Lord Jagannath, the Lord of Universe is a highly humanized deity. He bridges the gap between men and the divine. Like we human’s perform various day-to-day activities, Lord Jagannath also performs similar day-to-day activities like waking up, taking bath, changing clothes, eating delicious food, sleeping, etc.
The daily rituals (niti’s) of Lord Jagannath is very elaborate and complex involving a multitude of functionaries. We shall explain them below.
First let me tell you about the temple timings. The Jagannath Puri temple opens daily at 5:00 am and closes at 12:00 at midnight and in between there are numerous rituals which are followed in a specified chronological order.
Daily Rituals / Puja Timings of Lord Jagannath :
Dwarpitha and Mangal Aarati at 5:00 am :
On normal days, the ceremonial opening of the temple doors takes place at 5:00 am in the presence of 5 Sevayats (Bhitarchu Mahapatra; Pratihari; Muduli; Akhanda Mekap and Palia Mekap) after verification of the “seal” given by a particular sevayat in the last night. After opening of all the doors the inner part of the temple is purified in sacred water and then Mangal Arati – the first Aarti of the morning is performed.
Mailam at 6:00 am :
After Mangal Arati is over the next ritual is Mailam i.e, changing of clothes of Lord Jagannath. Three Sevayats Khuntia; Changada Mekap and Brahmin Dhoba go up to the Ratnavedi and remove the decorations; dresses and flowers of the deities which were worm by them on the previous night and dress the deity with clothes known as “Tadap” and “Uttariya”.
Abakash at 6:00 to 6:30 am :
Ahakash are the purificatory daily rites like brushing of teeth, scrapping of tongue and symbolic bath. During Abakash rites; people are not allowed to enter into the sanctum, but they can have a glimpse of the deities, standing just in front of the Bhitara Kath Argali. After this ceremony, the Temple Jyotishi (Astrologer) reads out the tithi (day and date) and other astrological details of the day according to which rest of the rituals of the day are performed.
Mailam at 6:45 am :
After Abakash the deities change their clothes (Tadap and Uttariya) and wear another set of clothes. This time around, they wear Baralagi Khanduas. Then a sevak known as “Akhanda Mekap” keeps Akhanda Baitha i.e. a lamp near the ratnavedi, which remains burning for whole day and night.
Sahana Mela from 7:00 to 8:00 am :
Sahana Mela refers to one hour period from 7 to 8 am in the morning when the deity gives darshan to all his devotees. During this time, people can go up to “Ratnavedi” or inner sanctums to have a Darshan, however devotees are not allowed to touch the deities.
On certain festive days, Sahanamela is held after “Sandhya dhupa” (Evening Puja or Sandhya Aarati in the month of Kartik) and after Sakaldhupa (in the month of Pausha). Some times this darshan is not allowed for some special rituals of the deities.
Beshalagi at 8:00 am :
During this ritual, the deities are adorned with gold and precious stones, flowers, etc. Beshalagi ritual is done by the Puspalak Sevaks. This ritual can be witnessed by devotees however from a little distance i.e., from Bhitara Kath Argali.
Rosha Homa, Surya Puja, Dwarapal and Garuda Puja from 8:00 to 8:30 am :
The next ritual includes “Rosha Homa” – fire sacrifice in the kitchen of the temple performed by Pujapandas before initiation of the cooking process for the day. Next is the “Suryas Puja” – worship fo Sun God done after completion of the Rosha Homa at the Surya temple near Mukti Mandap.
Next is the Dwarapal and Garuda Puja during which the images of two gate keepers Jaya and Vijaya on the entrance main door (Jaya Vijaya Dwara) are worshipped followed by worship of Guard named Garuda.
Gopala Ballava Puja at 9:00 am :
This is the time of breakfast of their deities. This Bhoga is served in Anabasra Pindioutside the sanctum and it includes items like Paga Khai (sweet popcorn), coconut sweets (kora), sweet bananas, Khuarnanda curd, butter and small coconut pieces, etc. Puja is performed by the Pujapandas in Panchopchar system.
Sakala Dhupa at 10:00 am :
Sakala Dhupa refers to the regular morning food offering. At this time puja is performed by 3 Pujapandas with 16 Upachars or Sodasha Upachars.
Three Pujapandas sit on Ratnasinhasana to worship three deities Shri Balabhadra, Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath. The Pujapanda who worships Lord Jagannath also worships Sri Devi, Bhudevi, and Sudarshan.
The morning bhoga or food offered to the deities contains Rice, Kanika, Khechudi, Green leaves, Cakes etc. The local names of the Bhog are Pitha Puli, Hansakeli, Kanti, Enduri, Matha Puli, Kakatua Jhili, Bundia, Kadali Bhaja, Ada Pachedi (ginger tonic) etc. This bhoga is also called “Raja Bhoga” or “Kotha Bhoga”.
Mailam and Bhoga Mandap at 11:00 am :
After the Sakal Dhoop, deities again change their clothes and again a puja is performed, this time it takes place in “Bhoga Mandap”, a place behind the Garuda pillar of the temple. The time for this ritual is 11:00 am.
