Yesterday it was an important day for the God Jagannath’s temple. Many people all over India go to the Jagannath temple and make the God bathe with water. This happens for the whole day and in the evening time it is said that the God gets sick because of this all-day-long bathing. Usually people offer sweets in the temples but after the God gets sick, people offer parwal (a vegetable) and basil soup, and then this soup is distributed amongst people as blessing. After this offering, temples are closed for the next fifteen days.
Parwal and basil soup is an Ayurvedic medicine and is prescribed to people suffering with cold and cough. So the idea is that the God will also feel better after taking this Ayurvedic medicine. The temple gate is kept closed for the fifteen days. The priest opens the gate once everyday to offer basil and parwal soup. It is said that the God will be okay after fifteen days and then people take the statue out of the temple on a chariot and bring it to the Lord Jagganath’s Sasural temple near Rathyatra. This is done to give some good time to the God after the sickness of the fifteen days:)
In Benares, the God is brought to his Sasural temple but in Puri, people bring the statue to Lord Jagganath’s aunt’s temple. The statue is kept for the next two days in these temples and then a huge fair is organized. In Benares, the statue is brought on a chariot and is kept for three days on the main road near Rathyatra Crossing and after three days of fair, the statue is brought back again to the temple. These are the only three days in a year when the God Jagganath’s temple is out of any statue. This festival is called Rathyatra.
The Benares fair is not big, but not small either but the Puri festival is literally huge. Over ten million people had atteneded the Puri fair last year.