Deva-Snana Purnima: Odias Celebrate Shri Jagannatha’s Birthday

Gajanan Besha in Houston

HOUSTON: Deva Snana Purnima is celebrated on the full-moon day (Purnima) of the month of Jyestha month of the Indian calendar. Odias, the people from the eastern coastal state of Odisha in India, mark this day as the birthday of Shri Jagannatha and observe the day with pomp and gaiety. Snana Purnima, also known as Snana Jatra is one of the annual occasions when the deities, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannatha leave their abode, the garba-griha or the sanctum sanctorum of the Shri Jagannatha Temple and come out for a ceremonial bath, snana means bath. The bathing and ablution are carried out with water from the well within the precincts of the Shri Mandira in Puri.

Snana Purnima showcases the coming together of spirituality and ritualistic details, where the Lord of the Universe, Jagannatha is depicted in a ‘humanized’ way, emphasizing a divinity that is easily approachable and relatable. But again the ablutions have a code of conduct as enshrined in “Niladri Mohadaya”, that are followed religiously, like exactly 108 pitchers of water are used for the ceremonial bathing. The ceremonial bathing and Besha is performed at Snana Mandapa. This Mandapa is designed in such a way that even people outside the temple can enjoy the ceremony.

Akshaya Tritya which was celebrated in the month of May, marked the beginning of the grand annual festival of Ratha Yatra, with the commencement of construction of the three majestic wooden Ratha – chariots. Snana Purnima is the final leg towards Ratha Jatra build-up. As following the ablutions, the three beloved deities, are dressed up in Gajanana or Ganesha Besha and for the subsequent period of 15 days, known as the ‘Anasara’, the deities have a temporary disappearance from the public domain. In local folklore, it is said that the deities are not keeping well. During this phase of 15-days following Snana Purnima, the bathed wooden idols are repainted and redecorated. At the end of this ‘Anasara’ period the deities emerge for public darshan just a day before the famous Ratha Yatra.

We in the Houston Odia community like our brethren world-wide have geared up the forth-coming Ratha-Yatra. At the serene environs of Shri Jagannatha Mandira – Houston, 3101 Fuqua St., Houston,TX Snana Purnima was observed on June 16th 2019. The resident Odia community celebrated this pious day with prayer and offerings to Shri Jagannatha, followed by an Odia-style lunch-prasad.

The Houston Odia community led by Orissa Culture Center (OCC) in collaboration with Shri Sitaram Foundation will celebrate Houston’s twelfth Jagannatha Ratha-Yatra on July 6th, 2019 at the India House, 8888 W Bellfort Blvd., Houston, TX. This is a day-long event emphasizing the philosophy of Univeralism. The 2019 Jagannatha Ratha-Yatra in Houston will proudly host ‘samskruti-o-sangam’ which is a rich mélange of dance forms including Mariachi, Chinese Dance and Indian Classical Dance, with a mix of music represented by Rock Band and Qawwali.