PURI; The Place
Puri, as we know it, is famous short form of ‘Jagannath Puri‘- the abode of ‘Lord of World’, and is one of the four dhamas or the pilgrimage places of Hindus. Standing tall on the eastern coast of Indian subcontinent, bordering the Bay of Bengal, Jagannath temple is a sculptured marvel, and equally revered are the deities residing inside.
Unlike most of the temples in India, here, a sibling trio is worshiped, and moreover it is the only place where the deities are not made of stone but wood.
The colossal structure situated on the grand road called ‘Bada Danda’ in odia can be explored through four gates but the Eastern gate (also known as Singh Dwar) is the main entrance.
The temple has two walls. Main gate brings you to the outer wall circle. After climbing more than dozen stairs, you come at a point where there is entry to inner wall circle. Exactly at that point, on your left is the famous kitchen of Jaggannath Ji and on the right, is the Annapurna temple.
PURI HAS A UNIQUE KITCHEN
Being unique in itself, the hearth of this kitchen never dies because the food is offered to Deities seven times a day! The kitchen employes number of men and families (indirectly). The grains and vegetables grown by one, sorted by other, cooked with firewood in earthen pots made by still others. The ‘men-of-deities’ are literally running throughout. Entry of outsiders is prohibited inside. You can sneak peaks through slits in the walls.
- Only traditional kind of vegetables are cooked.
- Pots once used are discarded.
Food pots after offering, are shifted to Annapurna Temple where it is sold to the devotees as Prasadam.
Inside the inner wall countless gods and Godesses are given place, around the main temple. While moving, if you pay your attention to the temple architecture, it’s exceptional.
The main temple remains open from 5 am in the morning to 12 in the midnight. However, it temporarily closes when the deities are being offered food.
THE DEITIES IN PURI TEMPLE:
It’s a trio of bothers, Jagannath on the left and Balbhadra on the right, and sister Subhadra in the centre. The images are made of Neem wood and are placed on Ratanbedi
- Mornings are extremely crowded.
- Phones and cameras are not allowed.
- And Non-Hindus not welcome in the premises.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PURI:
- The Deities supposedly fall sick and the temple, therefore is closed for fourteen days. To recover, these are taken to Brahmgiri, a village on the way to Chilka lake
- They die as well. So are replaced after 12-18 years, and old ones are burried near Southeren gate in a place called Baikunth dham.
WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR IN PURI TEMPLE:
- The grain beds one of which is harvested everyday to make food to be offered to the Deities!
- The food being cooked by placing the pots one above the other. The food in the topmost pot is cooked first.
I FAILED TO LOCATE THESE.
WHAT I FOUND WEIRD IN PURI TEMPLE:
- Only money matters. At every step you are being treated as an ATM.
WHAT I MISSED IN PURI TEMPLE:
- The interesting flag ceremony which takes place every evening.
- The peaceful ambience around the holy place that we the mountain people are used to.
- The free Prasadam and sometimes food for devotees (langars) which is a normal practice in North Indian Temples.
In all, it was interesting to learn about the place which, for ages, had been a dream destination of our ancestors and still has equal charm among the aged people of Hindu religion.
With tiny wisdom of mine, what makes sense to me, is that this temple is actually the feeder of diverse population residing this particular area providing means of livelihood to them. The mammoth number of devotees visiting this shrine makes it happen, and in turn receive the blessings they come there seeking for.
But I came back with one question bothering my mind, “Called ‘Lord-of-World’, why then the entry in to temple is limited to one specific religion?”