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Vesa of Jagannath Temple Dieties

Vesa of Jagannath Temple Dieties

In the Oriya as well as Sanskrit language, the word ‘vesa’ or ‘bhesa’ connotes ‘dress’. In the Hindu tradition, it is considered auspicious to dress the Jagannath Temple deities daily and offered with bhog. Also, during special festivals and celebrations, the deities are dressed and ornated with beautiful attires and jewels. Similarly, the deities of Jagannath Puri are also dressed and decorated in traditional ways by specific particular persons belonging to the temple services. Items like flowers, silk fabrics, gold ornaments, musk, sandalwood paste, camphor are used accordingly.

Vesas or Bhesas of Jagannath Temple Dieties

Haathi Bhesa

In Snana Yatra, Lord Jagannath is dressed like Lord Ganesa, who bears the head of an elephant (Haathi).

Chandan Bhesa

The word ‘Chandan’ refers to sandal wood which is the fragrant paste applied to the deities in the months of Vaisakha and Jyestha on the occasion of 42-day long Chandan Yatra.

Nava Youvana Bhesa

During the eve of Rath Yatra, these deities which were unseen for 15 days after the Snana Yatra are adorned with beautiful robes of that make them look like the deities in the prime of their youth (Youvana).

Suna Bhesa

When the deities are brought back to the main gate of the temple in the month of Asadha and are still in their respective chariots, they are decorated with golden ornaments. This beautification is known as Suna Bhesa.

Chitalagi Bhesa

The three deities are adorned with three magnificent chitas (ornaments of the forehead) which are made of gold, diamond, sapphire and emerald on the eve of Amavasya in the month of Sravana. Rahu Rekha, which is an ornament of the head, is removed from the head of the deities on the day of Snana Purnima and is again put in the month of Sravana.

Vana Bhoji Bhesa

Since Lord Jagannath is considered to be a reincarnation of Lord Krishna, the incidents that affected Lord Sri Krishna are associated with the deity as well. Just as Lord Krishna was decorated by his friends with creepers, leaves and flowers, so is Lord Jagannath.

Kaliyadalana Bhesa

To commemorate the incident when Lord Krishna slayed the demon snake Kaliya on the banks of Yamuna, the deity is dressed as per the occasion in the month of Bhadra.

Pralambasura Vadha Bhesa

A demon called Pralamba was killed by Balarama, the elder brother of Krisna. So the idol of Balabhadra wears this Bhesa in the month of Bhadra.

Krishna Balarama Bhesa

In this bhesa, the idols of Krishna and Balabhadra are decorated to the likeness of Lord Krishna and Balarama in the auspicious month of Bhadra.

Vamana Bhesa

Commemorating the tale when Lord Vishnu killed he demon king Bali in his fifth avatar of Vamana, the idol of Lord Jagannath is dressed as Lord Vishnu.

Raja Bhesa

Jagannatha was regarded as the king of Odisha since the rule of Ganga dynasty and this Bhesa of Jagannatha continues from those days four times in a year. This bhesa denotes the dress of a sovereign king.

Radha Damodara Bhesa

This Bhesa takes place in the months of Asvina and Kartika. Radha is the female counter- part of Krishna. This Bhesa, therefore, highlights the great religious integration that took place in the Jagannatha temple with regard to the episodes of Radha and Krisna.

Harihara Bhesa

In this Bhesa, 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.

Laksminarayana Bhesa

The worship of Laksminarayana has gained popularity in Jagannathism, since the visit of Ramanuja, the great religious preacher to the city of Puri.

Laksminrsimha Bhesa

The very name of the dress indicates how the powerful cult of Nrsimha was given due recognition in Puri temple.

Nagarjuna Bhesa

In this bhesa, Lord Jagannath is dressed like Nagarjuna (a military general) in the month of Kartika. This Bhesa is also known as the Parasurama Bhesa.

Sraadha Bhesa

In Hinduism, Sraadha is an offering made to the departed ancestors and forefathers. In the month of Margasira, Lord Jagannatha performs the Sraddha in favor of Nanda, Vasudeva and Dasaratha as Lord Krishna and Lord Rama respectively.

Padma Bhesa

Jagannatha is dressed in Padmas (lotus flowers), which appear abundantly on the earth in the month of Magha.

Gajoddharana Bhesa

According to a folk tale in Puranas, when an elephant was talked by an alligator, he asked for Lord Vishnu for help. Out of mercy, Lord Vishnu slayed the alligator. Lord Jagannatha who is identified with Vishnu wears this Bhesa to inspire a sense of devotion to the grace of the god.

Chacheri Bhesa

According to an age old social tradition that is widespread all over India, people play with colored, powder and throw this powder over the friends and relatives. Jagannatha is the best representative of the people and he is also shown as sharing the experiences of the people by being smeared in red color.

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