Suna Besha Today: Here Are Some Interesting Facts

Bhubaneswar: As the devotees anxiously look forward to the ‘darshan’ (holy glimpse) of the numero uno ‘Suna Besha’ of the Holy Triad (Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath), here are some interesting facts about the ritual.

Also known as Raja Besha or Rajarajeshwara Besha, the Suna Besha of the deities is observed five times a year when the Lord and His siblings adorn with gold and jewellery. But the one observed during Bahuda is called the Bada-Tadau Besha, where Tadau stands for gold. The amount of gold in this is much more than in all Suna Beshas.

The Bada-Tadau Besha is the only Suna Besha done outside the temple in the chariots. The other four Beshas’ are observed inside the temple during Magha Purnima, Dashahara (Vijyadashami), Karthik Purnima and Pousa Purnima when the deities are adorned with the ornaments on the Ratna Singhasana (gem studded altar).

On this occasion gold plates, Sri Hasta and Sri Payara, are decorated over the hands and feet of Jagannath and Balabhadra. Lord Jagannath is also adorned with a disc, Chakra, made of gold on the right hand while a silver conch adorns the left hand.

However, elder brother Balabhadra is decorated with a plough, Halla, made of gold on the left hand while a golden mace, Gada, adorns his right hand. Devi Subhadra is also prettily adorned with her best golden and diamond ornaments.

The other ornaments that the deities adorn are Harida Kadamba mali and Baghanakhi mali, only for Lord Jagannath, Kiritta, Ears, Bahada mali, Tabija mali or garlands, Kadamba mali, Sebati mali and Tilaka, Adakani, Chadra-Surya, Allaka, Odiani, Chandrika and Tadaki.

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).

The various designs of Sri Mala are Padam Mala (Lotus Shaped), Sevati Mala (Small Sun flower shape), Agasti Mala (Moon shape), Kadamba Mala (Kadamba flower design or round ball shape), Kante Mala (Big gold beads design), Mayur Mala (Peacock feather shape) and Champa Mala (Yellow Champa flower shape).

The Sri Chita which denotes the third eye of gods is represented separately for each of the deities. On a Golden plate there are eight precious gems and in the center it is found a pure jewel. Lord Jagannath’s forehead is affixed with a diamond and Goddess Subhadra’s forehead is decorated with an emerald (panna). These forehead ornamentations are removed when the deities are brought out during the Deb Snana Purnima. They are then redecorated when the deities return to the sanctum sanctorum on the day called Chitalagai Amavasya Day which is observed on New-Moon day of the lunar month of Shravana.

The gold ornaments are stored at the temple’s treasury known as Bhitaara Bhandaraghara. According to the “Records of Rights” of the Srimandir the Bhandara (store) has 150 gold articles comprising three necklaces of approximately 1.4 kg each, limbs (hands and feet) of Jagannatha and Balabhadra made in gold of approximately 9 kg and 8 kg. Also recorded are decorative crowns of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra in the order of approximately 7 kg, 5 kg and 3 kg in weight. When the jewellery is brought out for decorating the deities on the chariots, armed policemen accompany it along with a minimum of 25 storekeepers. Except the priests and the servitors, no one else is allowed to remain on the chariots for security reasons.

According to temple history, Suna Bhesha was introduced during the era of King Kapilendradeva in 1460 A.D. When King Kapilendradeva, 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 the gold and diamond to adorn the deities on occasion of Rath Yatra. Since then the deities are decorated with these jewellery after the Bahuda Yatra.

Like last year, this year also devotees are not allowed near the chariots in view of the Supreme Court’s order to contain spread of COVID-19. However, they can watch live telecast of the ritual on television or smartphones and have darshan of the deities.