Bhubaneswar is famous as a Saiva Khetra and Lord Lingaraja is its principal deity. Lingaraja, otherwise called Kirtivasa, Kruttivasa, Bhubaneswar and Tri-Bhubaneswar, is believed to be the most sacred of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India and is held in high esteem by every pious Hindu. It is a Swayambhu (self established) Linga. The form in which it is represented in the sanctuary is that of a huge uncarved block of granite, about 8 feet (2.4384 metres) in diameter, and rising eight inches (0.2032 metres) above the level of the floor. It is half-buried in the centre of the sanctum and is surrounded by a raised rim of black chlorite ending on the north-side into a point. This rim is called the Yoni, or the female emblem. The upper surface of the granite block was originally unhewn. Although frequent washings for many centuries have given it a polish, it is even now very uneven and undulating.
Vaishnavite influence on Lingaraja
A natural line that exists in the Swayambhu Linga (Lingaraja) is generally pointed out as the line demarcating the Siva and Vishnu portions of the same deity who is invoked as Harihara. The leaves of vilva and tulasi, which are favourites respectively of Siva and Vishnu, are used in daily worship. The Brushava Stambha bears at the top not only a bull, the mount of Siva; but also a Garuda, the mount of Vishnu, which having been placed side by side in front of the temple, have evidently been meant to make the synthesis of the two cults visual to a visitor at his first approach to the shrine. The crowning members of the Lingaraja temple can be seen from a distance and the topmost two of them are an ayudha (weapon) and a pataka (flag). In order to bring home to the general public that the shrine belongs to both the sect, the ayudha which must have originally been a trisula, was replaced by one consisting of half a disc and a trident.
Moreover, in remodelling the Lingaraja temple, the Ganga kings also introduced some Vaishnavite features which are not usually found in other Saiva shrines. In the southern door-jambs of the Natamandira are to be found the images of the Vaishnava Dwarapalas : Jaya Vijaya, in place of Chanda and Prachanda. On the western side of the main temple of Lingaraja and on the northern side of its Bhogamandapa the images of Jagannath and Lakshmi-Narayan have been enshrined, so that a devotee while making circumambulation will first meet these Vaishnavite deities before he enters the main shrine to pay homage to the Swayambhu Linga. Among the subsidiary temples standing within the compound of the Lingaraja, there are two to the south of the main shrine of which one contains the image of the Nrusimha incarnation of Vishnu and the other, the three images of Ananta, Basudeva, and Ekanamsa. Besides, on the day Lord Lingaraja returns to the temple after completing the Car Festival of Asokastami, a mock quarrel is staged between two parties of priests representing Lingaraja and Parvati, because during the car festival of the former takes with him Lakshmi (Rukmini), wife of Vishnu and not Parvati.
The cumulative effect of the influence of the Jagannath cult on the Lingaraja temple have been that it has lost its distinctive character of a Saiva shrine and has adopted the cosmopolitanism of the Jagannath at Puri. The priests, known as Badus, who have been described in the sixty-second chapter of the Ekamra Purana asthe descendants of a Savara mother by a Saiva saint known as Siddhabhuti are like the Daitapatis of the Jagannath temple still the custodians of the Lingaraja shrine, although the Brahmins have also taken a share in the worship in recent times. 'Notwithstanding the well-known orthodox dictum that the offerings given to Siva are not to be partaken of by any Hindu, even the cooked rice offered to Lingaraja is eaten by all caste Hindus including the Brahmins'. The custom is certainly analoguous to the one prevalent in the Jagannath temple where, while partaking of the cooked rice offered to the god, no caste distinction is observed.
That these influences of the Jagannath cult in the Lingaraja temple are not of recent origin is proved by the Ekamra Purana and other allied works.Offerings
The deity is bathed with water several times every day and is wiped dry after each lustration. Offerings of flowers, sandal paste and cloth are placed on the block (the Linga and the Yoni pitha), and other offerings are put near it, and the divinity is invoked to accept them. Hemlock (Conium maculatum) or hemlock flowers which are generally given to a Siva Linga are not allowed in the Lingaraja temple. The leaves of vilva (Aegle marmelos) and tulasi (Ocimum sanctum), are used in daily worship. Offerings of cooked rice, curries, and sweet-meats are displayed in the Bhogamandapa, whence the divinity is invoked to accept them. Coconuts, ripe plantains, and kora-khai are generally offered to Lingaraja by the pilgrims. The beverage of bhanga is offered to Lingaraja by some devotees especially on the day of Pana Sankranti.Daily Sevices
The door of the temple is opened in the morning at about 6 a.m. Before the door of the main temple is opened, the Palia Badu with a pitcher of water goes round the temple compound sprinkling water in worship on all the phallic images of Siva. At about 6.30 a.m. the door of the main temple is unlocked. A servant called Akhanda lights the lamp in the cella to awaken the Lord from his sleep. Half an hour later the Palia Badu fetches two vessels of water for the ablution of the deity. The thre Brahmin servants Charchita, Panda and Patri perform the act of adoration in which incense is lighted and arati is done.
