Puri: Thousands of devotees from different parts of the country today gathered here to catch a glimpse of Lord Jagannath's ceremonial bathing rituals, held on an open pandal, within the premises of the 12th century temple.
The festival, also known as Deva Snana Purnima, takes place on the full moon day in the month of Jyestha and this is the first occasion in the year when the wooden idols of Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra are brought out of the sanctum sanctorum in a procession and placed on the Snana Vedi for the bathing ritual.
As many as 108 pitchers of 'sacred water' are poured on the idols amid chanting of vedic mantra. Soon after the prayer offered by the Gajapati King of Puri Dibyasingha Deb performing puja on Snan Mandap, the deities adorn "Gaja Vesha" (attire of elephant God).
According to mythology, those who get a darshan of the Lord on this day, would be cleansed of all their sins. The Skanda Purana mentions that King Indradyumna arranged this ceremony when the idols were first installed, said Rabi Narayan Mishra, researcher on Jagannath cult and former temple administrator.
Traditionally, after the grand bath, the deities fall ill and are kept in a sick room to recover. During this period, which is known as "Anasara," the deities deny darshan to the public.
The deities get out of the "Anasar Ghar" and go on tour for nine days through the Rath Yatra festival.