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Nagarjuna Besha In Puri Jagannath Temple

In Puri Jagannath Temple, Bhagavan Shri Jagannath along with Balabhadra and Subhadra adorn different ‘beshas’ (dresses or forms) at different times of the year. The Nagarjuna Besha is unique since it occurs once in several years.

In Nagarjuna Besha, Bhagavan Jagannath and Bhagavan Balabhadra take on the form of warriors.

Nagarjuna Besha commemorates the killing of Sahasrarjun by Parashurama.

When Is Nagarjuna Besha Observed?

It is observed in those years where the ‘panchaka’, the last five days of the holy month of Kartika, is observed for six days. It means that instead of five there will six tithis starting from Ekadashi to Purnima in Kartik month.

The besha is observed on the day on extra tithi or the extra day during the Panchaka.

A servitor-cum-artisan of Puri Jagannath temple is assigned the task of preparing the Nagarjuna costumes of Jagannath and Balabhadra. The servitor begin the work following the ‘besha anukula puja’.

Thermocol, cloth, zari and bamboo sticks were used to prepare the costumes. Around 10 other artisans are engaged to assist main servitor. They prepare various weapons, including knives and shields, for the deities. Deities have an elaborate headgear and hold arrows, bows, plough, wheel and mace. The costumes reach the temple office in a procession from the workplace.

On the Nagarjuna Besha day temples doors opens at 2:45 AM and the Besha was brought in a procession by servitors with musicians playing gongs, cymbals and traditional drums.

In the sanctum sanctorum, priests perform the Mangal Arati followed by Mailam, Tadapalagi and Abakash. Thereafter, Gopal Bhog is offered. The servitors start o deck up the deities in Nagarjuna besha at 4.45 AM. Simhari and Puspalak servitors begin dressing the deities simultaneously and after four hours, the process is completed. Apart from the Besha prepared by servitors, gold and other ornaments are used from the temple treasury.

Devotees have the darshan of the main deities in the Nagarjuna Besha throughout the day.

Nagarjuna Besha rituals are also observed in Jagannath temples in Odisha including at the Sabar Srikshetra, Koraput.