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Hati Besha – Elephant Appearance of Jagannath – Balabhadra – Subhadra – Gajanana Besa

Following their ceremonial bath on the Snana Purnima, Jagannath – Balabhadra – Subhadra appear in elephant attires. This elephant appearance is known as Hati Besha or Gajanana Besa. The ritual happens on the afternoon day on the full moon day in Jyeshta month (June – July).

After the ceremonial end of all rituals associated with Snana Purnima or Snana Yatra, messengers from the Srimandira go to Gopala Teertha Matha and Raghaba Dasa Matha to carry the components of Hathi Besha – the elephant attire of the deities.

The attire is ceremonially carried to the Snana Bedi or Snana Mandapa located in the outer courtyard of the Puri Jagannath Temple complex behind the Meghanda Prachira on the northeastern side.

The attire is traditionally put on the deities and they appear in the elephant form – Hathi Besha.

The Story of Hathi Besha - Gajanana Besa of Jagannath

Ganesha was the personal deity of Ganapati Bhatta, a Maharashtrian devotee. He was also an ardent devotee of Puri Jagannatha. He had an intense desire to see Puri Jagannath in the avatar of Ganesha.

Ganapati Bhatta was unable to have darshan of Jagannath in elephant form as then no such ritual existed in the Puri Temple.

After praying in the Srimandira, Ganapati Bhatta decided to return to his home. But that night he had a dream in which the deities promised him that they will appear in the form elephant or Hathi.

Miraculously on the next day, Ganapati Bhatta had the darshan of Jagannath in Hathi Besha in the Srimandira.

To commemorate this divine event, the deities appear in the elephant form after the Snana Purnima ritual.

After the deities are decorated with elephant attire, food offerings and pujas are performed.

The elephant attire is removed in the evening before the deities return inside the Srimandira.

Each year specially designated artisans create Hathi Besha. The dress is noted for two white tusks, trunk, and the zari work.

Today, the miniature attire of Hati Besha is available for sale. Devotees collect it and for devotees of Jagannath and Ganesha, it is a prized possession.

Thi rituals takes place 15 to 17 days before the world famous Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra.