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Niladri Bije :The story behind Rasagola and how Maa Lakshmi is pacified

Sanjeev Hota

After almost a month Mahaprabhu is about to return to Ratna Singhasana. But Maa Laxmi is angry because our Jaga has done something to invite Her anger. On 31st May they got married and few days after that Mahaprabhu decided to take the ceremonial bath on Deva Snana Purnima on 4th June. The day after He falls sick and He along with siblings retire to the Anasara Ghara to recoup from the fever. As soon as He recovers He decided to go on a sojourn to Janma Bedi at Sri Gundicha Temple. And He leaves when Maa Laxmi is asleep without informing Her!
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Lakshmi gets angry on Jagannath and a century or millennium old tradition of offering Rasagolla starts in Sri Mandir. This tradition has been there since perhaps the temple existed. Dandi Ramayan’, an Odia adaptation of Valmiki Ramayan, written in the 15th century provided evidences of the existence of rasagola in the Odisha much before it appeared anywhere else. Even the ‘Madala Panji’, a chronicle of the Jagannath temple, mentions it. Rasagola has been mentioned in Odia literature much before 1893 when its supposedly claimed to have been made by a sweet seller. GI tag or no GI tag Rasagola originating in Sri Mandir is as true as the existence of the Lord of Jagannath. What time which year ? Well Mahaprabhu only knows and this mystery of Rasagola is as mysterious as HIM.
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But what’s the story behind this very intresting ceremony of the Lord of the Universe.
During the anavasara period, as an ideal newly-wedded wife, Lakshmi completely devotes herself to nursing her sick husband. For fourteen days she gives up sleeping, after which she understandable becomes a little tired and falls asleep. As soon as he sees that Lakshmi has fallen asleep, her husband Jagannath unties his cloth from Lakshmi’s and immediately leaves for the Gundicha temple . This takes place on the second day of the bright half of the month of Asadha, and is known as Gundicha-yatra or Ratha-Yatra.
Lakshmi Devi wakes up a few days later to find her husband gone. When she inquires where he is, Jagannath’s servant explains that he went to see his Mausi(Aunty). Hearing this, Lakshmi leaves the alter, and goes to stay in the storage room of the Jagannath Temple – just like a depressed wife would. She refuses to take opulent food, and dines like poor people on dalua rice and kalamba saga.
The sixteenth chapter of the Vamadev-samhita describes that Lakshmi went to Bimala Devi and said
“O dear elderly lady, you already know about the misdeeds of Jagannath. I don’t know where he and his sister went. Being his wife, do I now at least have the right to know where he goes? What wrong did I do to deserve such a thing ? What can I say about his promiscuous nature ?
Bimala replies:
“When a husband loses his intelligence, it is well known that one has to make him aware. Therefore take this magic powder and go to where your husband is, o queen of the demigods.”
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The following morning, on the fifth day after Jagannath’s departure, Lakshmi wakes up in a sulky mood. She finally has a bath and puts on ornaments. Then, collecting some of her associates, she is carried on a palanquin to the Gundicha Mandir to see Mahaprabhu. This festival is known as Hera-Panchami and takes place on the fifth day after Ratha Yatra. The festival is also sometimes called. Lakshmi-vijayotsava, or “the victory celebration of Lakshmi”.
After staying at the Gundicha Temple for seven days, Jagannatha, along with Balaram and Subhadra devi return to the main temple on their chariots.
At this time the Gajapati Maharaja tries to help patch up the misunderstanding between the couple by arranging a reunion known as Lakshmi Narayana Bheta. Lakshmi is brought to the Chahani Mandapa near the Lion-gate to see that her husband has returned. An elephant is then brought to bring her from the temple, but she sulkily refuses. When the offer is made again, she finally comes out in a palanquin to Jagannath’s cart. She circumambulate her husband and then quietly goes back inside of the temple.
Having returned to the Sri Mandir, Mahaprabhu Jagannath wants to pacify his sulky wife. Some say that it is for this purpose that on the evening of Bahuda Ekadasi he wears the Suna-vesa, golden dress to impress Maa . This most opulent of all Jagannatha’s dresses consists of solid gold hands and feet, and many, many gold necklaces, earrings and various gold ornaments. It’s said that on this day, between the three deities they are wearing more that one ton of gold – and appropriate dress to pacify the goddess of fortune.
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The following day, the deities go back inside of the sri mandir in what we know now is called Niladri Bije.
First Balaram and Subhadra return to their place on the alter. However, when Jagannatha is about to get down from his cart to go inside, Lakshmi’s maidservants slam the Singa Dwara (Lion-gate) shut and bar Jagannatha’s entry.
Following this there is a dialogue carried out between representative of Jagannath and representative of Lakshmi.
Jagannatha’s spokesperson goes to the gate and loudly proclaims something to the effect of,
“Jagannath loves his wife Lakshmi very much. He feels very bad, and is begging for her forgivenss”
The voice of Lakshmi’s maidservant comes from the other side, “Go away !”
After some more sweet words, finally Jagannath is allowed to enter the Lion-gate. But when he arrives at the inner jaya-vijay-gate, again Lakshmi’s maidservants close the door and deny is entrance. The dialogue continues between the two parties. Lakshmi tells her maidservants to tell Jagannath the following.
Atra sthale smakam api devi candi sthita vibho
Asmin-sthale pi tvat-saukhyam deva nasty priyana hi ||
“Only goddess Chandi is presen there, O Lord. Your beloved is not here; there is no happiness for you here (thereforeyou should go elsewhere)”
Candanadi-sugandham yad bhaksya-bhojyadikam ca yat
Idam virahini-sthanamtat-sthanam gaccha he vibho ||
“All fragrant substance such as chandan and all nice eatables and so on are there in the place of your aunt you visted. Go to her place, O Lord.”
Lakshmi is nursing her neglect and humiliation. In this mood she is called the manini-nayika
Jaganantha replies, “I was with my elder brother, Balaram. How could you accompany me”
Hearing the banter Bada Thakura shouts from inside.
No photo description available.
“Who’s arguing at the door unnecessarily. Are you going to stop or we will have a separate house from tomorrow.”
Hearing Her Dedha Sasura getting angry Maa Lakshmi tell Her Dasis to open the door quickly.
Jagannath then promises Lakshmi various valuable gifts. But Lakshmi says that she does not deserve them for she comes from a poor family.
So finally, after giving her asari, nice ornaments, and Rasagola. Lakshmi relents and allows Jagannath to re-enter the temple.
This festival of angry words from the goddess of fortune, and Jagannatha’s ultimate triumphant return to the Sri Mandir, is called the Niladri Bije
Once Jagannath has returned to the temple ther is another ceremony wherein they again tie together Lakshmi’s and jagannath’s cloth. The couple is finally reunited. …………….and the love story of the Universe continues ever after.. From eternity to eternity
Jai Jagannath…

About Editor in chief

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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