Don't disturb, god at rest

Devotees not allowed to meet diety during summer break

Reeling from the scorching heat, the mortals may take solace from the fact that even the gods are not immune to it.

The doors of the famous Jagannath temple at Varanasi have been closed fto devotees for a fortnight as the lord is ‘sick’ and is on complete bed rest. He is being served nothing but the traditional ‘kadha’ — a medicinal juice prepared from herbs.

The lord has caught a cold and the blame for that lies squarely on his devotees, who, out of their love for him, kept on pouring water on him to shield him from the blistering heat.

According to tradition, the deity is taken out from the temple by devotees for a snan yatra — a ritual where the deity is bathed to give it relief from the heat in summers. He is then taken back to the temple at Assi Ghat on the bank of the Ganges after the yatra is over.

“Devotees then give bath to the deity excessively and He catches a cold,” says Acharaya Ram Sharma, the temple’s mahant.

“The lord is then put on  complete bed rest and devotees are not allowed to have their darshan for a fortnight. The herbal juice prepared in a traditional way is given to the lord during this time,” he says.

He says devotees often come to the temple to inquire about the lord’s health. “They are given the kadha as prasad.” The kadha is said to have medicinal properties and according to mythology, can cure illness.

The Rath Yatra festival begins after the lord recovers from his illness at the end of the fortnight. The festival attracts lakhs of devotees from across the country. “It is an old tradition,” says Sharma.

The Jagannath temple in Varanasi is over 200 years old and is much like the Jagannath temple at Puri in Odisha. Both temples have similar architecture and have the same idols of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balram.

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