Huge quantity of Bhogas such as Rice, Dal, Curries, Saga and Cakes of different kinds etc. are offered to the Deities. For this bhoga, the puja is done by three Pujapandas under Panchopachar system.
The Mahaprasad out of Bhoga Mandap Puja are meant for public sale only and the cost of Bhoga Mandap offerings are not borne by the state or Temple Administration. Depending on the demand, such Bhoga Mandap Puja is perfroemd once, twice or thrice in a day i.e. after “Madhyanha Dhoop” and “Sandhya Dhup” also.
Madhyahna Dhupa from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm :
Madhyahna Dhupa refers to the mid-day meal of the deities. At this time also, puja is performed by 3 Pujapandas with 16 Upachars or Sodasha Upachars.
As compared to the Sakala Dhupa, there are more number of Bhogas items in this offering. Items offers include arisha, pitha puli, tipuri, mathpuli, kakara, chadheilada, tata manohar, khairachula, marichaladu, pheni, takua, gaja, biribadi, anna, mugadali, pitianna, oria, marichapani, khiri, subashpakhal, sakara and pana, etc.
On completion of the bhoga, arati is performed.
Mailam and Madhyanha Pahudha from 1:00 to 1:30 pm :
After the mid-day meal, deities again change their clothes and then a sevak called Khatseja Mekap brings in Four beds i.e Ratna Palankas and arranges then below the Simhasan. Badadwar Padhiari then invites the deities to come down from Ratna Simhasan and take rest on Ratna Palankas.
Soon after the Madhyanha Pahudha ritual, the Kalahat, Beharan and Jay-Bijay doors are closed. The doors reopen at 6:00 pm. This Pahuda is being operated only for a few days in the months of Kartika and Pausha (Pahilibhoga period). The system is generally being ignored due to delay in daily programme.
Sandhya Aarati at 6:00 pm :
Sandhya Arati is the evening Aarti of Sri Jagannath. The Aarti of Lord Jagannath is performed by Talachhu Mahapatra while Aarti of Sri Balabhadra and Sri Subhadra is done by two Puspalakas. Camphor Arati, 21 candles Arati and Sanjakali Arati is done by the Sevayats; standing below the Simhasan in front of the deities.
On all Ekadashi days and on the days when Madhyahna Pahuda is arranged, Mailam i.e., change of dresses and decorations are done after the evening Arati. On rest of the days, the Mailam is done before the evening Arati.
Sandhya Dhupa from 7:00 to 8:00 pm :
Sandhya Dhupa refers to the evening meal of the deities. At this time also, puja is performed by 3 Pujapandas with 16 Upachars or Sodasha Upachars. however during this meal, Bhoga amount is less in quantity and number.
The items offered to the deities during this meal include kaanla puli, takua, mathpuli, bhog pitha, gotali, bada kakara, sana kakara, luna khuruma, amalu, suar pitha, rosh paika hiribuha, jhadeinada, subash pakhal, sana and bada kadamba, etc.
After this bhoga, a Jaya Mangal Arati is performed for the betterment of the universe.
Mailam and Chandana Lagi at 10:00 pm :
After Sandhya Dhupa, deities again change their dresses. However before wearing these clothes, deities are smeared with sandalpaste, mixed with champhor, keshar and Kasturi. This ritual is known as Chandan Lagi.
Badasimhar Vesha and Badasimhar Dhupa from 10:30 to 11:15 pm :
After Chandan lagi, deities are dressed with Badasimhar Vesha which is a colourful floral decoration with special items like karapallab, kundal, tadiga, chandrika, etc. During this ritual the deities look enchanting in their grand make-up. The deities are clad with Barlagi Patas, traditional Orissan tie and dye cloths (silk clothes) Jaydev’s Gitagovind Slokas woven into them.
After this, deities are offered the last bhoga of the day. Puja is offered with Pancha Upachar by the Puja Pandas with Pakhal (watered rice), Kadali bada, Kshiri, Kanji etc.
There is no provision of Arati after this Bhog.
Khata Seja Lagi and Pahuda at 12.00 midnight :
This ritual is of deities going to sleep. As a part of this ritual, three small bejewelled beds (Ratna Palankas) are placed in front of the deities below the Ratnavedi or Ratnasimhasana. The deity of Sayana Thakur; a joint image of Laxmi and Narayan with eight hands and made of gold; is shifted from Bhandar Griha and placed by the
side of Sri Jagannath.
After this offering of green coconut, betels and camphor arati are made to the deities and then deities retire to their beds. The door is then sealed by the Sevayat (Talichha Mohapatra). Temple is closed and no visitors or outsiders are allowed to remain inside.
Note : Above we have tried to describe all the daily rituals of the Puri Jagannath Temple in brief. It is generally not possible to follow the time prescribed for each ritual on account of various practical difficulties. On the specific festive days, additional rituals are performed. As a result, changes in timings and alterations in the routine rituals are made.