July 5, 2022, 4:44 p.m. by Karuwaki Speaks ( 176 views)
Lord Jagannath holds an unique place in the lives of Oriyas.To the millions of hindus of Orissa, Jagannath is their nearest kith & kin. Even in faraway,remote villages, before an auspicious event starts, people remember to send a coconut,areca nut smeared with turmeric to Lord Jagannath as nimantran/invitation seeking his blessings. Only after that, the rest of the invitation cards are distributed amongst relatives & friends.
The sacred name of Jagannath is invoked on every occasion & while he may be the supreme deity, the Puroshottam to countless hindus everywhere,his relationship with Oriyas is almost human & overwhelming. Hera Panchami is celebrated at the Gundicha temple on the fifth day of the Jagannath Rath Yatra & is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.
The word 'hera' means “to see” and refers to the goddess of fortune, Mahalaxmi going to see her husband,Lord Jagannath. The word panchami means “the fifth day” because this takes place on the fifth day of ratha yatra. Hera Panchami ritual is mentioned in the Skanda Purana. However, Madala Panji states that it is King Kapilendra Dev(15th century), who introduced a gold idol of Mahalaxmi and transformed the earlier symbolic practice of vedic mantras into a full-fledged colourful Utsav.
Later on, King Pratraprudra Dev increased the grandeur of this festival to seek Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's blessings. Chaitanya mahaprabhu's influence & worship was mainly in the Gundicha temple which he referred to as Sunderanchala. The temple of Lord Jagannath is known as Srimandira. ‘Sri’ means ‘Laxmi’, so the name of the temple as ‘Srimandira’ signifies that Goddess Mahalaxmi is the principal Goddess of the Grand Temple.
This ritual highlights the angst of Mahalaxmi at being ignored by the Lord of the universe in a very human display of emotion. After the ratha yatra,The goddess Laxmi in a fit of feminine anger & jealousy at being left behind,proceeds to the Gundicha Temple, the Adapa Mandapa.
The godess of fortune, in the form of Suvarna (Golden) Mahalaxmi sits in a beautifully decorated palanquin & in a colorful procession with great pomp, splendor and traditional music goes to meet her divine consort, Lord Jagannath. Her palanquin is carried by Bimanabadu sevakas (servitors) on their shoulders. The devotees & servitors who are part of the procession of Goddess Mahalaxmi sing the traditional Hera Panchami song which expresses Mahalaxmi's divine resentment.
She also carries the ‘Mohana Churna’ (a herbal powder with hypnotic qualities to attract husband) given to her by goddess Bimala who is a tantric devi. ‘Mohana’ means ‘To Hypnotize’, in oriya. InJagannath-centric traditions, while Lakshmi is the orthodox consort of Jagannath in the temple complex, Bimala is the Tantric consort and guardian goddess of the temple complex. So both the divine consorts of the Lord of the universe,hatch a plan to bring back their husband back to the Srimandir.
As soon as the palanquin halts near Nandighosha chariot, the Pati Mahapatra (a representative of Lord Jagannath) welcomes Goddess Mahalaxmi with predefined ceremonial offerings & she is escorted to the Jaya Vijay door of Gundicha temple. Magalaxmi imperiously threatens lord Jagannath to come back to the temple at the earliest & throws the 'mohana churna' in the air.
To pacify her, the Lord offers her 'agyan mala', a garland of consent. Seeing the Goddess furious, the sevaka close the main door of the Gundicha temple. Mahalakshmi angrily breaks a portion of the nandighosha rath & hides under a tamarind tree. She returns back to the Srimandir secretly through the Nakachana gate & Hera gouri sahi without any fanfare or procession to avoid being caught.
This unique festival is very popular amongst devotees & every year large crowds jostle near the gundicha temple to watch this endearing divine fight between the celestial deities.