Every year on the full moon day , last day of the month of Jyestha, (Jyestha Purnima) Lord Jagannath along with Brother Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshan Maharaj come out of the temple to take bath and give darshan to all of his devotees. This is also known as Snana Purnima – Holy bathing festival.The Snanabedi is decorated with traditional paintings. Toranas Archs are put up and is decorated with different types of flowers. All the daily activities is performed on Ratna Simshashana is done on the Snana Bedi which include Mangala Alati, Madhyamha Dhoopa, mailam , Bhogalagi etc before his devotees . The Deities bath with 108 pitchers of sacred water brought from Suna kua(golden well) near Sitala temple of Shri Jagannath temple. This well is also known as Patala Ganga. 35 pitchers are for Lord Jagannath, 33 Pitchers are for Lord Balabhadra , 22 for Goddess Subhadra and 18 for Sudarshan Maharaj. The water is mixed with Chandan,Karpura, Kesar ,Chuara in a 10:6 proportion. Yajna is performed to purify this water and kept in Bhog mandap the day before the Snana Purnima.
According to Skandha Purana when Raja Indradyumna installed the wooden Deities he arranged this bathing ceremony. This day considered to be the birthday of Lord Jagannath.
It is the Preliminary function of Annual Rath Yatra (Car festival). The bathing festival takes place during the morning hours of the Purnima Tithi. The filled vessels are carried from Bhoga Mandap to the Snana Bedi by the Suaras/Daitapatis in a long single-line procession. This ritual is called ‘Jaladhibasa‘ (Jala – water, abhishek – bath).
The bathing festival starts in the morning. On each vessel of water there is a coconut and a cloth called Karia.These are brought from Bhog mandap to Snana Bedi by Garabdu Sevaka by covering their mouth with clothes. After the pujas are performed by Pati Mahapatras, these sebakas start pouring water on the Deities . During this ritual , hymns are chanted.
After the bath Deities are dressed up like Ganesha.This is called Gajanana Besha.It is said those who takes darshan of this Besha their soul get purified and all the sins are washed off.
Following snana Purnima the Deities fall ill and are placed in isolation to observe Anabasara. Anabasar is observed for 15 days. During this period the Deities undergo treatment for recovery. All restoration work including repainting of the Deities is made taken. After repaint and decoration the Lord appears before the devotees which is called Nabajauban (Renewed Youth Incarnation) one day before this Netrostav is observed soon after the Deities are recovered from illness. Then follow the great car festival or Rath Yatra.
Schedule for Deva Snana Purnima
5 am Mangalarpana & preparation for ‘Pahandi’ – The deities would be escorted in ceremonial Pahandi procession by Daita servitors to the Snana Mandap.
30 am to 11.30 am Jalabhisek Puja – The deities would be bathed with scented water brought in 108 pitchers. The water drawn from a special well called “Sunakua” inside the temple complex by the Garabadu servitors would be used.
15 pm Chhera Pahanra – Following the ritual, Gajapati king would sweep the floors of the Snan Mandap with a golden broom.
30 pm and 3 pm Gaja Besha preparation – The deities would dressed in special attires looking like Lord Ganesha popularly called Haati Vesha.
30 pm to 9.30 pm ‘Hati Vesha’ (Gajanana Besh) Darshan – The Vesha would start from afternoon and continue till night. The devotees would be allowed to go to the bathing altar to offer prayers.
Later, the deities would be shifted to AnasaraGhar (sick chamber) as they had fallen “sick” after taking bath.