Holy bath for Lord Jagannath]

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Puri, June 18 (UNI) Snan Poornima (bathing of lord Jagannath, his elder Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra on the bright full moon day), a major ritual before the annual Car festival,was observed in this holy city in traditional style and grandeur.

The Daita servitors escorted out lord Jagannath, Balabhdra, Devi Sughadra, Sudershan and Madanmohan from ''ratnasimhasan'' of the sanctum sanctorum of the main temple in ''Pahandi'' procession amidst chanting of Jai Jagannath and a concert of drums, cymbals, bugles and ghantas.

They presiding deities were taken to the bathing altar (called Snana Vedi) located at the outer temple complex. The bathing altar is a huge raised platform overlooking the grand road facing the east. Priests consecrated the water brought from the sacred well located inside the temple complex.

A total 108 pitchers of aromatic and herbal water were used in lord's bathing. The water was drawn out from the golden well of the temple. This year the gajapati King Divyasingh Dev performed the ceremonial ''Cherapahanra'', sweeping round the deities atop the snanbedi (bathing altar) which was completed in the afternoon.

Soon after that the deities were decked with elephant attire reflecting them as the incarnation of lord Ganesha. Later the priests offered ''bhog'' to the deities before public darshan called ''Sahanamela'' was allowed.

Devotees from far and wide places of the state and out side had converged in this pilgrim city to witness the ritual.The deities would be taken into a solitary place in the temple called Anasar house (room for the sick) in the midnight where the deities would recline to bed for fifteen days supposedly suffering from fever.

They would be treated by the temple Vaidya (temple doctor) with herbal medicines and were to live on fruits served by the Daita servitors known as body protectors of the deities.

As public darshan remain closed for the fortnight devotees rushed to Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri 23 kms away from Puri following the popular belief that lord Jagannath manifests into the Alwarnath dev.

The deities would give public darshan a day prior to the Rath Yatra known as ''Navayouvan'' darshan.

About 34 platoons of armed police and a large number of police officers of various ranks were on duty to ensure safe and smooth conduct of the ritual.

Metal detector gates and close circuit TV cameras were used to monitor the crowd movement in and around the temple.

UNI XC DP RL KN2234

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