Herbal Treatment for Puri Deities




Ayurveda might have been overshadowed by modern medicines, but the ancient method of treatment still has its firm roots in Jagannath culture. On Tuesday, the Deities were given herbal treatment to recuperate from illness they suffered post-Debasnan Purnima, an annual ritual where the Deities are given grand bath. Debasnan Purnima was observed on June 9.

In the run-up to Rath Yatra every year, the temple vaidyas (Ayurveda doctors) prescribe the herbal treatment to the Deities. "Despite invasion of modernity, the Jagannath temple has managed to maintain the Ayurveda's significance. We offered the Ayurveda medicine prepared by vaidyas. The Deities will recuperate and give darshan to devotees on June 24, a day before car festival," said senior priest Binayak Dasmohapatra.

Family members of a priest preparing ball-shaped herbal medicines for the Deities 

The Deities have been out of bounds for devotees ever since they took heavy bath on Debasnan Purnima. "The rituals of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are tantamount to the daily chores of a human being. As per tradition, the ailing Lord is undergoing a fifteen-day treatment in the sick-room (anasara ghar) of the temple since Debasnan Purnima. The temple Vaidya is supplying herbal medicines," said Ramchandra Dasmohapatra, one of the priests looking after the Deities.

Temple's Vaidya Binayak Mishra said his family has been preparing herbal medicines for the Deities for ages. "It is our hereditary service. A month before car festival, we collect ten types of medicinal herbs like sala parni, krushna parni, aga bathu and labin koli. We grow the medicinal plants near Konark. Since sala parni and krushna parni are unavailable in Odisha, we procure it from Jharkhand and Karnataka," Mishra told said.

Due to illness, the Deities have gone into a diet control exercise. Unlike the common and festive days, the Deities are offered bhog only twice a day during the fortnight. On a normal day, the Deities are offered more than fifty types of bhog (various types of cakes, cooked food and sweets) for at least six times. "Now we are offering only fruits and juice (mixture of milk and cheese). Cooked foods are strictly prohibited," a priest said.

As darshan of the Deities is restricted during this period, their representative idols, painted on canvas, are worshipped at the temple. "Most of the services are conducted in a secret manner inside the sick room. The rituals usually start during the evening and end in the early hours of next day," said priest Ramaksurhna Dasmohapatra said. The sibling Deities also wear only one 'white cloth' each and live an austere life. In normal days, the Deities sport colorful dresses and fragrant flowers.