Snana Yatra is a bathing festival celebrated on full moon day of the Hindu month Jyestha. It is also known as Deva Snana Purnima.
Location of Snana Yatra: Puri, Odisha
Duration of visit: 5-6 hours
The legend behind Snana Yatra
This day is considered as the birthday of Lord Jagannath. According to Skanda Purana when Raja Indradyumna installed the wooden deities he arranged this Snana Yatra. The ceremony is believed to be a tribal ceremony.
Lord Jagannath in his early days was worshipped as Nilamadhava. So the tribals of Saoras perform the bath rites. It is said that they collect water from the remote jungles untouched by even the shadow of animals.
Another story of the Hati Vesa ( wearing elephant dress) in the evening is of significance. A devotee of Lord Ganesha came to receive a scholarship from the King of Odisha. He was invited by the king to visit Lord Jagannath but he refused to say he will worship only Lord Ganesh. Later the king somehow convinced him and took him to the temple. To his utter surprise, Lord was dressed as an elephant resembling Ganesha and thus came the Hati Vesa.
It is said that during the Ansara Kala the Daitas (The descendants of Viswavasu and the Savara) repaint and restore the Deities to their former glory, as during the bathing their color fades away.
It is also said that during Anasara period the Lord Jagannath manifests as Alarnatha in the temple Alarnatha at Brahmagiri, Odisha. Saint Ramanujacharya is said to be meeting Lord here during the Anasara as God couldn’t stay away from his favorite devotee.
It is said that all of your sins get washed away if you get a vision of the Lord on this day.
Where does Snana Yatra take place?
The bathing pandal also called Snana mandap is situated in the northeast of the Ananda Bazar. Length and breadth of the pandal are around 76 feet. The pandal is so huge that visitors present outside the temple get a clear view of the Gods.
Flags and toranas made up of mango leaves are put up. The Deities are decorated with flowers. Incantations in Lord’s name are performed. Drums are also beaten. The surrounding is filled with mesmerizing smells of incense and oils.
The Pahandi Vijay first takes place. In this first, all the Gods are brought to the pandal. Then the Mangal Arati takes place. Then water is fetched from the Suna Kua ( The golden well ) in vessels of copper and gold. The mouths of the people bringing water are covered so that water doesn’t get contaminated. Water is then purified with Haldi (Turmeric), Whole Rice, Chandan, Aguru, perfumes, and medicinal herbs.
During the sacred bath 108 pots of water are put on the Lord. In the evening Lord Jagannath and Balaram put elephant dress called Hati Vesa and Lady Subhadra wears Lotus flower Vesa.
After-effects of the Snana Yatra
The Deities fall sick and all the temple activities are suspended. For fifteen days the Lords stay away from public view. The Deities are kept in a special sick room called Ratan Vedi inside the temple. This period is called as Anasara kala.
After this, on the sixteenth day, the Deities are worshipped again and brought to public view. It is called Nava Yauvanotsava ( Festival of new youth ). As the Deities had fallen sick the Raj Vaidya ( The King’s Physician) tends to them.
After this, the festival of Rath Yatra begins.
I hoped this article helped you understand all important factors and legends of the holy land Puri during the Snana festival. Feel free to reach out if you have any more stories to tell.