Daily Rituals of Jagannath Temple


The first niti begins in the early morning with the opening of the doors of the temple. The Bhitarchu Mahapatra, a temple servitor, accompanied by palia Mekap, Pratihari, Akhanda Mekap and Muduli examines the seal put on the main door (Jaya Vijaya Dwara) by the Talicha Mahapatra on the previous night. If the seal is intact, he breaks it, unlocks the padlock and opens the door. In the same way the door of the inner sanctuary is also opened. The object of this inspection is to see that these has been no defilement of the sacred buildings in which case a purifying ceremony is necessary. After the clearing of the inner sanctuary Mangal Arati is performed to the chanting of hymns and the play of mangalavadyam or auspicious music. This is followed by mailamlagi or change of dress. The dress of the previous night is removed and tadapa (a king of dress) is supplied to make the deities ready for the succeeding niti of abakas i.e., cleaning of teeth, bathing and dressing. The priests pretend to clean the teeth of the deities by sitting in front of the mirrors in which the images are reflected and then bathe them by pouring water on the mirrors.

After the deities are adorned with new clothes, flowers and ornaments sahana mela takes place i.e., the devotees are allowed to go near Ratnavedi to have a closer view of the deities. After sahana mela is over the deities again change their dress. In the meanwhile rose home or starting of the sacred fire to cook the Lord’s food in the Kitchen, Surya Puja and Dvarapala Puja are performed. Gopal Ballabha consisting of sweetmeats, fruits, curd, butter, green coconut, etc., are offered to the deities by way of early breakfast. The next important niti is Sakal Dhupa or Raja Bhoga served at 10 A.M. in which various preparations of black gram like Bada Kanti, Sana Kanti, Enduri; other preparations like Matha-Puli, Hansakeli, Kakatua, Jhili, Ada Panchedi, Sag, Khechedi, Pitha-puli, Bundia Khiri are offered. Betel-nut is offered to the deities at each meal time. Next followed the change of dress and then the Bhogamandapa Bhoga. The food offerings made at the bhogamandapa or refectory is not a part of the compulsory routine of nitis followed in the temple.

It is traditionally done in order to facilitate the pilgrims, the various mathas and other institutions, private individuals as well as the Suaras (temple cooks) who sell Mahaprasad, to offer bhog in large quantities, as in sakal dhupa offerings from the Temple Fund only are allowed, besides the offerings of a few other persons who have got rights for it. Madhyana dhupa or mid-day meal is offered at 1 p.m. in which rice, pulses, vegetables and a variety of other items of food are offered. It is on record that as many as 435 items of food were being offered to the deities at this dhupa in 1910. After their mid-day meal the gods change their dress and enjoy a siesta, the cots being taken from the store room and placed in front of them. Betel-nut, green coconut and perfumed water are kept by the side of the cots and Arati is performed. The doors are then sealed. In the evening the doors are again opened by an elaborate procedure as in the morning. The Sandhay Arati is performed at 6 p.m.

The next niti is Sandhya Dhupa in which rice is not offered, but sweets and other preparations of various kinds like Kanla-puli, Takua, Matha-puli, Bhoga-pitha, Gotali, Kakara, Khuruma, Amalu, Jhadaineda, Kadamba and Subas-pakhal from the speciality of the dhupa. Elaborate rituals including special Aratis are performed after which the inner sanctuary is thrown open for the public. Next follows the change of dress of the deities, and chandanalagi i.e., sandal paste cis applied to the person of the holy ones. The gods are again dressed with new clothes, flower crests, garlands, Tulsi (holy basil), etc., at about 10.30 p.m. which is known as badasinghar besha. Badasinghar bhoga is offered at about 11.30 p.m. The last nitis are bina-lagi, gana, khatasejalaagi, puspanjali, pahuda, muda and sodha. The couches are put in front of the Ratnavedi.Three green coconuts are placed close by with some betel-nut and flowers. The Vinakar sevaka plays on Vina to lull the deities to sleep. Gita Govinda of the famous Oriya poet Jayadev is recited. Thus the gods are left to their slumber. The doors are then sealed by Talicha Mahapatra with his golden seal. All persons excepting those required to watch the temple are cleaned out of the Temple precincts. This, in short, is the daily round of nitis of the Lord.




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