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Chandan Jatra

Held in the month of Baisakha (April-May), the festival of Chandan Jatra in fact is an episodic streak of events running for 42 days. Lord Jagannatha’s festivals are designed in such a way that for every season he has got something special to celebrate.

Chandan JatraThe  festival in consonance with it's name is referred to the practice of using loads of Sandalwood paste on the Lord to ward off the effect of the scorching heat of summer .  Lord Jagannath of Puri is dipped in the water mixed with chandan i.e sandal wood and Jasmine. The lord is also taken out to the Narendra Sarovar (a tank reserved exclusively for the Lord) where he is rowed around for hours to ward off the effect of the summer heat.

This festival of Chandan Jatra starts with Akshaya Tritiya and on this day the construction of chariots also starts for Rathayatra. On all the twenty-one days, when the Lord goes out for rowing, the entire road from the Jagannath temple  to the “Narendra Sarobar” along with the houses on both sides are decorated. At some places, especially in front of ‘Maths’, (monasteries) or at cross-roads big ‘toranas’ (arches) are erected.

The representative images of the deities installed in temples such as “Madanmohana” (representing Lord Jagannath), “Laxmi” and “Saraswati” are taken in a richly decorated palanquin by the ‘Sevakas’ accompanied by priests, musicians and dancers to the Narendra Sarobar at night.The tank is decorated with lights and flowers. Thousands of spectators keep waiting with devotion for the arrival of the procession of deities. On well decorated palanquins or Dolis called Vimanas comes the first set of deities; Laxmi,Saraswati and Madanmohan. In the next set two deities Rama and Krishna comes and in the third set adorning in five Vimanas comes the five representatives of lord Siva or Chalanti Pratimas of Siva named as Panchu Pandav.

After reaching the Narendra Sarobar, the idols are placed in small cubical water tanks of about 1 ft by 1ft.These tanks are filled with water flavored in sandalwood paste and jasmine and some other favoring articles. After resting a while the deities are placed on different well-decorated boats and they are rowed for a long time by the Sevakas. During the rowing ceremony ‘Devadasis’ (temple-dancers) dance and sing on the boat. Generally, the colors chosen for the boats are red and white and they are so designed to look like huge swans floating on water. The peculiarity of the ceremony is that Madanmohana with Laxmi and Saraswati rides on the white colored raft where-as Ramakrishna with “Pancha Shivas” rides the red one. All the deities on the boat take several rounds in the water, which continue till early hours of the morning and then retire to the respective shrines. The last day of the festival is called “Bhaunri” (’Bhramari’ or circle) when special elaborate arrangements are made. After the ceremony, which usually takes place at mid-night, people enjoy performances of dance, drama and music specially arranged for this occasion.