Mahaprasad at Jagannatha Puri Temple, Part Two


BY: SUN STAFF - 20.6 2019

Puri Dal Mahaprasad

 A three-part summary of Mahaprasad at Jagannath Temple.

In the broad sense, everything that is touched or used by the Deities of Sri Jagannath Temple is considered to be Mahaprasad, not only the foodstuffs. This includes tulsi leaves, bath water of the Deities, called paduka, cloth, and everything else that is used by the Deities. All Mahaprasad is surcharged with spiritual energy – the mercy of the Lord of the Universe.

If someone is sick, Mahaprasad is given for healing. By taking Mahaprasad daily, it is believed that one can avoid suffering from disease in this life. When cured of incurable illnesses, people will feed 7, 21 or 108 poor Brahmins, according to their resources. Mahaprasad is also called nirmalya, meaning 'that which makes one completely pure like a lotus'. Another name for Mahaprasad is kaibalya, or that which gives moksa, or liberation.

The poet Salabega, a famous Muslim devotee of Lord Jagannath, sang of his longing to take Mahaprasad. Mahaprasad is most always thought of by the devotees when they think of Lord Jagannath. In his famous Oriyan bhajan, Salabega wrote:

thaka mana chala jiba

Let us go to Puri,
and on the 22 steps of the temple,
take Mahaprasad to our heart's content!

In order to seal a promise, two friends will be seen holding a clay pot of Mahaprasad between them, eating together from the same pot. This shared pot is called abadha, meaning 'that which cannot be taken away or put into another pot'. The friends will exchange this vow: "You are my Mahaprasad, You are my Abadha." When they see each other in the future, they will address each other as "Abadha" only -- that which cannot be taken away.

During the month of January, Mahaprasad is sometimes referred to as pahili bhoga. Those wishing to take Mahaprasad at this time will say, "Let us take Pahili Bhoga. This special Mahaprasad is taken in memory of the morning bhoga offered to Lord Jagannath during this month. Traditionally, at this time of year wives visit their mother's house for a few days, just as Laksmi Devi goes to Her mother's house, also. The Mothers must feed Jagannath just as Mother Yasoda feeds baby Krishna.

Pahili Bhoga

Pahili Bhoga is typically the first food given to a baby, and may be of two types. One is very tiny balls made of bin dal, while the second is very soft khechedi rice. This prasad cannot be eaten afterwards by devotees, and it must be offered just at dawn. This practice makes seva somewhat more difficult for the sevakas, because all the morning rituals must be completed before dawn, and there is added ritual when Lord Jagannath as baby Krishna eats the special ballaba bhoga.

The atmosphere in Lord Jagannatha's temple kitchen is a remarkable phenomenon. Not only is it the largest temple kitchen in the world, but all manner of inconceivable goings-on take place there. Many cooking servants are required in order to produce the more than 56 items offered to Lord Jagannath each day.

Clay pots are placed in a special earthen oven, five in number, and one on top of another, yet the one on top is cooked first, not last. Another strange phenomenon is that many times pots are broken on the way to the temple, or the food is spoiled in preparation and must be discarded. When this happens, it is understood that the cook was impure in some way. To cook for God, both body and mind must be purified. When engaging in devotional service in the kitchen, the sevaka must tie a cloth over his mouth while food is being carried to the main temple, so that no human saliva can contaminate the bhoga. If one is feeling proud that he has made a good preparation, it is said that his pot is sure to be broken.

It is also understood that if Mother Laksmi is displeased with a cook's preparation, a dog will appear mysteriously on the temple grounds, usually as food is being carried to the Deities. Of course, no dog is allowed to enter the temple. If the dog – known as kutama chandi, a Tantric goddess in charge of purification of food – is seen in the temple compound, then all the food preparations must be buried and prepared again, fresh.

Following are the 56 chapana bhoga, the main preparations offered to Lord Jagannath each day, then distributed as Mahaprasad:



SWEETS (usually deep-fried as small balls)




1. Sadha Anna - simple rice water 
2. Ghee Anna - rice mixed with ghee
3. Kanika - rice, ghee, and sugar
4. Khechedi - rice mixed with lentils
5. Dahi Pakhal – curd, rice and water
6. Mitha Pakhal - rice and sugar water
7. Ada Pakhal - rice, ginger and water, mixed
8. Oriya Pakhal - rice, ghee, lemon and salt
9. Thali Khechedi - lentil rice with sugar and ghee

10. Khaja - wheat
11. Gaja - wheat and sugar
12. Ladu - wheat, sugar and ghee
13. Magaja Ladu
14. Ladu
15. Jagannath Ballava - wheat, sugar and ghee, with a black color
16. Khuruma - wheat, ghee, and salt
17. Mathapuli - ghee, ginger, and a kind of bean ground into a thick paste
18. Kakara - ghee and wheat
19. Marichi Ladu - wheat and sugar
20. Luni Khuruma - f wheat, ghee and salt

21. Suar Pitha - wheat and ghee
22. Chadi Lada - wheat, ghee and sugar
23. Jilli - rice flour, ghee and sugar
24, Kanti - rice flour and ghee
25. Manda - wheat and ghee
26. Amalu - wheat, ghee and sugar
27. Puri - wheat and ghee, deep-fried like a thin pancake
28. Luchi - rice flour and ghee
29. Bara - curd, ghee and a kind of bean
30. Dahi Bara - bean and curd cake 
31. Arisa - a flat cake of rice flour and ghee
32. Tripuri - another flat cake of rice flour and ghee
33. Rosapaik - cake of wheat and ghee

34. Khiri - milk and sugar with rice
35. Papudi - prepared only from cream 
36. Khua – made of pure milk, slowly boiled over many hours to a soft custard-like consistency
37. Rasabali - milk, sugar and wheat
38. Tadia - fresh cheese, sugar and ghee
39. Chhena Khai - fresh cheese, milk and sugar
40. Papudi Kahaja - cream of milk, sugar, and ghee
41. Khua Manda - milk, wheat and ghee
42. Sarapulli - this is the most famous and most difficult milk dish to prepare. It is made of pure milk, boiled slowly for hours, and spread into a large round pan in thin sheets. Only a few temple cooks today know the art of making this preparation.

43. Dal
44. Biri dal
45. Urid dal
46. Muga dal (the above three preparations are types of lentil dal) 
47. Dalama - dal and vegetables, usually eggplant, bean and sweet potato with coconut and a dried root vegetable known as bodhi, which looks like a mushroom and is high in protein
48. Mahur - mixed vegetable curry
49. Besar - mixed vegetable curry with black mustard seeds 
50. Saga - spinach sabji
51. Potala Rasa – vegetable and potato with coconut milk
52. Goti Baigana - small eggplants with a shredded coconut sauce
53. Khata - a sour side dish of cooked mango or apple, mango and grape cooked together
54. Raita - a yogurt dish with cucumber and radish
55. Pitta - fried flowers of the Neem tree
56. Baigana - fried eggplant


This menu of preparations is offered to Lord Jagannath in His Puri abode each day.