The idol of Lord Alarnath carved out of black marble.
Bhubaneswar, June 6: The deities of the Puri temple may be hibernating owing to sickness but their devotees still have prayers and messages to convey.
The present destination for the devotees therefore is the Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri village in Puri district where another form of Lord Jagannath is believed to be residing. The Alarnath temple is witnessing thousands of visitors everyday.
After the Debasnana Purnima, the divine siblings of the Jagannath temple in Puri get a high fever as a result of the lavish bathing during the festival.
Hence, they undergo treatment in a secret hideout. The devotees are deprived of getting a glimpse of their revered Lord Jagannath since the idols are replaced with patti dian or traditional painted images that are worshipped in the Puri temple during the fortnight long hibernation of the deities.
But it is believed that during this period Lord Krishna, who is worshipped as Lord Alarnath in Brahmagiri, gives the devotees the same spiritual joy as worshipping Lord Jagannath.
Besides, the khiri (rice porridge) prepared in the temple as an offering to the deity is immensely popular among visitors.
“Legend has it that the temple has been named after the Alwar royal dynasty of Rajasthan. It is believed that the shrine was established by one of the Alwar rulers and hence been named as Alwarnath or Alarnath,” said Bishnu Mohanty, a devotee.
Carved of black marble, the idol worshipped at the Alarnath temple has four arms holding conch, club, lotus and chakra.
Lord Vishnu’s mount Garuda, usually placed on a tall pillar in front of the deity, is seen kneeling near the feet of Alarnath here. Also, Lord Krishna’s queens Rukmini and Satyabhama are worshipped in the temple.
“It was saint Chaitanya who visited the shrine during the Anavasara period (hibernation) of Lord Jagannath to seek blessings of the deity here. Ever since it has become a tradition to pay a visit to Brahmagiri during the fortnight before rath yatra to get the same feeling of divine ecstasy as is felt in viewing Lord Jagannath,” said Surya Narayan Rath Sharma, a Jagannath culture expert.
The queue outside the Alarnath temple during this period, stretches to a few kilometers as devotees from far and wide flock to the destination.
The khiri sellers of the temple await this period as it is business time for them. Be it takeaways or sale on the spot, there is a huge demand for their product.
“Though we get visitors throughout the year, the footfall reaches lakhs everyday during this fortnight. Hence we indeed look forward to this period since it earns us profit worth lakhs,” said a khiri trader of the temple.