The word Jagannath is made up of two words Jaga which means Universe and Nath means Lord that is ‘Lord of Universe’. In fact, the Lord Jagannath is considered as one of the reincarnations of avatars of Lord Vishnu.
The Rath Yatra is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Goddess Subhadra. The Rath Yatra celebrates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple (Aunt’s House).
Jagannath Rath Yatra is celebrated by millions of devotees that come from across the world to seek the blessings of God’s and fulfil their wishes. The atmosphere at the time of Rath Yatra is so pure and beautiful. Devotees with the chariots keep singing songs, mantras with the sound of drum beatings. Jagannath Rath Yatra is also famous as Gundicha Yatra/Chariot Festival/Ghosa Yatra.
Three heavily-built wooden chariots of Lord Jagannath named as Nandighosh, Lord Balabhadra named as Taladhwaja, and Devi Subhadra named as Darpadalana are traditionally pulled by thousands of devotees over a distance of three kilometres twice during the nine-day festival of the Trinity at Puri dham , Odisha.
Quarantine period of Lords
It is believed that Lord Jagannath contracts common cold and fever. Hence, he isolates himself for fourteen days, and this practice is called Anasar. During this period, the devotees can’t take his darshan. And the quarantine is strictly followed because the deity is taken to the Anasara Ghara or the isolation ward.
At a time when there’s a nationwide lockdown, every citizen would be expected to exercise restraint to overcome COVID-19, which has now turned into a global pandemic. It is certainly not going to be a cakewalk. However, to save precious lives, citizens have to adhere to the government advisory. And during such an hour of crisis, one can follow in the footsteps of Lord Krishna, who is quarantined for fourteen days every year. Yes, you read that right. Lord Jagannath of the world-famous Puri temple, falls sick ahead of the annual rath yatra and is isolated for fourteen days.
Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra are given ritual bathing with water from a pitcher (Kalash) over 108 times on the occasion of Snana Purnima. And since the bathing is done with cold water, the Gods and the Goddess fall sick.
After the deities are taken to the Anasara Ghara, a nutritious but dry meal is served which is devoid of the ingredients used for the regular Chhappan Bhog. They are also given an ayurvedic treatment with oil called Phuluri (also spelt as Phooloori) by the Daitapatis (priests), and the period of quarantine is called Anbasara.
And once the deities recover from their illness, they are served solid food or Khichuri(porridge). And the first darshan after Anasar is called Nava Yovan(a day prior to rath yatra).
We can take inspiration from the Lord and his siblings and cooperate with the government to ensure that we stop the spread of the deadly corona virus and uproot it completely. If the Lord can remain confined for fourteen days, we too can. This is the only way we can stop this deadly disease from claiming more lives. So stay home, stay safe, save the country and save humanity.