Puri: Over a lakh of devotees thronged pilgrim city Puri in Odisha to have glimpse of Chaturdha Murti (Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra along with Sudarshan) in Gajanan Besha (elephant attire) on Snana Mandap (bathing pandal) at Jagannath temple here today.
After having holy shower on the Snana Mandap, situated near Ananda Bazar inside temple premises, in the afternoon, the deities were dressed like Ganesha, who bears head of an elephant. The elephant costume is known as ‘Gaja or Hati Besha’. While Lord Jagannath and Balabhadra were dressed like elephant, their sibling Devi Subhadra gave the darshan in lotus flower besha.
Prior to dressing the lords in Gaja Besha, the rituals were conducted after Jalabhiseka (bathing ceremony).The servitors decorated the deities with flowers and Tulasi (holy basil). King Gajapati Dibya Singh Deb, the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, visited the Snana Mandap from his palace in Tanzan to pay obeisance to deities. He performed chhera pahanra (sweeping of the floor) at the pandal, one of the major rituals ahead of Gaja Besha, with the priests chanting mantras.
The deities were dressed in elephant attire, the costumes prepared by the artisans at Raghaba Das mutt and Gopal Tirtha mutt for Gaja Besha ritual on Snana Purnima. The Gajanan Besha of Lords were completed at around 5.20 pm.
There is a story behind Gaja or Hati Besha of Lord Jagannath. According to researchers, the Lord of Universe had given darshan to Ganapati Bhatt, a staunch devotee of lord Ganesha, on the Snana Mandap on the auspicious occasion of Snana Purnima. In 15th century, Pandit Ganapati Bhatt of Mahaganapatya community had visited the century old shrine in Puri to have darshan of Lord Jagannath. He witnessed Chaturdha Murti on Snana Mandap on Snana Purnima. However, he could not get satisfaction as he wanted to see his lord within Lord Jagannath. While he was on his way back with disappointment, Lord Jagannath disguised as a priest insisted him to return the temple where he can see his Lord Ganesha. He was overwhelmed to have darshan of his Lord Ganesha within Chaturdha Murti on Snana Mandap. Since that period, the deities are being dressed in Gajanan Besha every year followed by holy bathing on Jyestha Purnima.