Padma Besha :
Any Saturday or Wednesday between the new moon day of the month of Magha and Basanta Panchami is chosen for the Padma Besha. It is made during the ‘Bada Singhara’ ritual at night and the deities remain with the Besha throughout the night. This Besha takes place to perpetuate the legendary memory of a devotee, who had brought the lotus flowers from a very long distance to decorate the Mahapravu. The big petals of lotus adorn the faces of the deities in the shape of a disc. Bada thakura Shree Balabhadra and Mahapravu Shree Jagannath hold lotus buds in their hands. Three triangular crowns made up of lace (crepe) and cloth are decorated with innumerable lotus flowers. Now-a-days flowers made of lace are used instead of natural flowers. It is interesting to note that four swans are projected in this Besha and are seen with the lotus stalks. Perhaps the addition of the swans with the lotus stalks has been made, so that the Besha would appear more lively.
There is an interesting episode related to this Besha. As the story follows-long long ago there was a devotee named Manohar Das, living in the village Shahpur on the banks of the sacred river Rishikulya. With a strong desire to have a darshan of the Mahapravu, Manohar started his journey by walking from the distant village to Shreekshestra Puri. He brought with him a basket full of lotus flowers covered with a towel (gamuchha). In course of his long journey he came across a number of tanks. At every tank he kept some new flowers on the basket and poured water on the old ones to make them fresh. At last he reached Shreekshetra and halted at Bada Chhata Matha, just adjacent to the Lions’ Gate of Sreemandir. The trouble of the long & painful journey could not deter him for his lofty hope that he would offer the flowers to Mahapravu which enlivened his spirit. With that simple faith and devotion he entered inside the temple. The priests of the temple saw the pitiable condition of the old man. They asked him about the thing he kept in the basket covering a towel. He showed them the flowers which were stale and stinking by that time. The priests threw the rotten flowers in the kitchen drain of the Temple and beat him cruelly for his madness. Due to severe injury and mental shock Manohar Das fell down on the ground and became unconscious. In the night the dwellers of Bada Chhata Matha brought him back and put him to rest. Mahapravu Shree Jagannath appeared in the dream of the ruling king at night and asked him to go immediately to Manohar and consider the matter with all kindness. The king called the Rajguru and explained the theme of the dream. The Rajguru took Manohar inside the Temple; with much care collected the thrown away flowers and adorned the deities with those flowers as to fulfill the wish of Manohar. Surprisingly those flowers looked bright pink and emanated divine and sweet fragrance. The blessing of Mahapravu to Bhakta Manohar could be heard from the void.
To perpetuate this incident Padma Besha is being done every year during the said period. As per tradition the Besha materials are being provided by the Bada Chhata Matha. The Matha also offers Khiri (porridge) which is called Padma Besha Khiri and is being distributed among the Sevakas, employees of the Temple and disciples of the Matha the following day.
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