Puri: Devotees in a large number thronged the pilgrim city here in Odisha to have a glimpse of the rare and mesmerizing ‘Hati Besha’ of Holy Trinity (Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra) along with Lord Sudarshan on the ‘Snana Mandap’ (holy bathing altar) at Sri Mandir (Jagannath temple) here today.
Soon after the holy bathing ritual in the afternoon hours on the ceremonial holy bathing altar, the deities gave ‘darshan’ (divine glimpse) of ‘Gaja or Hati Besha’ to the devotees in which elder brother Lord Balabhadra and younger sibling Lord Jagannath bore the head of elephant replicating Lord Ganesha (God of Wisdom & Protection).
While the two brothers were dressed up like an elephant, their younger and loveable sister Devi Subhadra gave darshan to the devotees in lotus flower get up.
Prior to this enchanting ‘Gajanan Besha’ or ‘Gaja Besha’ or ‘Hati Besha’, Lord Jagannath’s first and foremost servitor Gajapati Dibya Singh Deb reached the Snana Mandap on ‘tamjan’ (royal palanquin), performed the traditional rituals amid chanting of ‘mantras’ (religious hymns), chiefly performed the ‘chhera pahanra’ (sweeping and purifying the august altar) and eventually paid obeisance to the deities.
The elegant elephant attire and the special costumes of the auspicious occasion are traditionally prepared by the artisans at Raghaba Das Mutt and Gopal Tirtha Mutt.
Behind this special ‘Gaja’ or ‘Hati Besha’ there is an anecdote.
Researchers mention that this unique darshan was given to one Pandit Ganapati Bhatt of Maharashtra’s Mahaganapatya community in the 15th century. Bhatt was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha and had visited the age-old shrine in Puri to have darshan of Lord Jagannath. On this Snana Purnima day, he witnessed ‘Chaturdha Murti’ (four idols) on Snana Mandap, but got disenchanted as he had wished to witness his presiding deity Lord Ganesha within Lord Jagannath.
However, Lord Jagannath believed to have disguised as a ‘sebayat’ (temple servitor) and insisted Pandit Bhatt to return to Sri Mandir. He got overwhelmed to have the cherished darshan of Lord Ganesha on the same Snana Mandap. Thenceforth, the deities are being decked up in the enchanting ‘Gajanan Besha’ or ‘Gaja Besha’ or ‘Hati Besha’ every year on the sacred occasion.