| Mahaprasad being sold at a roadside stall in Puri.
Picture by Sarat Patra |
Many devotees partook of mahaprasad (food offered to Lord Jagannath and his siblings) at the Sri Gundicha temple in Puri on Wednesday.
The preparation of mahaprasad had been stopped for the last four days after deities embarked on their holy journey to Sri Gundicha temple, two kilometres away from Puri Jagannath temple.
As per tradition and practice, mahaprasad is not prepared on the day of rath yatra. Before rath yatra, the mahaprasad is also not available to devotees for 15 days as the deities remain in the anasara garbha gruha because of illness.
After they come out of the anasara garbha gruha on the day of nabajauban, the mahaprasad is prepared and served to the devotees. Later, the cooking of food is stopped in the temple after the deities leave for Sri Gundicha temple.
Senior servitor, Madhusudan Pratihar said: “Today (Wednesday), mahaprasad was served to the devotees. On the first day, the supakars (cooks) have prepared mahaprasad nearly for 80,000 devotees. About 100 quintals of rice was cooked. Similarly, an equal proportion of dal, vegetables and other items were cooked. These are all part of mahaprasad.”
To prepare food, every year the supakars repair the chuli (place for cooking) in Sri Gundicha temple ahead of rath yatra.
“However, this year the mahaprasad was delayed by nearly 36 hours following a fracas in the wake of a lathicharge by the police in which some sevayats and devotees were injured,” said Pratihari.
Pratihari further said he had got an order to serve mahaprasad to nearly 2,000 devotees. “There is a lot of pressure during this period. Every one demands quality mahaprasad. We also never compromise with the quality of the food. However, the price rise of essential commodities has an impact on the mahaprasad. A devotee can avail mahaprasad by spending only Rs 30,” he said.
Senior servitor, Jagannath Das Swain Mohapatra said: “As mahaprasad is dear to Lord Jagannath, all the devotees visiting Puri during rath yatra want to get mahaprasad.”