Gundicha Temple: The Aunt’s House of Lord Jagannath

Gundicha Temple- The Aunt’s House of Lord Jagannath

Gundicha Temple (Odia: ଗୁଣ୍ଡିଚା ମନ୍ଦିର) is a Hindu temple located in the town of Puri in Odisha, India. It is famous for being the destination of the annual Ratha Jatra, the chariot festival of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra. This is also called Janmabedi (ଜନ୍ମବେଦୀ) of Lord Jagannath.

The History of Gundicha Temple

The temple is named after Queen Gundicha, the wife of King Indradyumna, who built the main temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri. According to legend, Queen Gundicha was so impressed by the wooden idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra that she requested her husband to build another temple for them, where they could visit once a year. The king agreed and constructed the Gundicha Temple at the other end of the Bada Danda (Grand Road), which connects the two temples.

Another legend says that Gundicha was the foster mother of Lord Jagannath, who raised him with love and care. She was very fond of him and wanted him to visit her house every year. Lord Jagannath agreed and promised to come to her house with his brother and sister during the Rath Yatra.

The Architecture of Gundicha Temple

The temple is built in the Kalinga style of architecture, with four main structures: Vimana (sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall), Natamandapa (festival hall), and Bhogamandapa (offering hall). There is also a kitchen connected by a passage. The temple is made of light-grey sandstone and has a simple and elegant appearance.

The sanctum houses a raised platform made of chlorite called Adapa Mandap, where the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra stay during their visit to the temple. The sanctum also has a small window called Nakachana Dwara (eye window), through which devotees can have a glimpse of the deities.

Adapa Abadha is a special name given to the Mahaprasad offered to Lord Jagannath during their stay at the Gundicha Temple. It is prepared by the servitors of Suara and Mahasuara Nijog (cooking groups) in the temple kitchen after the morning rituals. 

Adapa Abadha consists of various dishes made of rice, dal, vegetables, and sweets. It is believed that consuming Adapa Abadha after having the darshan of the deities on the Adapa Mandap bestows one with the virtues of crores of births. Thousands of devotees savour Adapa Abadha every day during the seven-day period of Rath Yatra festival.

The temple has two gates: the western gate and the eastern gate. The western gate is the main gate, through which the deities enter the temple during Ratha Yatra. The eastern gate is used for their departure.

The Ratha Jatra Festival

The Ratha Jatra festival is celebrated every year in the month of Ashadha (June-July) to commemorate the visit of Lord Jagannath and his siblings to their aunt’s house. The festival begins with the ceremonial procession of the deities from their main temple to their chariots on the Bada Danda. The chariots are named Nandighosha (for Lord Jagannath), Taladhwaja (for Lord Balabhadra), and Darpadalana (for Devi Subhadra). They are pulled by thousands of devotees who consider it a great privilege and blessing.

A devotee praying in front of three Chariots in 2022 Ratha Jatra
Government of Odisha, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The deities reach the Gundicha Temple after a few hours and are welcomed by their aunt with love and affection. They stay there for seven days and enjoy various delicacies prepared by her. They also perform various rituals and ceremonies at the temple.

On the ninth day, they return to their main temple, Srimandira in a similar manner. This is called Bahuda Jatra (return journey). On their way back, they stop at the Mausima Temple (aunt’s temple), where they are offered Poda Pitha. They also adorn themselves with gold ornaments on their chariots on this day. This is called Suna Besha (golden attire).

The Ratha Yatra festival is a grand spectacle that attracts millions of devotees and tourists from all over the world. It is a festival that celebrates the love and bond between Lord Jagannath and his devotees, as well as his family members. It is a festival that showcases the rich culture and heritage of Odisha.

Post a Comment