Odishatv Bureau

As per the descriptions in various texts, Lord Jagannath does all the ‘Manaviya Leela’ or human-like activities. Like us, He too brushes His teeth and retires for the day after dinner. Hence He too feels the sweltering heat during the summer. To get a respite from the rising mercury, He along with His brother Balabhadra, Bhudevi and Sridevi goes to Narendra Puskarini, a tank, to enjoy boat ride. 

This festival is known by different names such as Chandan Yatra, Bhaunri Yatra and Gandhalepana Yatra. This festival is not only one of the important festivals observed in Srimandir but also the longest festival, spanning over 42 days. 

Commencing on Akshaya Tritiya day, this festival comes to an end on Deba Snana Purnima day. The entire period is divided into two parts- 21-day-long Bahara Chandan Yatra or Bahara Bhaurni Yatra and 21-day-long Bhitara Chandan Yatra or Bhitara Bhaunri Yatra. 

In the afternoon, Madanmohan (the representative idol of Lord Jagannath), Ramakrushna (the representative idol of Lord Balabhadra), Bhudevi, Sridevi, Ramakrushna and Panchu Pandavas namely Loknath, Yameswar, Markandaya, Kapal Mochan and Nilakantha are taken in lavishly decorated six palanquins along the Grand road from the Lion’s Gate to Narandra Puskarini. Madanmohan’s palanquin is called ‘Manivimana’. 

A special set of servitors called ‘Biman Badu’ carry the palanquins on their shoulders. As the procession moves along the Grand Road, Odissi song ‘Dekha Go Radhamadhaba Chali’ played on the clarinets accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, blowing of conch shells and display of fireball skill. 

At the pond, two lavishly decorated swan-shaped boats-Nanda and Bhadra keep waiting for the arrival of the deities. On reaching the pond, sandalwood paste is applied to the deities and they are given an aromatic water bath. Then they are taken to their respective boats.

Specific servitors row the boats for a long time while temple dancers sing and dance on the boat to make the trip more entertaining. 

This scene is repeated every day. On the last day, the concluding ceremony ‘Bhaunri’ is celebrated. The special attraction of the evening is the fireworks and music extravaganza. 

The next 21 days of Bhitara Bhaunri are observed in the inner sanctum of Jagannath temple. The festival culminates on Deba Snana Purnima day, which falls on the full moon day of the month of Jyestha.