Bhubaneswar: Today being the Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi tithi (1th day of the bright fortnight of Hindu month of Ashadha), Lord Jagannath and His siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are adorned with over 200 kg of gold ornaments for the ‘Suna Besha’ (golden costume) ritual.
The ‘Suna Besha’ ritual is underway with the deities seated atop the three majestic chariots- Taladhwaja, Darpadalana and Nandighosha parked in front of the Singhadwar (Lion’s Gate) of the Shree Mandir at Puri in the absence of devotees due to Covid-19 restrictions.
This is for the second consecutive year devotees have been barred from witnessing the spectacle of opulence from close quarters due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic. However, the spectacle is being live telecast on television and live-streamed on the internet for devotees to have darshan of the deities.
The gold ornaments used during the Suna Besha are known as Sri Hasta (golden hand), Sri Payara (golden feet), Sri Mukuta (golden big crown), Sri Mayur Chandrika (a golden peacock feather used by Lord Jagannath), Sri Chulapati (golden forehead costume which highlights facial beauty), Sri Kundal (golden hanging earrings), Sri Rahurekha (half square shaped decorative for the face), Sri Mala (necklaces with several design made of gold), Sri Chita (third eye of gods), Sri Chakra (golden wheel), Sri Gada (golden bludgeon), Sri Padma (golden lotus), Sri Sank (silver conch).
Suna Besha, also called ”Rajadhiraja Besha” is performed at least five times a year. It is conducted four times inside the 12th-century shrine when the deities are seated on the Ratna Simhasana, and once on the chariots.
On the occasion of Suna Besha different rituals like alati of the deities were performed atop the chariots between 6.00 AM to 6.30 AM, mailam at 7.00 AM, abakasha at 8.00 AM, besa at 9.00 AM, gopal ballav between 10.00-10.30 AM and sakala dhoopa between 11.00 to 12.00 noon.
Similarly, the rituals of mahasnana and sarbanga snana were held at 1.00 PM, besa sesha at 1.30 PM, madhyana dhoopa between 2.00 PM to 3.00 PM, mailam between 3.00 PM to 3.30 PM, and sarbanga niti at 4.00 PM.
Further, as per schedule the sandhya dhoopa was held between 8.00 PM to 9.00 PM, suna besha mailam, rati chandan lagi will be held between 11.00 PM to 12.00 AM, bada singhara besha at 1.00 AM, bada singhara bhoga at 1.30 AM and at 2.00 AM Sri Garuda sayan and ratri pahuda.
According to temple history, Suna Bhesha was introduced during the era of King Kapilendradeva in 1460 A.D.
When King Kapilendra Deb, who ruled between 1434 and 1466 AD, returned home triumphant after winning wars over the rulers of the Deccan (Southern India) he brought a huge bounty carried on 16 elephants. The trophies which he collected consisted of diamonds and gold.
The day he arrived in Puri he donated all the booty to Lord Jagannath.
He instructed the temple priests to get ornaments crafted out of gold and diamond to adorn the deities on the occasion of Rath Yatra.
Since then the deities are decorated with these jewellery after the Bahuda Yatra.
Generally, Suna Besha is observed five times during the year.
It happens on Vijaya Dashami in October, Kartika Purnima in November, Pausa Purnima in December, Magha Purnima in January and on Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi tithi in July.
While on all other occasions it is held inside the Shree Mandir, only on Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi tithi after Bahuda Yatra it is held outside the temple atop the chariots.