08 July 2019
Puri: Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) and Goddess Laxmi enthrall the devotees by performing human-like rituals during the divine 9-day Ratha Yatra. Hera Panchami is one of the numerous exciting rituals held during this annual affair symbolizing the conjugal love between Lord Jagannath and His wife Goddess Laxmi.
During the divine Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannath leaves behind His wife Mahalaxmi in the temple and goes out to travel with His siblings Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. So Goddess Laxmi gets very angry. On the fifth day from Rath Yatra (Hera Panchami), she adorns herself and secretly visits the Gundicha temple to have a glimpse of the Lord on advice of Goddess Bimala, the tantric consort of Jagannath and guardian of Srimandir.
The servitors carry Goddess Laxmi on a palanquin in a grand procession to the Gundicha Temple which halts near Nandighosha (chariot of Lord Jagannath). As Lord Jagannath is surrounded by his siblings and devotees, He does not get a chance to meet His wife. The Pati Mahapatra- a representative of Lord Jagannath welcomes the Goddess. This angers and annoys Mahalaxmi more. So she throws ‘Moha Churna’ (a herb powder to attract husband) given to her by Goddess Bimala so that her husband returns to Srimandir early.
As a part of the herbal powder’s effect, the Pati Mahapatra offers an ‘Agyan Mala’ (a garland of consent) to Goddess Laxmi on behalf of Lord Jagannath assuring His return after three days.
But this does not pacify the Goddess. Seeing her furious, the servitors close the main door of the Gundicha temple. So she decides to return to the main temple. But in a unique and interesting ritual, she orders her attendants to damage a part of the Nandighosha chariot.
This event is watched by the devotees with great fun and excitement. It is also followed by Goddess Laxmi hiding behind a tamarind tree outside the Gundicha temple and then escaping to her home temple in secrecy. It is said that as the Goddess feels guilty of breaking a part of the Lord’s chariot, she returns to Srimandir without any procession, through a separate route known as Hera Gohri Lane.
Though a very important function in Rath Yatra, the rituals of Hera Panchami started only during the reign of Gajapati Kapilendra Deb. Before his period, this was observed in a symbolic manner with only recitation of mantras.