Snana Purnima, the Royal bath of Lord Jagannath and his siblings, Puri - marks the beginning of annual Rath Yatra

 Snana Purnima, also known as Snana Jatra, is an important  ceremonial event in the Jagannath culture, symbolizing  the ritualistic bathing of Lord Jagannath and his siblings, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra. This event, held on the full moon day of the Jyestha month, serves as a precursor to the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra. This year it was held on June 22 with fanfare and Bhakti.

    Puri Jagannath temple, Odisha Snana Purnima
    Rituals of Snana Purnima 

decorated deities Puri Jagannath temple, nana Purnima

Puri Jagannath temple, Odisha Snana Purnima

Pahandi Procession: The deities are ceremoniously brought out from the sanctum(garbhagriha) to the Snana Mandap, an elevated platform facing the main street. This grand procession, called 'Pahandi', is performed with great religious fervor and devotion.

Puri Jagannath temple, odisha.

Mangal Arati: The day begins with the  customary 'Mangal Arati', a pre-dawn ritual where the deities are awakened and prepared for the bathing ceremony. 

Adorning the Deities: The deities are adorned with 'Senapatta', a special body armor made from ‘Baula’ wood. This task is performed by the Daitapatis, special priests who are descendants of the original tribal worshippers. They take over from the regular priests the night before the ceremony.

 Bathing Ritual The deities are bathed with 108 pitchers of sacred water fetched from the 'Suna Kua' or the golden well within the temple premises. The water, infused with herbal and aromatic essences, is poured on the deities at the 'Snana Bedi'. Lord Jagannath receives 35 pitchers of water, Lord Balabhadra 33, Devi Subhadra 22, and Chakraraj Sudarshan 18. 

Chhera Panhara: Post-bathing, Puri's titular king, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, performs the 'Chhera Panhara' (sweeping) ritual at the Snana Mandap. It is symbolic of  humility and servitude of the king towards the deities. 

Hati Besa: After the completion of the Chhera Panhara, the deities are dressed in 'Hati Besa' (elephant attire). These special costumes are traditionally prepared by artisans from Raghaba Das Mutt and Gopal Tirtha Mutt. 

Anasara Gruha: Following the extensive bathing ritual, it is believed that the deities fall sick and are taken to the 'Anasara Gruha' (isolation room) for a period of 14 days for recuperation. During this time, devotees are not permitted to darshan of the deities. This quarantine period is intended for the deities to get back to normal health. 

Nabajauban Darshan: The 14-day quarantine period having been over, the deities reappear before the devotees afresh  in a ceremony known as 'Nabajauban Darshan', marking their recovery and readiness for the forthcoming Rath Yatra festival. 

Observations and Arrangements

Thousands of devotees gather in Puri to witness this grand spectacle. The event was  well organized and to avoid untoward incidents 68 platoons of policemen were  deployed to ensure the safety and success of the event.  'Bada Danda', the grand road in front of the temple is the main venue from where the devotees can have comfortable darshan .

Snana Purnima marks the beginning of the popular Rath Yatra festival,  centuries old event that has  immense cultural and religious significance in the Jagannath tradition.