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Balarama Jayanti

Aug. 3, 2020, 12:16 p.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 332 views)

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Balarama is a prominent ancient deity and the elder brother of Krishna. He is particularly significant in the Jagannath cult, as one of the triad deities. He is also known as Baladeva, Balabhadra, Haladhara, and Halayudha. The first two refer to his strength, the last two associates him with "plough" Indicating his strong associations with an agrarian culture.

Certain archeological and numismatic evidence shows him appearing as multi-headed Naga, a plough, and other farm artifacts such as a watering pot. Balarama's legend appears in many ancient texts like the Mahabharata wherein Balarama is an avatar of Vishnu, while Krishna is the source of all avatars and existence. He is also mentioned in Harivamsa, krishnacharitmanas, Puranas, Kautilya's arthashastra amongst others. According to legends, Balarama was the son of Vasudeva & Rohini and born on Shravan Purnima. Evil Kamsa had already killed six newborn children of Devaki, his sister, because of a prediction that he would die at the hands of her eighth child. Balarama grew up with his younger brother Krishna with foster parents, Nanda and his wife Yashoda. After the death of Kamsa, Balaram & Krishna went to the ashram of saint Sandipani in Ujjain.

Balarama is the celebrated plougher and harbinger of prosperity, one of the pillars of agriculture along with livestock with whom Krishna is associated with. He was the constant companion of Krishna, ever watchful, leading to the epithet "Luk Luk Dauji" (or Luk Luk Daubaba) in the Pustimarga tradition of Vaishnavism. The plough is Balarama's weapon.

During the times of Kurukshetra, Balarama taught both Duryodhana and Bhima the art of fighting with a mace. When war broke out between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Balarama remained neutral and went for a pilgrimage with his nephew Pradyumna and other Yadavas. He returned on the last day of the Kurukshetra war to watch the fight between his disciples.

Balarama Jayanti:The festival of Strength|Karuwakispeaks

The Bhagavata Purana describes that after Balarama took part in the battle causing the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty and witnessing the disappearance of Krishna, he sat down in a meditative state and departed from this world.

Some scriptures describe a great white snake that left the mouth of Balarama, a reference to his identity as Ananta-Seshanag. The place where he departed is situated near Somnath Temple in Gujarat.

Shravan Purnima/Rakhi Purnima is the birthday of Lord Balabhadra and is also celebrated as Gamha Purnima/Jhulan Purnima in Odisha.

In Paralakhemundi, Nayagarh, and Berhampur the birthday of Lord Baladeva is celebrated through a popular game known as Gamha-Diyan.

Balarama Jayanti:The festival of Strength|Karuwakispeaks

Gamha Diyan

Gamha Purnima is celebrated in Jagannath temple, Puri with special rituals. The deities wear a special ornament called "Rahulekha".

Devi Subhadra ties the rakhi on the wrists of her brothers Lord Balabhadra and Lord Jagannath. Patara Bisoi servitors make rakhis for the occasion.

Balarama Jayanti:The festival of Strength|Karuwakispeaks

Sacred Rakhi is being Carried to Lord Sri Jagananth & Sri Balavadra

The Sudha Suar servitors along with the Puja Panda, Pati Mohapatra, and Mudirasta are allocated with performing the various rituals associated with this festival. After the "Jhulana" rituals are over, "Sudarshana" the plenipotentiary of lord Jagannath, boards the ‘Chaudola’ bejeweled with golden ‘Harida mali' and travels to the Markandeya pond to complete the rituals.

Whatever may be the core of the Jagannath cult and the underlying theology of the secret worship, it is these festivals that attract the masses of devotees towards the Lord & visiting the temple becomes a sacrament. The colour and drama, exotic mysticism, and exalted devotion all combine to make the cult of Jagannath so appealing to his devotees worldwide.

Balarama Jayanti:The festival of Strength|Karuwakispeaks

(NOTE:Photos from internet for Illustrative purpose)

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