When tha arati is over, the Palia Badu begins to brush the teeth of the deity. A stick smashed at one end to form a brush is moved about in front of the stone to represent symbolically the act of brushing the teeth. Water is then poured out and a napkin turned about to complete the symbolical ablution of the face.
Flowers used for decoration on the previous night are then removed. Lingaraja is then bathed and fresh flowers along with leaves of vilva (Aegle marmelos) are placed in decoration on the deity. While bathing Lingaraja, the priest announces that this is being done in the name of the Raja of Puri.
After this act is over, the temple is thrown open to the prilgrims up to 12 noon. The transverse beam separating the cella from the Jagamohan is removed and pilgrims are allowed to enter the former.
The temple is closed at about 12 O'clock(noon) until about 3.30 P.M. After the door is closed a ceremony known as 'Mahasnana' is performed by Palia Badu who bathes the deity with water. The Panda Brahmin pours 'Panchamruta' (a mixture of milk, curdled milk, clarified butter, honey and gur) upon the deity for purification. The Brahmin servant called Changara is now called by the Palia Badu for supplying clothes and ornaments for decoration. The Palia Badu changes the dress and lays a few ornaments upon it by way of decoration. Flowers and vilva leaves are also changed and the floor is completely washed. At about 1 P.M., a ripe plantain is divided into two, one half is offered to Surya (Sun God) and the other half to Dwarapala (the deity guarding the doorway). Sweets are offered to each with half a banana.
Between 1.00 and 1.30 P.M. the food offering called Ballabha Bhoga (breakfast containing curdled milk, curds, and khai) is placed before the deity by Patri Brahmin. After this breakfast (previously it was done in the morning. But nowadays there has been considerable dislocation, and Ballabha Bhoga or breakfast has been shifted to early afternoon) the consecrated food is carried to the temple of Parvati and placed before her as an offering, in consonance with the practice observed by the orthodox Hindu housewives.
At about 2 P.M. the Sakala Dhupa (morning's offeing of food) takes place. After the food is offered to Lingaraja by the Charchita Brahmin some of the offerings are carried to the temple of Parvati to serve her. Then comes the ceremony of waving light.
There is another offering of food at 3.30 P.M. known as Bhanda Dhupa or food offered at Bhogamandapa. This food is later shared by the Panda, Patri and Palia Badu. It is during this ceremony that food offered by the pilgrims is also presented before the deity.
Then the temple is once more open to the pilgrims for about an hour, after which the door is closed for a light refreshment known as Ballabha Dhupa.
Then follows the Dwipahar Dhupa (mid-day meal) which takes place nowadays at about 5 P.M. After this the door is closed for the siesta of the Lord. At about 7 P.M. the door is opened by the Palia Badu. Then the Sandhya arati is performed and the pilgrims are allowed to visit the Lord till 8 P.M.
The door is afterwards closed for another light meal called Sahana Dhupa. After serving the meals the ceremony of waving light (arati) is once more performed before the deity.
Between 9 and 9.30 P.M. preparation are being made for the last service of the day, namely, Bada Singara (the great decoration).
The deity is decorated with flowers and ornaments after which light food offering is made. Lingaraja is then supposed to retire for the night. A wooden palanquin is laid in the room, incense lighted, drinking water is served, and prepared betel is placed near-by. The Panchabaktra Mahadeva comes to the palanquin and returns to his own abode after the arati is performed. This is a bronze image of Mahadeva having five faces and Parvati in his lap. The daily work of the temple ends with this service. Then the door of the temple is closed for the night.
