Snana Yatra is a bathing festival celebrated on full moon day / Purnima in the month of Jyeshtha. It is an important festival for the Sanatana or the Hindu dharma. This is the birthday of Lord Jagannatha. It is the first occasion of the year according to the Hindu calendar, when the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan and Madanmohan are taken from the Puri Jagannath temple and taken in procession to Snana Bedi. There, they bathe and decorate for an audience with the devotees.
Snana Yatra Religious Importance:
It is a belief among Lord Jagannath’s devotees that if they make a pilgrimage to see the deity on that day, they will be cleansed from all their sins. Hundreds of thousands of the devotees visit the temple on this occasion. The Skanda Purana mentions that King Indradyumna organized this ceremony for the first time when the idols of the deities first settled.
Snana Yatra Ceremonies Conducted:
On the eve of Snana Yatra (which means the feast of the divine bath, in Sanskrit), the idols of the deities are brought out in great procession from the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) to the Snana Bedi. Devotees come to see the deities.
On Snana Yatra day, the deities bathed with 108 pots of purified water ritually drawn from the north well of the temple to accompany religious enchantments. At night, at the end of the bathing ritual, Jagannath and Balabhadra dress in an elephant headdress representing the God Ganesh. This form of God is called “Gajavesha”.
After the Snana Yatra the Gods are traditionally believed to fall ill and are kept in a sick room to recuperate in privacy under the care of the Raj Vaidya. During this period known as Anasara the Gods cannot be seen by devotees. At this time three pata chitra paintings are displayed for devotees to view instead It is said that with the Ayurvedic medication (‘pnachan’) administered by the Raj Vaidya the Gods recover in a fortnight and resume giving an audience to their devotees.
During the Anasara period devotees head to the Alarnatha Mandira in Bramhagiri in the belief that Jagannath manifests as Alarnatha during this period