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Thursday 24 January 2019
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Gundicha temple: The Garden House of Lord Jagannath

Discover interesting facts about Gundicha temple in Puri which is intimately connected with the Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath.

Gundicha Temple Puri Odisha11

The Gundicha temple at Jagannath Puri in the state of Odisha is also referred to as the Garden House of Lord Jagannath. It stands in the middle of a beautiful garden, with walls on all the sides. It is situated about 3 km from the main temple of Jagannath which is known as the Shrimandira. Both these temples are located at either end of the Bada Danda (Grand Road) which is the route of the famous Puri Ratha Yatra. The Gundicha temple is named after Gundicha, the queen of Indradyumna who built the temple.

Architecturally the Gundicha temple exemplifies a typical Kalinga temple and is built using light-grey sandstone in the Deula style. The temple complex has 4 constituents: vimana (tower housing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), nata mandapa (festival hall) and bhoga mandapa (offerings hall). The kitchen is connected via a small passage.

The Gundicha temple has no activity throughout the year except for the nine-day period when the Ratha Yatra takes place when Lord Jagannath is worshipped here. Foreigners who are prohibited from entering the Jagannath temple are however allowed inside this temple during this time. The Gundicha temple is under the Jagannath Temple Administration which is the governing body of the main Jagannath temple. A small team of servitors look after the upkeep of the Gundicha temple.

A day before the world-famous Ratha Yatra in Jagannath Puri is Gundicha marjana. Gundicha marjana is the cleaning of the Gundicha temple to welcome Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra. They stay here for seven days during the Ratha Yatra celebrations in Puri.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would Himself clean the Gundicha temple accompanied by several devotees. He used to do this to set an example and to instruct others. While cleaning the Gundicha temple, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to shed tears, and at times He continued cleaning with those tears.  Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to gather all the straw, dust and grains and deposit it in His cloth and throw it outside the temple premises. All the other devotees who were cleaning the temple would follow His example.

undicha-mandira-marjana

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by doing this, instructed us on how to receive Lord Krishna within our hearts. If we are desirous of seeing Krishna seated within our hearts, we should start by purifying our hearts completely.

The custom in worshiping of the deities at Gundicha temple is that Brahmin temple servants offer puja instead of the daitas (traditional non-Brahmin servitors of Jagannath).

Hera Panchami

The chief ritual celebrated in the Gundicha Temple during the Ratha Yatra is on the fifth (Panchami) day of the Ratha Yatra known as Hera Panchami (Hera means to see). This festival attracts a large number of devotees, who have come to participate in the Ratha Yatra festival. Whereas Lord Jagannath visits Gundicha temple, His consort Lakshmi is left behind in the main temple of Puri. On the Hera Panchami day, an angry Goddess Lakshmi arrives, in the form of Subarna Mahalakshmi, at the Gundicha temple. She is taken inside in a palanquin and worshipped by the priests at Gundicha temple, who also take Her to the sanctum sanctorum to meet Lord Jagannath. The couple is seated face-to-face in the sanctum of the Gundicha temple.

During this time there is a heavy rush of devotees at the temple for darshan. Lakshmi requests the Lord to return home and the Lord gives His consent by offering Her agyan mala (a garland of consent), which She accepts and leaves for the main temple in the evening. On Her way out, to signify Her anger Lakshmi orders one of her attendants to damage a part of Lord Jagannath’s chariot, Nandighosha. This custom is known as Ratha Bhanga (breaking of the chariot). After this, She hides behind a tamarind tree outside the Gundicha temple and later goes home clandestinely by a different path known as Hera Gohri Lane, as She is scared of the repercussions for Her unruly act.

Dakshina Moda

Dakshina Moda, the ceremony of turning south is observed on the sixth day of the Ratha Yatra, i.e., the day after Hera Panchami. All the three chariots are stationed outside the temple, facing the western gate (main temple gate). In getting ready for the Bahuda Yatra or the return journey, all the chariots are made to face towards the main temple on the south side and are stationed near the eastern gate (Nakachana gate) of the Gundicha Temple through which the chariots leave the temple.

Rasa Lila

The Dakshina Moda, heralds the beginning of the Rasa Lila of Lord Jagannath which lasts for three days. This Rasa lila is described in the Puranas as a night in Vrindavan when Sri Krishna danced with Radha and the other gopis. The deity of Lord Jagannath is taken to the temple hall in the Gundicha temple and hymns from the Gita Govinda are sung. This is the reason why Vaishnavas consider the Gundicha temple as Vrindavan during Lord Jagannath’s sojourn here.

Sandhya Darshan and Mahaprasad

As per custom, during Lord Jagannath’s stay in Gundicha temple, the main temple kitchens stop cooking Mahaprasad. The Gundicha temple kitchens are repaired and food is prepared here to offer to Lord Jagannath. The second last day of the festival is known as Sandhya Darshan, (evening prayers). This day is considered the most auspicious day to have darshan of Lord Jagannath. Thousands of devotees come here for darshan and Mahaprasad.

Bahuda Yatra

After having spent seven days in the Gundicha temple, the return journey of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra to the main temple begins. This is called Bahuda Yatra. The deities are brought out of the temple via the Nakachana Gate during the Pahandi ceremony, with beats of cymbals and gongs and the sound of conches. The deities are taken in the same chariots in which They had come, drawn by devotees back to the main temple.

Related Links : 

Understanding the Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra celebrations across the globe

Jagannath Puri Ratha Yatra

The Festival of Chariots

Jagannath Ratha Yatra at Vaikuntha Hill