Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

By Shalini Mahapatra


The Ratha Yatra of Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath is kicked-off with the Deva Snan Yatra and ends with the Niladri Bije Yatra. From start to end the entire period is divided into six yatras, covering approximately 15-16 days (from Jyeshtha purnima to Ashad shukla dwitiya).  

Snana Yatra is followed by Anabasara Yatra which is the second ritualistic yatra of the Trinity. The period between the Snana Yatra and Ratha Yatra is referred to as the Anabasar Yatra.

Shri Jagannath, the Living Deity of the Kali Yuga is said to be engrossed in ‘Manaviya Leela’- or human-like activities. Jyeshtha purnima marks the birth of Lord Jagannath and also the religious bathing ritual prevalently known as the Deva Snan Purnima.

Too much of bathing in the humid weather of Puri causes the Deities to catch a bad chill leading to fever and this then leads to the quarantine of the Gods for a fortnight. This period of sickness is the Anabasar period of the Gods. The word ‘Anabasar’ is a combination of two words ‘Na’ and ‘Abasara’.

The Niti-Kanti or process of rituals performed inside the Anabasar Gruha, is not available for public viewing and is known as ‘Gupta Shabara Seva’ done by the Daitapati sevayats.

Dasaavatar Patti

During the sick period of the divine trinity, the deities are kept in seclusion in the custody of the Daitapati sevaks. The idols are kept cordoned behind a temporary rattan fence within the temple premises. Three barricaded enclosures are erected for the three Deities. The Patti meaning the traditional Pattachitra painting, known as the ‘Dasaavatar Patti’- the pictoral presentation of the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu - is offered ritualistic worship by the Daitapati and the Pati Mohapatra sevaks on the Abasara Pindi.

The Dasaavatara Patti painting has images of seven deities and totals ten along with the idols of Sri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Sri Jagannath.

Bamadeva Samhita

नरसिंघम राम कृष्णम चः श्री भू भद्रः स्वरुपिणी
कृष्ण  नारायणम तनीसप्त वरण बिगरहः।

The above lines illustrate the Dasaavatar Patti. The sick enclosure of Lord Balabhadra has the Patti of three Deities – Sri Narsingha, Rama, and Krishna. Devi Subhadra’s enclosure has the Patti of two Deities Devi Lakshmi and Devi Saraswati; the enclosure of Shri Jagannath has the Patti of two Deities Krishna and Narayana. All together along with Shri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Shri Jagannath in total adds up to ten Deities. Together they form the Dasaavatar Patti.

The rituals during the quarantine period are strictly off-limits to public viewing. The public audience of the Trinity is barred until Ratha Yatra day.

Patti Diyan

During the fortnight of sickness, the Ratnabedi in the sanctum sanctorum of the Sri Mandir remains vacant. The Gods remain in the sick quarters. In the absence of the Divine Triad, the ‘Patti Diyan’, the vibrant pattachitra paintings of the three Gods in beautiful distinct forms are offered worship inside the main temple.

Each Patta painting is around 5.5 feet long and 4 feet wide and depicts Shri Balabhadra as Ananta Vasudev, Devi Subhadra is depicted as Goddess Bhubaneswari and Shri Jagannath is seen as Ananta Narayana.

While the deities of Shri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Shri Jagannath, are incomplete and unstructured, in the pattachitra they manifest themselves in human-like appearance, with suitable attire and ornamentation.

These paintings are worshipped inside the temple from the Anabasar period up to the day on which the Trinity returns from the annual sojourn that they undertake to the Gundicha temple during the annual Ratha Yatra.

Special chitrakara sevaks (painters) are assigned the task of painting the Patti Diyan. The patta or silken cloth is the canvas used for these paintings. Special rituals are followed for the creation of these paintings. The chitrakars initiate the paintings on Jyestha amavasya and complete the paintings by Jyestha purnima, the day celebrated as the Snan Yatra of the Triad. The day after Snan Purnima these colourful traditional paintings are installed in the Sri Mandira as the representatives of the ailing Lords. The paintings are made with organic natural pigments and colours.

