“Chaka aakhi sabu dekhuchi”, is a popular saying in Odia. Which translates to “Lord Jagannath sees it all”. Chaka in Odia means round, Aakhi in Odia means eyes. Notice His round eyes.

When I was in Puri last month, I had mentioned that I was planning to visit Puri during Rathyatra. Well, here is a secret! I was not planning, I had actually promised Him. 26 years were too long a gap, you see. You can read about my last month’s visit here.

Reached here in Puri, just in time to see the annual outing of the Gods, the Rathyatra of 2017. Saw Him gracefully moving towards his chariot (we call it Pahandi in Odia), with his crown (called Tahia in Odia) moving back and forth as He moved. I was quite far off when this was happening, at least couple of hundred meters, may be more. But as He appeared out of the temple main gates, the atmosphere was filled with cries of His name all around. And guess what, I am the first person from my whole family to witness it happening in front of my eyes (as confirmed by my father).

He sees it all!!
Lord Jagannath on a devotee’s t-shirt as he plays his Gini (a traditional Odia music instrument).

The energy on the Grand road (called Bada Danda in Odia) was so much, I saw people dancing for hours (you read that right!) to folk songs from all over Odisha, as well as to the tune of drums (dhol and mridang) and khanjanis (see picture to know what it is). It was like a rave party from another age. And it was as if they were drawing their energy from an eternal source, may be it was Him as He smilingly moved towards them on top his chariot. Because, what I saw there today is not humanely possible. You got to see it to believe it. And boy, was it overwhelming for me. Add to it all the people around (my estimate is half a million, at least), a perfect recipe to get disoriented (in a good way), call it trance!

There were a lot of traffic restrictions all around the town, so I walked all the way, and the last few kilometers were barefoot on the beach as the waves played hide and seek. By the time I reached back at my hotel, I must have clocked 15 kilometres, all in a days walk.

Now, as I sit in my hotel room and write this, I was thinking. How about I bring to you all the tales, legends, facts and stories about Lord Jagannath, that I know? Also, how about stories of Konark? You know that the construction of the Sun temple in Konark was related to events that unfolded in Puri, right?

So, let’s call them “Jagannath series”.

Signing off from Puri, land of Lord Jagannath!

In frame: Lord Jagannath on a devotee’s t-shirt as he plays his khanjani (a traditional Odia music instrument). You can see Him anywhere you want. You just need to look harder. And He sees you, all the time.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

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Written by Amrit Panigrahy

Amrit is a freelance photographer and a storyteller.

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