Diwali of the Gods

From today starts the 3-day long Deva-Deepawali, the Diwali of the gods. Countless lamps are lit in the Jagannatha Temple. In the nights of Margashira, clad in flowing white, the triad offer bright diyas to their forefathers. The triad offer five lamps- for Aditi-Kashyapa, Dasharatha-Kaushalya, Nanda-Yashoda, Devaki-Vasudeva and Indradyumna-Gundicha.

Indradyumna was the king who built the original temple of Jagannatha. As the legend goes, he opened the door of the craftsman’s chamber, sensing his wife, Queen Gundicha’s anxiety- thus breaking the artisan’s condition of not opening the door before 21 days. Thus the ancient legend explains why the Jagannatha triad are incomplete. When Jagannatha wishes to grant a boon- the great king prays to be bereft of children- for his children may claim the Puri temple to be ‘theirs.’

And so, each year, Jagannatha himself offers funeral obeisances to the King and the Queen- Indradyumna and Gundicha. Hence, the Shraddha Besha at Puri is rather special- for a common devotee is elevated to the status of a God’s parent.

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