Besha (Decoration) Tuesday, Jun 09, 2015

The deities in the Jagannath Temple are adorned with special ceremonial costumes on various occasions. These are called 'Besha'(Decoration) which have considerable importance and these Besha draw a vast magnitude of visitors every year to the shrine. These Besha have derivative significance relating to the descriptions in the Ramayana, the Srimad Bhagabat Gita.   

Some of the Besha are:

Abakash Besha (Leisure Decoration):

It is done after Mangal Alati and 'Mailam' (Change of Dress) every morning. It is one of the diurnal rites of the deities. The deities do not take bath in holy water except on their birth days. The bath is performed in a symbolic manner. Three brass mirrors are kept in front of three deities on which images of the deities are reflected. Holy water mixed with Camphor, Curd, Amla (a medicinal nut) mixed with sandal paste are poured on these brass mirrors to complete their bath. Before bath, tooth sticks and tongue scrapes are shown to the deities as symbol of brushing teeth. During this process called 'Abakash', the deities are adorned with a 'Besha'. The deities are given a 'Tadap'(cloth) and 'Uttariya' (scarf of the shoulder), by the Puspalaka Sevak (a category of servitors). It is said to be the bathing dress of the deities. Legend goes that Acharya Shankar had initiated such decoration, in 9th century AD, during the reign of King Jajati.

Badasimhara Besha:

This decoration is made every day at night before deities go to bed. Deities are dressed with typical colored cloth according to the day of the week. Generally it is floral decoration with minimum use of cloth. Record of Rights of Puri temple prescribes this 'Besha' to be organized at 10.30 night. It has been practiced since 12th century AD. Rama Das Mutt and Emar Mutt provide flowers and decorated floral costumes for such Besha. Changada Mekap keeps the 'Pata'(Silk Cloth) ready every day. “Geeta Govinda" slokas are inscribed on the cloth. These are commonly known as 'Geeta Govinda Khandua'. It is said that Atibadi Jagannath Dash, a great devotee of Lord Jagannath, Author of Odia "Bhagabat" and a great scholar used to go to bed after viewing Badasinhar Besha of the deities. The cloths used in this 'Besha' reflect the color of the planets. On Sundays, the deities are provided with two pieces of Red Cloth, on Monday whitish cloth having black spots, on Tuesday clothes mixed with five colours (Pancha Ranga Joda), on Wednesday sky blue color cloth, on Thursday yellow cloth (Vasant or spring color), on Friday white clothes and on Saturday violet color (brown) cloth.

Almost all flowers having fragrance such as Tarat, Tagar, (White flowers), Padma(Lotus), Gendu (yellow flowers), Jasmine, Roses are used in this 'Besha'. 'Tulsi' and 'Deyana'(specific flowers in loose and stung forms) are used in the 'Besha'.

Suna Besha (Golden Decoration):

When the deities return to the main gate of Jagannath Temple after Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival), they wait for 2 to 3 days. In the evening of Ekadasi (11th of Bright Asadha) "Suna Besha" is offered to them. The golden ornaments used at the time of 'Suna Besha' include 'Srihasta' (Golden hands), "Sripad" (Golden Feet), 'Srimukuta' (A huge golden crown), a golden peacock  feather, a golden Alaka (Forehead ornament), 'Kundal' (Golden ear-rings), 'Rahu Rekha'( A half-square shaped golden aura around the faces of the deities), 'Mala' (Golden Necklaces of  various designs modeled after different flowers i.e. Padma, Sevati, Agasti, Parijata, Kadamaba, Kanti, Champa and  peacock feathers) and most precious gold-studded ornament called 'Sri Chita'. Besides the occasion of 'Ratha Yatra' (Chariot festival) 'Golden Decoration' is also added on 'Dusserah', 'Pausha Purnima'(Full moon night of Pausha), 'Kartik Purnima'(Full moon night of Kartik), 'Asadha Shukla Ekadasi'(11th white moon of Asadha). Scholars opine that 'Suna Besha' has been practiced since 1232 AD. Lord Jagannath was declared 'Utkal Samrat' or "Lord of the Nation" by king Ananga Bhima Deva in 13th century. So this 'Besha' is attributed to the sovereign beauty and dignity of the Lord. Among these five Besha, one is done on the Chariot on the occasion of Asadha Shukla Ekadasi while others on the 'Ratna Sinhasan' (Jeweled Throne) of the temple.


Raja Besha:

The deities are dressed on 'Vijaya Dasami'(Dusserah) and sit decorated on 'Ratna Sinhasan'. On this day, followed by 'Abakash' (Teeth brushing and bathing), Sandal paste is brought in 3 silver pots by the 'Bhandar Mekap'(Servitor in charge of stores). Then the deities are given 'Sandal" on the whole body. Five nos of garlands are given to the deities. This 'Besha' (decoration ) has been observed since the time of king Kapilendra Dev, it is said.

This 'Besha'(Decoration) celebrates Lord Jagannath as incarnation of Sri Rama who defeated King Ravan (Demon King) on 'Dusserah', being victorious in the war. In this royal "Besha", bow and arrows are added to show Shree Jagannath as Shree Rama. The 'Besha', otherwise described as 'Pushyabhiseka Besha' is dedicated to the Ramayan, honoring the sentiment of 'Devotees' of Rama.

Padma Besha (Lotus Decoration):

This 'Besha' was first started by Mahant Raghubar Das (17th Century AD), instrumental to the establishment of Badachhata Mutt. As 'Padma', signifies all our knowledge, meditation, actions, reverence and purity for its all accepted virtues, Lord Jagannath  symbolises all these qualities, Legend says that Lord Jagannath, being delighted with reverence of one Manohar Das, a Hindi speaking devotee, had been decorated with lotus flowers given by the same individual. "Lotus Besha" is one of the loveliest decorations of the deities. Fresh pink and white lotus garlands are spread across arms of the deities and lotus petals made of sol pitch are placed on their heads. The sides of the deities are also decorated with various art motifs made of sol pitch in lotus design. 


Source :I & PR Department