About Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa
The Jagannath temple is situated on the Bay of Bengal coast on the Eastern coast of the Indian peninsula. It is only 60 Km to the south of Bhubaneswar, the capital city of the state of Orissa in India. Thousands of devotees who follow the Vaishnava religious traditions come to worship Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra at this temple every year. The temple was built in the 12th century by Raja Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev in dedication to Lord Jagannath or Lord Krishna, who is revered as the Lord of the whole universe. The temple is one of the largest temples in Orissa and is famous all over India and the world.
Spiritual and cultural significance
It is one of the four Dhams or holy places of pilgrimage namely, Badrinath in the North, Rameswaram in the south, Dwarka in the West and jagannath puri in the East. This holy place has been visited by the famous Indian Acharyas like Madhvacharya, Adi Shankara, Guru Nanak, Kabir, Tulsidas, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and others through the ages. The three deities made of wood are considered as the Tirathas by the Jains who think that the assimilation of three powers could lead to Moksha. It is said that a fusion of the local Tribal culture and the Hindu culture consisting of Shaktism, Saivism. Jainism and Vaishnavism have occurred in this holy place.
Main deities of the temple
Lord Jagannath is present everywhere along with Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. They are the three main deities who are placed on the Ratnavedi and worshipped in the inner sanctum of the temple. The other deities present there are Sridevi, Vishwadhatri and Madanmohan. The deities are made from wood of the holy Neem tree which is known as Daru Brahma. Different dresses and jewelry adorn the gods and goddesses during various worship rituals and festivals. It is believed that the worship of deities began in the tribal shrines a long time ago.
Other temples and shrines
There are various other temples situated inside the main puri jagannath temple complex. The Vimala Temple, the Mahalakshmi temple, the Kanchi Ganesh temple are located here. Food that is offered to Lord Jagannath has to be offered to Goddess Vimala to turn it into Mahaprasad. It is said that Goddess Mahalakshmi supervises the preparation of offering, also known as Naivedya that is given to Lord Jagannath. The Kanchi Ganesh temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. Other than these temples, there are shrines dedicated to the gods Surya, Bhuvaneshwari, Saraswati, Rama, Narasimha, Eshaneshwara and Hanuman.
Worshipping and Rituals
The devotees worship Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra in the inner sanctum of the temple. But once in a year, during June and July, the gods and goddess are brought out onto the streets of Puri so that the people can have darshana of them. This festival is called the Rath Yatra when gods and goddesses travel in huge wooden chariots pulled by hundreds of devotees. Other festivals and rituals include Chandan Yatra, Snana Purnima, Anavasara, Nava Kalevara, Niladri Bije, Gupta Gundicha, which involve the deities in various activities. Pilgrims and devotees from all over the country assemble near the temple to see and join the festivities.