Pradeep Pattanayak

With the completion of the Niladri Bije ritual, the nine-day-long annual sojourn of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra came to an end on Saturday. 

The main aspect of this ritual is the heavenly love and affection between Lord Jagannath and His wife Goddess Laxmi.

As per the tradition, after ‘Sandhya Dhupa’, the process for Niladri Bije started. Charamalas were fixed to each of the three chariots. Mudiratha servitors offered puspanajali (floral offerings) to Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on their respective chariots and carried out the “doralagi” ritual. Kahalia servitors blew the bugle after which the Pahandi of Lord Jagannath and His siblings began.

In Goti Pahandi, Mahajan servitors took the proxy divinities like- Rama, Krushna from Taladhwaja and Madan Mohan from Nandighosh to Dakshini Ghara on Srimandir premises. Later, Lord Sudarshan was taken to the temple from Goddess Subhadra’s chariot Darpadalana.

Lord Sudarshan was taken to the bejeweled altar through Baisi Pahacha (twenty two steps), Ananda Bazaar, Sata Pahacha (seven-steps) and Jagamohan in a grand procession. Later, pahandi of Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra took place. And at last, the pahandi of the sovereign of the cosmos, Lord Jagannath was held. 

As per the tradition, after entering Srimandir, Lord Jagannath is taken to the Jagamohana through Baisi Pahacha, Ananda Bazaar, Bhitara Bedha and Sata Pahacha.

Goddess Lakshmi, who is already upset, closes the Jaya-Bijaya door. She is furious over Lord Jagannath not taking her along during the annual sojourn. An exchange of words breaks out between the Devadasi (women servitors) representing Lakshmi and Badagrahi Daitas and other Daitapatis representing Lord Jagannath.

Later, Lord Jagannath assures Goddess Lakshmi that He will not repeat it again. Thereafter, Goddess Laxmi directs the opening of the Jaya-Bijay doors for Him. At last near the storehouse, Lord Jagannath looks to the north and similarly, Goddess Lakshmi looks to the south and both exchange looks. The Bhittarchha servitors untie the nuptial knot and offer Bandapana. In order to pacify His better half, Lord Jagannath offers Rasagolas to Goddess Laxmi. 

Thereafter, Lord Jagannath and His siblings are enthroned on the bejeweled altar and the Daitas and Patimahapatra servitors offer sandal paste. 

Then the Kothasuansia servitors remove the charamala from the bejeweled altar.