The Hindu tradition and astrological science comprises numerous festivals
and rituals that are extremely important to its practitioners. One of these special occasions is Snana Yatra, also known as the Bathing Festival. Across India, and especially in Orissa
, this sacred event is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion.
Snana Yatra is a unique festival that involves the ceremonial bath of the deities, symbolizing purification, rejuvenation, and the onset of the monsoon season. In this article, we will delve into the date and day of Snana Yatra in 2023
, explore the importance of this festival in astrology, delve into the story behind Snana Yatra, and discuss the rituals to be followed during this auspicious occasion.
Date and Day of Snana Yatra 2023
In the year 2023, Snana Yatra is scheduled to take place on June 4th, which falls on a Sunday. This date holds immense astrological significance and is considered highly auspicious for undertaking rituals and seeking divine blessings. Devotees eagerly await this day to participate in the festivities and offer their prayers.
Importance of Snana Yatra in Astrology
Snana Yatra holds immense importance in astrology as it is believed to mark the transition of the deities from their regular abode in the sanctum sanctorum to the Snana Mandap, a specially decorated bathing altar. This ceremonial bath is believed to purify the deities and bestow blessings upon the devotees. Astrologically, this festival signifies the arrival of the monsoon season, which brings relief from the scorching heat and rejuvenates the land, symbolizing the cycle of life, growth, and prosperity.
Story Behind Snana Yatra
Snana Yatra, also known as the Bathing Festival, is a significant event in the Hindu tradition that holds immense importance for devotees, particularly in the holy city of Puri in Odisha, India. This festival takes place on the full-moon day, sixteen days before the renowned Ratha-yatra festival
. During Snana Yatra, Lord Jagannath, along with his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, undergoes a ceremonial bath, marking the beginning of a fourteen-day period of rest and special care before the Ratha-yatra procession.
The origins of Snana Yatra can be traced back to the Skanda Purana, which narrates the story of King Indradyumna, the ruler who installed the wooden deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra. It is believed that the king organized the bathing ceremony as part of the deity installation rituals. This auspicious day, falling on the full-moon day of the month of Jyestha, is considered the appearance day of Lord Jagannath and is celebrated with great fervor in Puri
and other important Jagannath temples across the country.
While Snana Yatra does not find mention in early religious texts, it is believed to have tribal origins. In the early form of Lord Jagannath worship, he was known as Nilamadhava and was adored by a Savara chief named Viswabasu. This tribal connection is still evident in the exclusive rights granted to the Daitas and Savars, the tribal communities, to conduct the festival. Even today, the Saoras, a tribal group from southern Odisha, perform a similar bathing ritual for their deities on the last day of the month of Jyestha, collecting water from untouched jungles.
The rituals of Snana Yatra are elaborate and captivating. On the day preceding the festival, the images of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Sudarshana are taken in a ceremonial procession from the sanctum to the Snana Mandap, a specially decorated bathing pandal. This pandal is strategically elevated to allow devotees outside the temple to catch a glimpse of the deities.
The bathing ceremony begins on the fourteenth day, known as Chaturdashi, with the grand Pahandi procession. The deities are taken in a majestic procession accompanied by music, chants, and the beating of traditional drums. The Suaras and Mahasuaras, a community of temple servitors, collect water from the Suna Kua (Golden well) in copper and gold vessels. The water is then purified with various auspicious substances like turmeric, rice, sandalwood, flowers, perfumes, and medicinal herbs.
The actual bathing ritual, known as Jaladhibasa, takes place in the morning hours of the Purnima tithi. The filled vessels are carried in a single-file procession from the Bhoga Mandap to the Snana Vedi, where the deities are placed. Vedic mantras, kirtanas, and the blowing of conch shells accompany the pouring of the holy water on the deities. It should be noted that due to the natural mineral paints used on the deity forms, the colors may fade during the bathing process.
After the bathing ceremony, the deities are kept away from public view for fifteen days in a secluded area called the Ratan vedi, known as the “sick room.” During this period, called Anabasara kala, the daily temple rituals are suspended. The Daitas, descendants of Viswavasu, undertake the task of repainting and restoring the deities’ forms and decorations. This meticulous process spans fourteen days, with each day dedicated to specific activities, culminating in the final day when the deities re-emerge in their newly renovated forms.
The fifteenth day marks the Netrotsava or Nava Yauvanotsava, the festival of the first appearance of the deities after their rest. Devotees consider it extremely auspicious to have a vision of the Lord on this day, as it is believed to wash away all sins. The temple witnesses a massive influx of devotees eager to receive the darshan of the rejuvenated Lord Jagannath.
Rituals to Follow
Snana Yatra involves a series of rituals and observances that devotees follow with utmost devotion. Here are the key rituals associated with this auspicious occasion:
Before the ceremonial bath, the deities are brought to the Snana Mandap. The temple servitors, representing Lord Jagannath, enact the Chhera Pahanra ritual. They clean the bathing altar, sprinkle sandalwood-scented water, and sweep the area with a golden broom. This act symbolizes the humility and service towards the divine.
In the Pahandi ritual, the deities are carried in a procession from the main temple to the Snana Mandap. This is a grand spectacle accompanied by music, chants, and devotees’ enthusiasm.
The deities are then bathed with 108 pitchers of sacred water, which is poured by priests while chanting mantras. The water is mixed with various auspicious substances like sandalwood paste, rose water, milk, and honey. This ritual signifies the purification and rejuvenation of the deities.
After the bath, the deities are adorned with the Hati Vesha or elephant attire. They are dressed in resplendent garments and decorated with intricate jewelry. This unique attire symbolizes majesty and grandeur.
After the bath and dressing rituals, the deities are carried back to the sanctum sanctorum in a grand procession, known as the Chhera Panhara. This signifies the conclusion of the Snana Yatra and the deities’ return to their regular abode.
Snana Yatra is a festival that holds immense astrological and spiritual significance. The ceremonial bath of the deities during this festival symbolizes purification, rejuvenation, and the arrival of the monsoon season. Devotees eagerly await this auspicious occasion to witness and participate in the rituals associated with Snana Yatra. It is believed that observing these rituals with utmost devotion can bring blessings, prosperity, and spiritual upliftment. As we celebrate Snana Yatra in 2023, let us embrace the symbolism and essence of this sacred festival and seek divine grace and blessings for a fulfilling and prosperous life.