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Odishatv Bureau

Like ordinary humans, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra perform their daily chores the way we do them starting from brushing teeth to retiring for the day after dinner. 

In order to get respite from the blistering summer heat, they go to Narendra tank and play water sports. The festival associated with these rituals is known as ‘Chandan Yatra’. 

Of all the festivals observed at Srimandir in Puri, ‘Chandan Yatra’, literally meaning ‘Sandalwood paste Festival’, is the longest. It is observed for 42 days. The festival falls on the third day of the bright fortnight of Odia month Baisakha.

The 42-day-long festival is halved into two – ‘Bahara Chandan Yatra’ or outer Chandan festival and ‘Bhitara Chandan Yatra’ or inner Chandan festival.

The outer Chandan festival lasts for 21 days. Everyday, representative images of the deities i.e, Rama, Krishna, Madan Mohan, Laxmi and Saraswati and five Lingas namely Lokanatha, Jameswara, Markandaya, Kapala Mochana and Nilakantha, also known as Pancha Pandavas, are carried in six separate richly decorated palanquins in a grand procession from Jagannath Temple to the Narendra tank, located about 1.5 kilometres from the temple.

It is mentioned in ‘puranas’ that sandalwood paste is a favourite with gods. It is also believed that when one worships gods with sandalwood paste, their wishes are granted sooner. Besides, sandalwood paste has a cooling effect.

On reaching Narendra tank, the deities are given a sandalwood paste and aromatic water bath and then they are placed on two beautifully decorated swan-shaped boats, named as Nanda and Bhadra. While Madan Mohan, Laxmi and Saraswati are placed in one, Rama, Krishna and the Pancha Pandavas are taken to the other boat. 

The two boats with the deities move about the tank while temple dancers onboard dance and sing till late evening. On their way back home, the same manner and style is followed. This continues for 21 days. The last day is known as ‘Bhaunri Yatra’, which is celebrated with display of fireworks and musical events. 

Upon completion of Bahara Chandan Yatra, the deities’ ‘Bhitara Chandan Yatra’ starts and it continues for 21 days. 

Notably, the Chandan Yatra coincides with auspicious Akshaya Tritiya, marking the beginning of the process of Rath Yatra as the construction of chariots starts on this day.

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