Deva Snana Purnima: An exemplar of syncretism in India

Odisha got soaked in the air of mysticism as it celebrated the most sacred festival of Lord Jagannath's Snana Yatra or Deva Snana Poornima. Observed on the full moon day in the month of Jayestha, the festival is one of the biggest examples of communal harmony as people cutting across religious lines come to be a part of this festival. Though the biggest celebration takes places at Srimandir in Puri city of Odisha, but the same enthusiasm is witnessed across the temples in Bhubaneswar as well, where devotees can be seen singing hymns in praise of Lord Jagannath and performing the religious rituals. The ritual is celebrated prior to the world renowned Rath Yatra of the Jagannath Temple and it's only during this time in a year that non-Hindus as well as foreigners get the opportunity to see the idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra. On the holy day of Devasnana Poornima, the idols are escorted out of the Ratnasimhasan from the sanctum sanctorum of the Puri Jagannath temple and are bought to Snan Bedi early in the morning. Then the procession called "Pahandi" is observed in which deities are bathed with 108 pitchers of herbal and aromatic water that is taken from the well, present inside the Jagannath Temple after bathing the deities are dressed up in "Gajanana Vesha". A per the Skanda Purana, Raja Indrayumma set this bathing ceremony when he installed the wooden deities in the temple. And even till today, this ceremony has maintained its charm and is also conducted at several temples in Bhubaneswar apart from Puri. It is believed that a devotee washes away all his sins if he gets the vision of the lord on this day of Deva Snana Poornima and thus the festival sees a huge conglomeration of pilgrims belonging to different religions and communities.