Bhubaneswar, June 13 :
At least three lakh devotees Friday witnessed the annual ceremonial bath of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra in Odisha’s temple town of Puri, braving the heat and humidity.
The deities were taken out of the sanctum sanctorum of the 12th century Jagannath temple in the beach town, about 56 km from here, in a ceremonial procession to the snana mandap – a 30 feet high pavilion inside the temple complex – around 7 a.m.
“The bathing of the deities started at 1.50 p.m. and ended within an hour,” Laxmidhar Pujapanda, the temple’s public relations officer, told IANS. “At least three lakh devotees witnessed the event despite heat and humidity.”
The festival, which is known as ‘Snana Yatra’, involves bathing of the deities with 108 pitchers of perfumed water drawn from a temple well. This is followed by Gajanana Vesha ( elephant attire ) of the Lords.
It takes place ahead of the annual chariot festival or Ratha Yatra, which is the grand culmination of a series of celebrations involving the deities. This year the festival will be held June 29.
The festival marks the annual journey of the three deities from the temple in three separate decorated wooden chariots to another temple about two km away. Thousands of devotees pull the chariots with the help of ropes.
The deities return to their abode in the same way. The return journey of the deities is known as Bahuda Yatra, which will be held July 7.