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Radha – Damodar Besha In Ashwin – Kartik Month In Puri Jagannath Temple

The auspicious Radha Damodar Besha (dress or clothes) of the deities in Puri Jagannath Temple is held every year from the 11th day of bright fortnight of Aswina month to the 10th day of bright fortnight of Kartik.

Legend has it that Akrura, on his way to Mathura, had witnessed the Radha Damodar Besha while taking bath in the Yamuna River. It is noteworthy that this attractive Besha is being performed during the entire period holy Kartik month.

In Radha Damodar Besha, Lord Shree Jagannath and Lord Shree Balabhadra put on Trikachha. They also hold a pair of golden Nalibhuja in their hands. The Chula made out of bamboo and cloths is placed on the Trimundi and the Chandrika placed in the Chula looks very attractive. The deities also put on different types of golden ornaments such as ear rings, Odiani on their waist and Tadaki, Chandra, Surya, Chita etc. on their heads. They also put on ornaments made up of flowers and different types of clothes such as ‘Pata’, ‘Phuta’, ‘Srikapada’, ‘Paharana’, ‘Adharabala’, and ‘Uttaria’ etc.

This auspicious Radha-Damodar Besha on the Ratna Simhasana looks really splendid, for the deities put on different types of ‘Pata’ (silken clothes) and golden ornaments. Previously only ‘Ballav’, ‘Sakala Dhupa’ was held during this Besha. In subsequent period another Bhoga namely ‘Baladhupa’ was added to this Besha.

The offering of lamp (deepa) and Avakasha rituals are held at the dawn and then Gopal Ballav bhoga is offered to the deities just after the Radha Damodar Besha. Then the Sakal Dhupa (morning bhoga) is offered to the deities and after that sprinkling of water is done. The items for Baladhupa are arranged by the Sevakas concerned and are offered to the Deities. Lamp offering is also made after the Bala Dhupa.

Harihara Besha

During the time period of Radha Damodar Besha of Shree Jagannatha on each Monday, Harihara Besha of Lord Shree Balabhadra is done for a fortnight, i.e. from the new moon day till the full moon day. In this Besha, half of the body of Balabhadra looks blackish while the other half looks whitish, which connotes that one half of His body is Vishnu and the other half is Shiva (Hara).

Thousands of devotees and all those devotees who observe Kartik Vrata arrive in the temple to witness to the highly auspicious and meritorious Radha – Damodar Besha.

Late Sadasiva Ratha Sharma, an eminent research scholar of Shri Mandir has mentioned in his book “Sri Jagannath Besha Rahasya” that this Besha was introduced in the 12th century CE. Others point out that this Besha was introduced in Sri Mandir in 16th century, after the arrival of Sri Chaitanya in Puri.

According to Sri Chaitanya, Shree Jagannath is a composite figure of Shree Radha and Shree Krishna. This spirit has been revealed in Radha Damodar Besha. In the opinion of many research scholars, the nitis and beshas based on the performance of Sri Krishna were introduced in Sri Mandir by Gajapati Purusottam Dev.