Alarnath Temple 

During the fifteen days of quarantine, Shri Jagannath manifests Himself as Shri Alarnath in Chaturbhuja Vishnu form along with Lakshmi and Saraswati. He gives darshan to His devotees at the Alarnath or the Alwarnath temple around 23 km from Puri at a place called Brahmagiri. The divinely beautiful deity in the Alarnath Temple is made of black stone and has all the signature traits of Lord Vishnu.

As per legend, it is believed that Lord Jagannath was kept in the custody of Viswavasu the tribal king, as Nilamadhav in the Nilachal hills before reincarnating Himself in wooden form as Shri Jagannath in Puri. It is believed that the deity enshrined inside the Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri is that of Shri Nilamadhav, who gives darshan to His devotees during the Anabasar isolation of the Triad.

As per another legend, it is conveyed that in Satya Yuga, Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Vishnu atop a hill. One day Bhagwan Vishnu appeared and asked Brahma to create a four-armed idol of Him at the same place. He specified that the idol be carved out of black stone and should be holding the shankha, chakra, gada, and padma. 

He further instructed that an idol of His divine carrier Garuda also be installed inside the temple.  Finally, Lord Vishnu named the place, Brahmagiri, the Giri (hill) where Brahma had worshipped Lord Vishnu. Brahma, on the instructions from Sri Bhagawan acted accordingly and created Lord Alarnath, another form of Lord Vishnu.


According to others in on the secret, the fortnight of sickness is also the leisure period of Shri Jagannath. It is believed that during the Anabasar the Lord is engaged in the madhura rasa or romantic mellows with His divine spouse Maha Lakshmi.

The fifteen days of seclusion is the intimate time He spends with his wife. He is engaged in dedicating time and presence by showering His love and attention on His beloved consort, Goddess  Lakshmi in Swakriya-Rasa bhava or wedded congujal mellows. This aspect of swakriya-rasa is likened to the conjugal mellows enjoyed by Shri Krishna with his married queens in Dwarka.

Post the fifteen-day swakriya phase with His spouse, Shri Jagannath will be engaged in the parakiya rasa or paramour mellows with His sweethearts – the Braja gopis.

Treatment and Maintenance  

The Divine Trinity– Shri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Shri Jagannath along with Shri Sudarshan are called Daru Brahma the Supreme Divinity in wood. The sickness time of the Gods is also the time when the Gods are given their annual “maintenance” consisting of intricate medicinal ‘treatments’ and a fresh coat of paint touch-up before They give the public Their divine darshan on the Ratha Yatra day. The treatment and maintenance happen simultaneously in the Gupta Shabara Seva.

The Royal Physician of the Lords takes care of the medicinal requirements. Under his supervision, the Gods are treated to several Ayurvedic concoctions. Ayurvedic medicines made by combining ten herbal ingredients that include belacheli, gambahri, pateli, fanafana, aagabathu, krusnaparni, shalaparni, ankranty and labingkoli are hand pounded, crushed, mixed as per prescribed proportions and thereafter administered to the Deities.

On panchami, the fifth-day post the Snan Yatra the ‘Phuluri Taila Niti’ – an aromatic oil made by the Bada Odia mutt is applied to the Deities. Phuluri oil is made with hand-pressed sesame oil which is infused with flowers such as ketaki, malli, bakula, champa, kia, khas roots, sesame oil, sandalwood powder, camphor, rice grains and other ingredients.

On Hera Panchami when the Gods are at the Shri Gundicha temple, the concoction is put in earthen pots and buried under the earth to preserve it for a year in the Bada Odia Mutt premises. On the fourth day of Anabasar, the pots are dug out of the earth, strained and then made ready to be transported to the Anabasar Gruha, to be applied on the “sick” deities by the Daitapati Sevayatas. The application of this oil protects the Divine wood from insects.

The oil massage is followed by the application of an organic sticky gum, naturally extracted from wood apples (bilva) and benzoin resin (Jhuna) laid down in the Ourasa Lagi Niti. This process continues from sashti to navami. On the tenth day, the Deities are said to have gained dosha balance and feel better.

They are made to sit upright in the Chaka Bije Niti. On ekadashi the eleventh day, the application of ‘Khadee’ or limestone paste is done. On the Khadilagi Ekadashi day, ‘Dasamula Modaka’- herbal medicinal globules cooked in jaggery, milk solids and ghee are served to the Trinity.

On dwadashi, the 12th day, the Daitapati Sevaks inform the Gajapati Maharaj, the King of Puri regarding the improvement in the health of the Divine Lords in the Raja Prasad Bije Niti. The King is given an update on the health status of the Gods.

Trayodashi- day 13, silken strings that have been hand braided by the Patuari Bisoyee Sevakas are coiled on the idols of the Deities by the Daitapatis in the Ghanalagi  Niti. This process takes almost half a day.

The Ghanalagi follows the ‘Banakalagi Niti’. The face and the final touch-up makeup of the Deities happen in this ritual. The idols are painted afresh in vibrant colors by the Datta Mahapatra Sevayats.

Throughout the entire fifteen-day period of Anabasar, the Daitas repaint the images in a phased manner that is divided into seven short periods, each of two days duration and one day set apart to give final finishing touches.

Netra Utsav and Navajouban Darshana

Post the painting of the idols in line with the Banakalagi Niti, the Netrotsav the Festival of the Eyes is done on the morning of Ubha Amavasya, a day before the Ratha yatra. The Eyes of the Gods that were repainted are still considered to be closed. In the ‘Netronmilanam Niti’ the ritualistic opening of the eyes is conducted.  The ritual includes the touching of the right eye of the Deities’ with a Tulasi (holy basil) wand dipped in honey.

Thereafter the left eye of the Deities’ is touched with tulsi wand dipped in ghee. Then specially-prepared kajal (kohl) is applied on the edge of the lower eyelids of both eyes of the Deities’ amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras.  

After the Netronmilanam Niti, the Divine Trio is back to their healthy selves and with open eyes are ready to give an audience to the devotees. This ritual of restoring the vision of the Triad is known as Netra Utsav.

Navajoubana Vesha

The Deities are rejuvenated! Feeling fresh and energetic they are ready to undertake the Shri Gundicha Ratha Yatra. The evening before the Ratha Yatra day the Gods appear before their devotees in the ‘Navajoubana Vesha’ – new youthful forms.

Filled with excitement and vigour after the lull of sickness the Deities are in eager anticipation of the chariot ride scheduled on the next day.

This period also marks the last phase of the chariot construction which starts on Akshay Tritiya day. The three grand chariots are painted, decorated and made ready for the annual trip to Shri Gundicha.

The Chariots leave the ‘Ratha Khala’- chariot construction enclosure - and remain parked in front of the Singha-dwara, amidst religious singing and dancing. The chariots are now ready for the annual Ratha Yatra, to be undertaken the next day by the Divine Trinity.

सर्वरहस्यन्ग्-पुरुशोत्तमस्य, देवो-न-जनति-कुतह्-मनुश्य॥”

He is the all mystifying Purushottama, whose secrets are not known even to the Gods. We are but mere humans.

Shri Jagannath is the human-like Transcendental Divinity. He enjoys boat rides, He has a great bath, He catches a chill, He gets treated and recovers and He enjoys an annual outing. He is all-pervading. He is absent from the Sri Mandira but present at Brahmagiri as Shri Alarnath Narayana.

He is infinite. He is the Supreme Unresolved Enigma. He is diverse and ever-diversifying to bond with his devotees in ever new and newer ways.

Let Jagannath Swami be the purpose of my vision.


Jai Jagannath!!

Jai Gurudev!

Jai Jai Shri Radhey !