| The entrance to the convention centre at ITI Square in Balasore. Telegraph pictute |
Balasore, March 11: It is Jai Jagannath all the way for the people of Balasore. With the commencement of the 10-day religious event Biswa Jagannath Chetana Mahadhibeshan yesterday, people of Balasore have started to rush towards ITI Square to take part in the festivities.
This is a rare opportunity when people bury their religious differences and come forward to witness the 32 beshas (garb) including the extraordinary Nagarjuna and Raghunath beshas of Lord Jagannath. The devotees also get a taste of the chappan bhog (offerings) which is otherwise only available at the Sri Jagannath temple in Puri.
Balasore is one of the 26 venues of the state that conducts this religious event. For many people who came from different places, this exhibition was their first experience.
“Although we have been amidst this sea of people for about six hours, we don’t feel like hungry and thirsty. We have all gathered here to catch a glimpse of the different beshas of Sri Jagannath and observe some of the typical rituals,” said Madhulisha Das, a local resident.
“Till now, we have only heard or read about the various beshas of Jagannath. But now we are fortunate to see them at one venue and have the bhog also,” said Ranjita Panda, a visitor.
A namesake of the revered deity, septuagenarian Jagannath Mandal from a faraway village was also caught struggling to move ahead in the crowd. “As a devout Hindu, I was very keen to attend this event. Some people also claimed to have seen a moth resembling the lord near the yagna area,” he said.
During these 10 days, the rituals, including 1,00,055 Atti Bishnu Maha Yagna, would be carried out according to the traditions of the Sri Jagannath temple of Puri. Besides, the priests, cooks, trained drummers, pipers and decorators have also come here from Puri.
In the evenings, cultural events and discourses by speakers and scholars following the Jagannath cult would be conducted. A local Sidhhi Vinayak temple committee has been managing the show along with the support of the district administration. Around 500 volunteers have been engaged for conducting the festival smoothly.
Organisers here claim that the venue had been chosen for this festival following an agyan or divine instruction of the lord.
“This festival is arranged to propagate the cult and to generate consciousness for Lord Jagannath, as well as to promote peace and harmony. We are overwhelmed at the interest and participation of the people. People of all religious faiths can participate here. But, the Hindus, however, can only sit for the yagnas,” said Pandit Suryanarayan Ratha Sharma, one of the organisers.