The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous, sacred Hindu temple/Buddhist temple dedicated to Jagannath and located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha.
The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshippers of Krishna and Vishnu, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one's lifetime.
Even though most Hindu deities that are worshiped are made out of stone or metal, the image of Jagannath is wooden. Every twelve years these wooden figures are ceremoniously replaced by using sacred trees, that have to be carved as an exact replica. The reason behind this ceremonial tradition is the highly secret Navakalevara ('New Body' or 'New Embodiment') ceremony, an intricate set of rituals that accompany the renewal of the wooden statues.
The temple was built in the 12th century atop its ruins by the progenitor of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva.The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are hauled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Since medieval times, it is also associated with intense religious fervour.
The temple is sacred to the Vaishnava traditions and saint Ramananda who was closely associated with the temple. It is also of particular significance to the followers of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism whose founder, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was attracted to the deity, Jagannath, and lived in Puri for many years.
Puri is one of the fascinating littoral districts of Orissa. The Cultural heritage of Puri with its long recorded history has its beginnings in the third century B.C. The monuments, religious sanctity, and way of life of the people with their rich tradition is the cultural heart of Orissa. Indeed, Puri is considered the cultural capital of Orissa. The culture here flourished with its manifold activities.
The District has the happy conglomerate of different religions, sects and faith. In the course of history, Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh are found here in the District.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, appeared 500 years ago, in the mood of a devotee to taste the sublime emotions of ecstasy by chanting the holy name of Krishna. Stalwart scholars of Puri like Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya (a priest & great Sanskrit pandit) and others followed His teachings. Even kings and ministers of His period became His disciples. Especially King Prataparudra became His great admirer and ardent follower. Thus all cultures and religion became one in Puri after his teachings were given to all with no consideration of caste and creed.
Daily offerings are made to the Lord six times a day. These include:
- The offering to the Lord in the Morning that forms His breakfast and is called The Gopala Vallabha Bhoga. Breakfast is a seven item treat - Khua, Lahuni, sweetened coconut grating, coconut water, and popcorn sweetened with sugar known as khai and curd and ripe bananas.
- The Sakala Dhupa forms his next offering at about 10 O’ clock in the morning Sakala Dhupa. This generally consists of 13 items including the Enduri cake & Mantha puli.
- Bada Sankhudi Bhoga forms the next repast & the offering consists of Pakhala with dahi and Kanji payas. The offerings are made in the bhog mandapa, about 200 feet from the Ratna Vedi. This is called Chatra Bhog and was introduced by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century to help pilgrims share the temple food.
- The Madhyanha dhupa forms the next offering at the noon.
- The next offering to the Lord is made in the evening at around 8 o’clock it is Sandhya Dhupa.
- The last offering to the Lord is called the Bada Simhara Bhoga
There are elaborate daily worship services. There are many festivals each year attended by millions of people. The most important festival is the Yatra or the Chariot festival in June. This spectacular festival includes a procession of three huge chariots bearing the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the Bada Danda meaning the Grand Avenue of Puri till their final destination the Gundicha Temple.
The annual shodasha dinatmaka or 16 day puja beginning 8 days prior to Mahalaya of Ashwin month for goddess Vimala and ending onVijayadashami, is of great importance, in which both the utsava murty of lord Madanmohan and Vimala take part
Pana Sankranti: Also known or Vishuva Sankranti and Mesha Sankranti: Special rituals are performed at the temple
1. The flag atop the temple always flaps in the opposite direction of air.
2.From any place in Puri you will always find the Sudarshan Charka (Charka at top of Temple) facing you
3. Normally during day-time, air comes from sea to land & during evening, the vice-versa occurs. But in Puri it’s totally opposite.
4. No bird or planes fly above the temple.
5. The shadow of the main dome is invisible at any time of the day.
6. The quantity of cooked food inside the Temple remains same for the entire year. But that same quantity of prasadam can feed few thousand people & 20 lakh people, Still it won’t get wasted.