Chandana Lagi Besha of Jagannatha

Chandana Jatra

Specials | Akshaya Trutiya

Today, on Akshaya Trutiya starts the magnificient Chandana Jatra, in which the gods are smeared with sandalwood paste to relieve them of the summer. This is one of the longest celebrations of the Jagannatha Temple. It spans 42 days — the first half being called Bahara Chandana and the second, Bhitara Chandana. In the first half, or till 21 days from today, the gods are taken to the Narendra Pokhari for boatrides.

On each day of these 21 days, the Madanamohana deity is dressed in various festive costumes. Madanamohana is the representative image of Lord Jagannatha, a concept known as bije pratima. During most rituals and festivals, it is this deity that participates. The image itself is made of Ashtadhatu and depicts a flute-playing Krishna. No wonder this little Krishna is the one of the most important ones in the entire temple- second only to the original Jagannatha inside the sanctum sanctorum. And yes, excuse me for calling him ‘adorable’ — the old Odishan school of miniature idols had mastered that.


In this 18th-century song, the poet Pitambara gives an eyewitness account of the ceremonial Chandana Jatra of Lord Jagannatha. He goes on to describe each of the 21 Beshas in all their glory. Especially interesting is the vivid sight he recreates - something that is still the same after almost 300 years. Do listen.

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