Monday 8 July 2019

Hera Panchami - Goddess Lakshmi Expresses Her Anger

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Ratha Jatra is celebrated every year on Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashadha month). This grand festival that began in the Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha, is now very famous and celebrated all over the world. But, many are yet to be aware of the celebration of the days following the pulling of the chariots to Gundicha Temple on Ratha Jatra.

On Ratha Jatra, Lord Jagannath leaves the Shree Jagannath Temple and goes for a nine-day-sojourn with His siblings, Lord Balabhadra & Devi Subhadra, to their birth place at Gundicha temple, located 2.8 kms away. Lord Jagannath does not take His wife, Goddess Lakshmi along with Him when He goes with His brother and sister for the Ratha Jatra.
Text by Dash Benhur; Art by Tapan Moharana
The Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri is known as the “Srimandira”. “Sri” means Lakshmi, and the Temple’s name Srimandira signifies the fact that Goddess Lakshmi is the principal Goddess of the Shree Jagannath Temple.
As Ratha Jatra separates Goddess Lakshmi from Lord Jagannath, She awaits His return to the Srimandira.
Missing the Lord, She goes to see Him on the fifth day of the Ratha Jatra. This day is called Hera Panchami

Hera Panchami is a unique ritual associated with the Ratha Jatra car festival of Puri. 
‘Hera’ means to ‘see’ and ‘Panchami’ means the ‘fifth day’. Hera Panchami ritual is performed on the Ashadha Shukla Shashthi tithi. It has references in Bamadeba Samhita and Jatra Bhagabata.

As four nights pass and Goddess Lakshmi wants Her Husband to come back, being concerned, She takes the advice of Goddess Bimala. Goddess Bimala gives Goddess Lakshmi ‘Mohana Churna’ (a powder with hypnotic qualities to attract husband) for Lord Jagannath’s early return to Srimandira.
Goddess Lakshmi decides to visit Lord Jagannath in Gundicha temple where He is there with His brother & sister. She gets ready for her visit with karpura-chandana-mohana-churna to ensure Lord Jagannath returns soon.

In the evening, the representative idol of Goddess Lakshmi (a golden idol of Goddess Sridebi representing Goddess Lakshmi) is carried to the Gundicha temple in a bimana (decorated palanquin) with great pomp and show in a procession via Bada Danda (the Grand Road) of Puri. Her bimana is carried by Bimanabadu Sebakas (servitors) on their shoulders. The procession includes colourful Pipli Applique Work umbrellas, fans etc. and other items used in the temple processions. Earlier, the debadasis used to accompany and sing the Hera Panchami song, expressing Goddess Lakshmi's anger. Now, traditional bugle lends the music.

After reaching the Gundicha temple, the procession makes a halt near the Nandighosha Ratha, the chariot of Lord Jagannath.
There, Goddess Lakshmi is welcomed with ceremonial ‘bandapana’ (puja) and offerings by the Pati Mahapatra sebaka.

Goddess Lakshmi enters the Gundicha temple during sandhya dhupa (offering of bhoga). Near the Jaya Bijaya Dwara of the Gundicha temple, She uses the ‘Mohana Churna’ (given by Goddess Bimala).
On behalf of Lord Jagannath, the Pati Mahapatra sebaka offers an ‘Agyan Mala’ (a garland of consent) to Goddess Lakshmi. He takes a garland from Lord Jagannath’s idol and places it on Goddess Lakshmi’s idol giving the message that the Lord will return soon.

For the sandhya dhupa ceremony, a strip of cloth called ‘tera’ is tied outside the deities, veiling their faces from sight. Due to evening rituals of the deities, the door is closed. Goddess Lakshmi feels neglected and angry.

She comes out of the Gundicha temple through the Naka Chana Dwara where Bhitarachha Mahapatra sebaka performs ‘bandapana’ and worships Her by offering curd and other offerings. Outside the Gundicha temple, She again comes in front of Lord Jagannath’s chariot that is parked there.

Being jealous and angry of Her husband’s enjoyment with His siblings, and to teach Him a lesson for ignoring Her, She asks Her servitors to break a part of the Nandighosha Ratha. A small part is symbolically broken and a little damage is caused to the chariot of Lord Jagannath to demonstrate Goddess Lakshmi’s ire on the Lord.

As the Goddess feels guilty of breaking a part of Nandighosha, She returns to Srimandira without any procession and fanfare. She takes a different and secret route via a lane called the Hera Gouri Sahi of Puri. This ritual is witnessed by a large number of devotees.

As per some scholars, ‘Ratha Chakada’ pothi/scripture states that such ceremonial Hera Panchami ritual celebration was introduced by the King Kapilendra Deb, who introduced a golden idol of Goddess Sridebi representing Goddess Lakshmi. Earlier, Hera Panchami ritual was being observed in a symbolic manner with chanting of mantras.
Text by Dash Benhur; Art by Tapan Moharana
On the day after the Hera Panchami ritual, all the three chariots are turned to face the South, thereby getting prepared for the return journey. After their 9-days outing, Bahuda Jatra marks the return of the deities to the Temple. After the Suna Besha and Adhara Pana, the concluding day of the Ratha Jatra is Niladri Bije when the deities enter the Srimandira. Goddess Lakshmi, who is still sulking and angry, does not open the gate of the Srimandira for Lord Jagannath. On Niladri Bije, Lord Jagannath offers Rasagola as a sweet present to Goddess Lakshmi to earn Her favour and to regain entry.

These continuing traditions and centuries-old rituals of Srimandira show that even the Lord of the Universe has to be the target of His wife's anger- angry Goddess Lakshmi on Hera Panchami!

-       Hera Panchami is on July 8 this year (2019). Niladri Bije i.e. #RasagolaDibasa is on July 15th.
     Did you know about this Hera Panchami ritual of Ratha Jatra?


  1. Very informative post 👍 Thanks for sharing 🙂 Anita

  2. Great to read.
    Greetings _()_

  3. An interesting post probing the story behind the rituals of Hera Panchamai and Niladri Bije.
    Jai Jagannath.

  4. Wow thanks for sharing this. Very simple and informative.

  5. Thanks for sharing , great article 🙏🙏


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