A Chaotic Day At Jagannath Puri!


Puri is one of the favorite holiday destinations for pilgrims, beach lovers and Bengalis of-course! I have visited the place with my parents thrice! Now, to be honest, if you're looking for a peaceful and relaxing beach escapade, then this is not the place for you! The beaches are crowded 12 months a year and aren't very clean. But if you want to have a fun time with the family, cram down some samosas and mishtis on the beach, feast on prawn malai curry, crab masala and vegetable pulao, then you're gonna have a gala time here! October to February is the ideal time to visit Puri because rest of the year the place is as hot as a furnace!

So the place I'm gonna share my experience about is the famous Jagnnath temple. My last visit to Puri was in the month of June, 2014 at the time of the popular rath yatra! My grandfather was getting all dramatic that its his last is wish to witness the rath yatra(the actual last one was eating jalebi :P), so we took a four day trip to Puri.

We had spent the first day at the Puri beach laving in the sea. In the evening my mom and sister got busy with street shopping. While they were buying those traditional Sambalpuri kurtas, shell keyrings, tiny jagannath statues and Shantinikeetan purses bargaining till the last penny; my dad and I focused on the Chena Gajas, Roshogollas and Malpuas!

Photo of Puri Beach, Puri, Odisha, India by Madhumita Chatterjee
Photo of Puri Beach, Puri, Odisha, India by Madhumita Chatterjee

Next day we left for the Jagannath Temple hiring a tuk tuk from our hotel. When we reached there, it was sheer madness! The place was crowded like a swarm of bees and making our way into the temple with dadu along with us seemed like an impossible task! We somehow managed to the temple gates making our way through the crowds.

Photo of Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha, India by Madhumita Chatterjee

As soon as we entered we were ambushed by pandits pestering us to spend money on special puja, special entry, special prasad, special darshan and what not! We somehow dodged them and joined an insanely long line to enter the main shrine with people pushing and bulldozing their way in from every direction and the temple priests controlling them with "Bhagwan ki Laathi" . I was sandwiched between my mom and dad and just before I could enter the room, "SMACK!" a blow of god's baton and a small bump sprang up on my forehead! Tears rolled down my cheeks and my mom wrapped me around her arms, wiped my tears and rubbed the my swollen head! I stood in front of the giant statue of Jagannath with my hands folded and eyes red! The priest performing the puja saw my long sobbing face! He smiled at me and handed me a big ladoo. A faint smile broke across my face! We went outside, sat on the temple stares watching a man climb all the way up-to the top of the temple to tie a new flag on its shikhara! We gobbled on the steaming hot bhog prasad and chena gojas! Later we went to one of the three ratha's and pulled its rope along with thousands of devotees. It was a chaotic day altogether but the whole experience was worth the pain and struggle!

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