Every Odia and Jaganath devotee is drenched in the divine joy of seeing their human God so close. After the bath the deities catch cold and fever like any common man and are confined to the Anasara ghara or room where they rest for 15 days. They revive to ride the famous chariot festival called the rath yatra.

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