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Sunday, July 24, 2016

the imposing "Puri Jagannath Temple" ~ the land of Rath Yatra

Swami Nammalwar prays to that God on bird Garuda – clouds of dust being raised,  the bad Asuras being chased out ..  through living countless cycles of birth and death, having found the Lotus feet of Sriman Narayana,  Azhwar prays Lord not to part with him anymore, as submission to Him consoles heart and imbues endless joy. 

மாறிமாறிப் பலபிறப்பும் பிறந்து அடியை அடைந்து  உள்ளம் தேறி*
ஈறிலின்பத்து  திருவெள்ளம் யான்மூழ்கினன்,
பாறிப்பாறி  அசுரர்தம் பல்குழாங்கள் நீறெழ, பாய்பறவை ஒன்று ஏறி*
வீற்றிருந்தாய்  உன்னையென்னுள் நீக்கேலெந்தாய்

The aim of life is to reach Him by serving Him and those who do kainkaryam to Him.  Srivaishnavaite way of life is singing paeans, chanting divyaprabandham, doing service and having darshan at His various abodes.  For us, Kovil Thirumalai Perumal Kovil would mean the divyadesams of ‘Thiruvarangam, Tirumala Thirupathi and Thirukachi’.  When we think of temples, the one at Thiruvallikkeni and other divyadesams – its tall gopurams, the divine Vimanas and the most merciful Moolava vigrahams and blemishless Uthsava vigrahams come readily to mind.  There are more ~those sung by Alwars being 108 Sri Vaishnava divyadesams and the centuries old temples associated with our Acharyars being ‘Abimana sthalams’.    

Just like our Kovil Ozhugu, there is Madala  Panji, a chronicle describing the historical events of Odisha Jagannath Temple.  In the state of Odisha [Orissa] lies the famous ‘Jagannath temple’ in Puri, situate on the east coast.  The moolavar idols of Northern India are different than the ones in South India, mostly in white marble.  Puri Jagannath is different – Perumal is made of sacred wood, which are ceremoniously replaced after few years.  The  Navakalevara  ceremony is an intricate set of rituals that accompany the renewal of the wooden statues.

The Puri  temple was built in the 12th  century atop its ruins by the progenitor of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are hauled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Lakhs of devotees descend here at this holy temple town for this festival.

Inside the huge temple, the presiding deities are : Sri  Jagannath (Lord Krishna), Balabhadra (Balarama)  and the Goddess Subhadra constituting  trinity of deities worshiped at the temple. The temple iconography depicts these three Gods sitting on the bejewelled platform [ Ratnabedi ]  in the inner sanctum. Lord  Jagannatha is  the supreme God and the sovereign monarch of the Odishan empire. The Deities are adorned with cotton and silk fabrics, Gold Ornaments studded with precious stones, flowers of different varieties, Tulsi leaves, sandal paste, camphor. These articles are used in the daily and periodical rituals.
Pic credit :

Lord Jagannath temple at Puri  is built on a gigantic raised platform.   The temple complex is enclosed by a wall about seven meters high. The area of this platform is more than 4,20,000 sq.ft. The wall is pierced by four gates, facing the four directions. On the east-facing gate, there are stone images of two lions and it is called the Simha dwara [Lions Gate]. The north, south and west facing gates are similarly known as the Elephant Gate, the Horse Gate and the Tiger Gate.  As one stands at the Simha dwara,  there is a monolithic pillar about 10 meters high. This pillar is known locally as the Aruna Stambha,  associated with Aruna, charioteer of the Sun-god. 

The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning glory  is the 'Sudarshana chakra / Ssrichakra' (an eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the "Nilachakra", it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. The vimana or tower is 215ft high, and in the evening, a temple sevaka  called Garuda sevaka climbs up to the tower to tie pieces of cloth on the flagpole. This chakra is visible from almost all parts of Puri and would appear to be facing you from wherever you are.  The flag atop is believed to flap in the opposite direction of the breeze.  

The temple is situate on expansive landscape and attracts crowds throughout the year.  During the annual Rath Yatra, lakhs of devotees visit Puri ~ more about the Rath Yatra in another post.

Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan.

Source : facts about Puri; ; and

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