In the Absence of Jagganatha

The tradition of Anasara paintings goes back many centuries and is still practiced by the temple authorities in accordance with the set rules. It’s a triptych on cloth, painted annually by painters exclusively entrusted with the task by the temple authorities. The paintings depicting Narayana, Bhuvaneswari and Ananta replace the three deities or the wooden triad of Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balabhadra for a brief period after the wooden icons are given a bath (post hati vesa). It’s believed that after the bath, the deities fall ill and need time to recover. The anasara pati paintings then replace the wooden triad in the temples in Puri and for the next two weeks the daily offerings are given to them instead of the wooden statues, which are being repainted and repaired, having their colours washed away during the bathing ceremony or the snana yatra/ snana purnima. Come ‘navajaubana darshan’ in the month of June/July, or the ceremony of viewing new youth when the wooden figurines reappear, the anasara pati paintings vanish.

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