30 June 2019
Puri: The 11th century Lokanatha temple in the town of Puri is ranked next to the Sri Jagannath Temple. Legend says that the lingam in this temple was established by Lord Ramachandra.
According to the folklore, when Lord Rama was on his way to Lanka to seach Sita, he reached Puri and sat with a vow to see Lord Shiva here. The villagers presented him a Lau or Lauki (a type of vegetable) looking like a Shiva Linga. Lord Rama installed that as a manisfestation of Lord Shiva and prayed Him to fulfill his desire. From that day, the Shiva Linga is referred to as ‘Laukanath’ which over the years have changed into ‘Lokanatha’.
The Shiva Linga is preserved in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, which is covered with water throughout the year by a natural fountain, substantiating the legend that Goddess Ganga flow through the top of the Shiva Linga as a stream.
The Linga is made visible to the devotees only once in every year. On the night of Pankoddhar Ekadashi (3 days before Mahashivratri), the water is bailed out and it becomes visible for darshan.
According to a local belief, the people suffering from incurable diseases get cured here by taking the special ‘prasad’. The flowers, coconut water, sandal paste, bel leaves, milk, curd, etc offered to the Lord throughout the year remain decomposed in the water creating a unique prasad which is taken by the devotees to be cured from their diseases.
Lord Lokanath’s utsava murti (representative image) is in the Jagannath Temple, known as the Bhandara Lokanatha. He is the guardian deity of the Ratnabhandara (treasure house) of Shri Jagannath Temple.
Lord Lokanath is associated with Lord Jagannath in various festivals like Chandan Yatra, Shivaratri, Sital Sasthi, etc.
This temple is one of the five famous Shiva temples in Puri. Others are Markandeswara Temple, Jambeswar Temple, Banambara Temple and Kapalamochana Temple.