Each of these ceremonies is accompanied by ritual observances and recitations of mantras especially provided for them. The various offerings to the god in the temple become mahaprasad. Although offerings to Siva are not attached with sanctity elsewhere, the Bhogas of Lingaraja are taken as an exception. They have the same sanctity attached to them as the Bhogas of Jagannath at Puri and Ananta Vasudeva at Bhubaneswar and their virtues are dilated upon in the Siva Purana and Kapila Samhita.Sebakas of Lingaraja
There are various classes of servitors in the temple of Lingaraja. They are Akhanda, Abadhana, Bauri, Bhandari, Bhitar Khuntia, Changara, Chaparasi, Charchita, Chata, Dakhinaghar sebaka, Dhoba, Dhopakhalia, Garabadu, Gauda, Ghantua, Gudia, Hadapa Naika, Kahalila, Karatia, Keuta, Kumbhara, Mahasuara, Mekap, Palia Badu, Panchuati, Puja Panda, Panti Badu, Parvati, Pasupalaka, Patri, Pharaka, Parakarana, Pradhan, Puspanjalia, Rosa Paika, Samartha, Teli and Baidya.
Priests and servants connected with the temple were few when the original arrangements were made. But later on, families grew in size or split up, as a result of which there were many claimants to the same office. So, the temple scribe called Parakarana maintains a list and notifies to each individual concerned his khatani, for the following day. Khatani is a term used to denote the particular duty which a person has to perform. Since there are many people entitled to perform the same duty and receive emoluments, the turn of each comes by rotation.
Many of the Brahmin and non-Brahmin Sebakas have given up service in the temple, or continue it, not personally but by proxy. So some of them have indeed become professional substitutes for others and are thus able to supplement their meagre income.Festivals
The festivals celebrated in honour of the divinity are called yatras. There are 14 principal and 12 minor yatras observed in a year. The year begins from the 1st day of new moon in the month of Margasira (November-December) when the ritual year is said to commence, and the festivals are usually calculated from that date.
In the temple there are deputies or Chalanti Pratima, viz., Chandra Sekhar, Gopalini, Durga, Dolagovinda, Panchabaktra and Basudeva. All these images are worshipped in a small temple called Dakhina Ghar (Southern Temple). In some festival days the mobile deputies go out on courtesy visit to different temples. Since the deity Lingaraja is a solid block of stone, it is represented by small bronze images called Chalanti Pratima. When the deputies are to go out, they are first taken to the transverse beam by the respective priests after which they are taken to the decorated Vimana. Before the deputies are taken out a coconut is broken near god Ganesh for the smooth ending of the festival.
The hereditary temple officials, such as a representative of Panchuati, Parakarana, Samantra, Parichha, etc., accompany the deities on festivals along with other Sebakas. The magistrate and the police maintain law and order during these processions.
The fourteen principal festivals of the Lord are Prathamastami, Pravarana Sasthi, Pusyaviseka, Makar Sankranti, Maghasaptami, Sivaratri, Asokastami, Damana Bhanjika, Chandan Yatra, Parasurama Astami, Sayana Chaturdasi, Pabitra Ropani, Yamadvitia and Uthana Chaturdasi. The twelve minor festivals are Dhanu Sankranti, Basanta Panchami, Bhaimi Ekadasi, Kapila Yatra, Dola Yatra, Naba Patrika, Sitala Sasthi, Janmastami, Ganesh Chaturdasi, Durgastami, Sodasadina Parba and Kumarottsava.Car Festival of Lord Lingaraja:
The Car Festival of Lord Lingaraja is celebrated at Bhubaneswar on the day of Asokastami. In the village Dia near Nirakarpur in the Khurda sub-division a car festival of Lord Kapileswara, a form of Siva, is also held on this day. Except these two places, nowhere in Orissa car festival is held on the day of Asokastami.
The festival takes place on the 8th of the wane in the month of Chaitra (March-April) the day preceding Ramanavami. The day is held sacred, because on this day Sita when confined by Ravana in Asoka Bana is said to have offered some Asoka (Saraca indica) flowers to god while praying for re-union with her Lord Ramachandra. Hindu wives mark it by eating eight Asoka buds because they believe that they will be relieved of all troubles and unhappiness for the year. Spinsters establish bond friendship by placing Asoka buds in each other mouth. A detailed account on this festival has been given in the Ekamra Purana which spread over many pages.
