Divine Nuptials

Skanda Purana, the largest out of eight Mahapuranas, describes Lord Vishnu comes down to earth in a human form as Shri Jagannatha during Kali-Yuga. Displaying divine traits or ‘Leelas’, the Lord depicts that there is no distinction between the social and the spiritual life and the social life is nothing other than a manifestation of Divinity.

Four days before Debasnana Purnima, the elopement of Shri Krishna and Rukmini, the princess of Vidharba, is enacted on the auspicious event of Rukminiharan Ekadashi. The Rukmini-haran Ekadashi falls on the eleventh day of the hindu month Jyestha (May-June).

Legend Behind and textual descriptions

Rukmini is believed as an incarnation of Goddess Laxmi who was the only daughter of the king of Vidharba. Rukmini, being inpressed by Shri Krishna’s valour, wished to marry Shri Krishna. But her brother Rukmi, who owned his allegiance to Jarasandha, wanted his younger sister to marry Shishupala. On asking, Rukmini resolved that she would marry only Krishna or die. Thereafter she wrote a love letter expressing discontentment with Rukmi and pleaded him to abduct herself. Shri Krishna happily agreed and defended everyone who opposed the abduction of Rukmini. Later they returned to Dwarka and get married.

Rituals

Rukmini Vivaha is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Jyeshta month. On this day, Shri Jagannatha gets adorned with Baula Pata (the royal finery) to look charming like a bridegroom. Lord Jagannatha sends his dynamic representative, Madanmohan, to kidnap Rukmini.

Madanmohan with Goddess Lakhmi at Shri Nahar, courtesy: Puriwaves

Madanmohan abducts Rukmini and whisks her away from Bimala temple while she is offering her prayer. Shishupala chases duo, hence a war between Shri Krishna and Shishupala ensues and Krishna conquered at last. Later, the marriage of the Lord with Goddess Laxmi is solemnised in the Vivaha Mandap.

Meanwhile the nuptial rituals have already been begun in Shri Jagannatha Mandir from tenth day of Jyestha month following the Rajendra Abhisheka.

On the wedding day, thousands of devotees rush Shri Jagannatha Mandir for Mahaprasad, which is distributed free of cost that evening by servitors of Lord Jagannath.

After marriage, Goddess Laxmi again writes a love letter expressing her desire for holy union with the Lord. As part of Hindu marriage rituals, newly weds get united on the forth day since a marriage is not considered valid until consummation. But the Deba-Snana Poornima, the bath ceremony of the deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra, Sudarshan, and Madanmohan on the Snana Vedi, falls on a full moon day of hindu month Jyestha which happens to be fourth days after the marriage.

Bara-Badhu bandapana: a post marital rite where the newly weds are worshipped (here Madanmohan and Goddess Laxmi), courtesy: Puriwaves

Incidents following that day made Lakhmi more and more furious. On the eve of Snana Poornima, Lord along with his siblings remains busy in giving darshan to devotees throughout the day. After the completion of the bath ritual, deities get sick and move to Anasara Ghara. Thereafter being cured, Lord Jagannatha goes straight to Rath to give darshan and have some loving exchanges of devotees and moved to his aunt’s, Gundicha Ghar.

Wrath of Lakhmi finds expression on Hera Panchami and Niladri Bije. On Hera Panchami, Lakhmi visits Gundicha Mandir to cause a slight damage to the Jagannath’s cart showing her resentment. After nine day stay at his aunt’s home, the divine siblings return back to Niladree or Jagannath Mandir. This auspicious occasion is well known as Niladri Bije. Goddess Laxmi then closes the door of the inner sanctum of the main temple and there goes sweet altercation between Jagannath and Lakhmi.

This tussle between the divine duo is poeticized in odia language as Lakshmi Narayana Bachanika, which is available in Prateek Pattanaik’s voice along with english subtitles:

Ekanta Niti symbolises the divine union of the divine couple which happens to be observed on every Thursday.

Here ends the my writting on one of the myriad leelas of romantic love and humanly yearnings of Lord Jagannath.

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Pattachitra depiction of Goddess Lakshmi with Shri Jagannatha

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