Worship of Lord of the Universe Jagannatha – Lord of the Universe is considered as a form or incarnation of Lord Vishnu, one of the Hindu triad. Since he is the cause of all incarnations and everything emanates from him, Jagannatha does not have a life story unlike other deities of the Hindu pantheon.
A brief history about the deity
The Lunar dynasty King Indradyuma had set out in search of the Nil Madhava or the Blue Vishnu at the Nilachal mountains. However, the great God disappeared even before the King could reach the mountains and refused to manifest in that particular forum. Instead, God instructed Indradyuma to carve out Jagannatha, Balabhadra, Subhadra, and the Sudarshan Chakra from a single log of scented wood. the signs of the sankha, chakra, gada, and the Padma would be manifest on the log for identification.
Following this God Vishwakarma embarked on the mission of carving the idols on the condition that the work would be carried out behind closed doors and no one would see it before completion. However, the King or his wife could not contain the curiosity and tried to steal a peek at which Viswakarma disappeared without finishing the work of carving and thus the incomplete form. Scholars however opine that the deity is a tribal God who was worshiped on the mountains and turned into a Vedic God much later.
Time and way of worship
Worship of Lord Jagannatha involves elaborate rituals that begin from 5 am and end at midnight. Doors open with Mangal arati, followed by inspection and taking off of previous day’s clothes, putting on the towel and the Abhishek or cleaning and the dressing. The deities again change their clothes and an offering is made in the kitchen that is followed by several pujas. The deities retire after the night bhog or the offering of food.
Beliefs and benefits of worship
Worship of Jagannatha is the worship of the creator and sustainer who immediately preserves the human who chants his name by removing her or his sins. The faithful are emancipated from all her or his earthly bindings of evil and ready to meet the Ultimate in the next world.
Religious festivals associate with the deity
The Ratha Yatra or the Car Festival is the most famous festival associated with Lord Jagannatha all over the country but especially Puri Temple that is the primary dwelling place. The Lord goes for a change of air for a fortnight after which during Ulta Ratha or return festival, he returns to the Temple.
The region where the deity is worshipped most
The primary festival of the Lord is of course conducted in Puri, Orissa, but the festival is celebrated with much fervor all over Eastern India. Large chariots are brought out on the city streets with the deities that are followed with much devotion. Kolkata, Mayapur, and several other places where the ISKON have Temples celebrate the festival with much fanfare.