The Picnic Dress of Shri Jagannath

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BY: SUN STAFF - 15.3 2022

Banabhoji Besha (Picnic Lila)

By Mahimohan Tripathy, Orissan Review, May 2013.

The rituals observed in the Puri Shri Jagannath Temple may be classified under three heads:

a) the daily rituals,
b) the special or periodical rituals,
c) the festive rituals (festivals).

The festive rituals include the birthday (Janmastami of Shrikrishna, which is celebrated on the 8th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba (August-September). On the next day, Nandotchava is celebrated. Thereafter for some days certain Leelas (divine sports) of Lord Krishna, like Banabhoji, Kolibika, Bakaasura and Arghaasura badha are celebrated. On the 13th day of this dark fortnight, Shri Jagannath and Shri Balabhadra dress like Shrikrishna and Balaram.

The Banabhoji Besha (picnic dress) of the Deities, Jagannath and Balabhadra is done on the 10th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba. The Deities dress like cowherd boys going for a picnic. They hold sara (milk cream) in a silver pingana (a pot) placed in a hanging rope shelf in one hand and a naudi (stick/staff) in the other hand.

One striking feature of this besha is that the Deities are adorned with chains of pedas (a sweetmeat made from milk and sugar). In this dress of the Deities, the evening puja (food offering) is done in the temple.

The Banabhoji Besha was introduced during the reign of King Prataprudra Dev of the Surya dynasty in Odisha during the 16th Century A.D. By some other opinions, it was started during the reign of King Kamarnava Deva (1147-1156 A.D.) of the Ganga dynasty.

On the same day of the Banabhoji Besha, three other Leelas of Shrikrishna are celebrated in the temple; those are Kolibika (sale of berries), and killing of the demons, Bakaasura and Arghaasura.