Snana Purnima an important event in the run up to Rath Yatra

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Apart from famous Rath Yatra, Snana Purnima is one of the rare festivals associated with Lord Jagannath that the idols of three deities move out of the sanctum sanctorum to take a holy bath.

 

The Snana Yatra or Deva Snana Purnima, a ceremonial public bath ceremony of the three deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra is an important event in the run-up to the Rath Yatra or the Car Festival.

 

The day, the full-moon day of the month of Jyestha, is considered to be the birth-day of Lord.

 

The deities are bathed by 108 pitchers of water drawn from a well situated near the Sitala temple in the confines of the Jagannatha temple.

 

A day before the Snana Yatra the three deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra along with Sudarshana are taken out from the sanctum sanctorum  in a procession to the Snana-Bedi or the Snana Mandap within the temple precinct. The bathing platform is at such a height that visitors standing outside the temple can easily get a good view of the deities and the ritual bath.

 

After the bath, the deities are dressed up in the Gajanana (elephant) or Ganesha Vesha and their daily food offering or Bhogalagi is made on the Snana Mandap, in full public view.

 

After the Snana Yatra , the three deities keep away from public view for 15 days and this temporary disappearance is called the ‘Anasara’ period. The popular belief is that after the ritualistic bath the deities have fever and therefore do not return to the sanctum sanctorum.

 

However, it is during this period that the ‘washed’ wooden deities get a fresh coat of colour before they appear in public in their new-look ‘Naba Joubana Besha’, a day before they set out on their chariots to the Gundicha temple. The Anabasara, therefore, appears to have been a ritual that allows the re-painting of the wooden idols before they move out of the sanctum for their public ‘darshan’ on the day of the Rath Yatra.