On the day before the car festivals, the chariot is ceremonially purified by the Kshetrabasi Brahmins of the town and the flag is fixed at the top of the chariot. This is called Neta Uchhaba(Flag ceremony). At the night of the Neta Uchhaba, barren women bathe in the water of the Marichi Kunda situated near the Mukteswara temple. It is believed that when a barren woman bathes in the water of this tank on this particular occasion, she is relieved of sterility.
On the day of Asokastami towards mid-day three deities, i.e., Chandrasekhar (the respresentative of Lord Lingaraja), Rukmini and Basudeva are ceremonially brought to ascend the car. The image of Chandrasekhar is a four-armed Siva image-two arms in abhaya posture, the third holding an axe (Parashu) and the fourth holding a deer (Mruga). The image of Basudeva is a four-armed Vishnu image holding Sankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma. the image of Rukmini is a four-armed Durga image holding Sankha, Chakra and Sula in two hands. All are bronze images. The sitting position of the deities is like this : Rukmini is seated in the middle, Chandrasekhar to her right and Basudeva to her left. An idol of Brushava and a big wooden image of Brahma, who is said to be the charioteer (Sarathi) of the car, are placed in the car.
The car is drawn westward up to Badhei Banka and from there northward to the Rameswara temple situated at a distance of 1.5 km. from the Lingaraja temple. The road on which the car is pulled is called the Ratha Danda. Previously, cane ropes were used to draw the car, but nowadays coir ropes are used for the purpose. Hundreds of people pull the car with devotion. The womenfolk do not pull the car, but get satisfication by touching rope. When the car is pulled, the Dahuka standing on the left side of the car shouts eloquently many vulgar couplets which the crowd enjoys. On the way the car stops in the Asura Kiari where Pana and Muan are offered to propitiate the Asuras for the safe journey of the car. After the car crossed the Asura Kiari it is drawn up to a banian tree called Debasabha Batabrukshyua where it stops. The deities are taken to the Rameswara temple and are kept for four days in a small apartment which is called Gundicha Ghar. During their stay at Gundicha Ghar, in a striking resemblance to the car festival at Puri, Parvati comes on the 3rd day to express her indignation as she was not made to accompany her consort Lord Lingaraja in the car. She breaks (the priests of Parvati act for this scene) a portion of the car and goes back to the temple. On the fifth day, the three deities start the return jouney called Bahuda. While returning, the car is drawn to the temple from the back side. (The car does not take a turn. The altar of the deities is only changed). Hence, the saying in Oriya : Rukuna Ratha analeuta i.e., the car of of Rukuna or Rukmini (Rukmini and Basudeva also sit in the car along with Chandra Sekhar) never turns back. When Lingaraja is about to enter the sanctuary, Parvati shuts the door and a mock quarrel takes place between the two parties of priests on behalf of Lingaraja and Parvati. However, Parvati is pacified later on and allows the deities to enter the temple. Thus the festival ends.
The car is known as Debadalana. It is also called Rukuna Rath. On the day of Basanta Panchami, the 5th day in the bright fortnight of Magha (January-February) the Bauri Sebakas are honoured with new clothes and eight days before the Siva Ratri festival they go to the forest, cut the selected trees, and bring the logs to the temple ceremonially. The construction of the car begins after the Siva Ratri festival. It is a four-wheeled car of disc-wheels. The four sides of the car are decorated with wood-carved images of Surya, Baruna, Indra, Agni, Durga, Siva, Yama and Kartikeya. The flag bears the emblem of Ardhachandra. Two pairs of wooden horses in their riding posture are tied in front of the car. The height of the car is about 35 feet (10.6680 metres), the diametre of the wheel is 9 feet (2.7432 metres), the diametre of the axle is 22 inches (0.5588 metres), the thickness of the wheel is about 10 inches (0.2540 metres), and the distance between the two wheels is about 10 feet (0.2540 metres). The cover-cloth of the car is of four colours, viz., yellow, red, white and blue.Management of the Temple :
The temple is now under the management of a Trust Board, consisting of a President and eight nominated members. The Executive Officer, an Officer belonging to O.A.S. cadre and who is on deputation from the Office of Collector, Khurda is the ex-officio Secretary of the Trust Board. He is assisted by an Addl.Executive Officer of O.A.S.cadre.Development works
The temple percinct, the main temple, and the Parvati temple have been electrified, the inauguration of which took place on the 14th January, 1967. The conservation work of the temple is under the supervision of the Archaeological Department, Government of India.
Source : Orissa District Gazetteers (PURI), 1977