World's Largest Kitchen at Jagannath temple, Puri, Odisha

Largest kitchen in the world Sri Jagannath Temple

Pots for cooking Mahaprasad   Jagannath Temple

In all Hindu temples it has been a long tradition for centuries to prepare prasad (food) for the presiding deity as part of the pooja ritual. There is a separate kitchen (called Madappalli in Tamil) for this purpose on all temples premises. The prasad is served to the people only after the offering is made to the deity by the priests. Further, in many temples almost daily food is prepared for the  visiting devotees who many run into hundreds or thousands, depending on the popularity of the temples. Free offering of food at the temple is  called ''Annadanam'' and it is frequently sponsored by devotees as part of their wish. Offering of  Annadanam to hungry human beings is as good as serving the God. No other charity gives contentment and satisfaction to the receiver as Annadanam does.

At the Puri Jagannath temple, Mahaprasad is cooked in the temple kitchen on such a big scale  that it can always feed 100000 plus  devotees daily.  On festival days, there will be more devotees  to be fed. It is available to the devotees only after main prayer to main deities is  done The kitchen of  Lord Jagannath is  considered the largest in the world with a dimension of 150 by 100 feet in area, containing hundreds of  earthen hearths or chullahs inside.

The three types of chullahs/hearths  are  Anna Chullah, Ahia Chullah and Pitha Chullah. The hearths are hexagonal and the fire is lighted on the Nab chakra yantra as per  Tantric invocations and nine earthen pots are placed at a time on the chullah. The chullahs are quite big, 4 by 2 and a half feet in diameter and are 2 feet deep. The mid portion of Chullah is known as Acchia where charcoal is burnt to cook the dal and curry. Cooking involves only steaming. Only earthen pots are used for steaming ingredients and discarded after one use. The enormity of the kitchen can be gauged by its size with 32 rooms, 752 earthen ovens and around 500 main chefs (Swaras) - to take care of feeding a sea of humanity almost daily. 

Puri jagannath temple, odisha. pinrest com.

The following are the amazing facts of  the largest kitchen in the world, as people call it ''Lord's kitchen''.

01. In the  kitchen despite this modern age, still age old method is being followed - without electricity or appliances, chefs work under oil lamps over open wood fires. Every day they prepare more than a hundred different dishes and offer them to the central deities Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra Devi, and Lord Balarama. 

Three deities of Puri.

02. In the kitchen, food can be prepared for 1 lakh people a day. The prepared items are only boiled.

Puri Jagannath temple, Mahaprasad. Quessed

World Famous Jagannath Puri Temple OrissaPinterest

Maha prasada.Lord Jagannath Temple

03. About 30 to 70 quintals of rice is used daily and on special occasions the quantity of rice exceeds more than 100 quintals.

04. On one day's notice the  skilled chefs can prepare a full meal for up to ten thousand guests at a sitting. 

05. The water from  two100-foot deep wells, Ganga and Jamuna, inside the temple premises is used for the kitchen work. No water from outside the kitchen is allowed.

06. The total area of the kitchen including the surrounding compound walls covers about one acre. There are  about nine kitchens out of which two of them are more than 2,500 square feet each, and the rest being  slightly smaller.

07. Kitchens have mind-boggling 752 wood-burning clay stoves, called chullahs, each about three feet square and four feet high.

08. The new earthen cooking unglazed pots are called kudias and they have good  heat retention capacity. It is really surprising that food stored in them stays reasonably hot up to four or five hours.

09. Only Brahmins cook food and they undergo training  in this  work in their early teens after sacred thread ceremony - initiation of Brahmana. 

10. One thousand men are in charge of kitchen work. Different groups take care of different task.  Swaras are main chefs, 500 in number, who are only allowed to cook on the stoves. ''Jogunias''(helpers) 300 in number are allowed inside the kitchen and they do the jobs such as  light fires, fetch water from temple wells, wash and clean the earthen cooking pots, and finally fill the pots with ingredient "Tunias" (helpers) 200 in number are not allowed inside the kitchen and they take care of   washing ingredients, cutting vegetables, stone-grinding of herbs, chilies, ginger, spices, etc.  ''Mahaswaras" take prepared food from the kitchen to the offering area.

11. Fire in the kitchen is called "Vaishnava Agni" which is used to prepare Lord's food and it is never put out.

12. Charcoals are kept burning day and night by one worshiper called Akanda Mekapa.

13. Once the food meant for offering to Lord Jagannath is ready, it is again offered to Goddess Bimala in the temple. Only after the Prasad is offered to Her, it becomes "Mahaprasada". Except the Suaras and the priests, no one can touch the pots; otherwise the food becomes unfit for offering  before the god and has to be thrown away.