Situated about 60 kms away from the capital city Bhubaneshwar, Puri is a city located on the shores of Odisha. It is a city you have definitely heard about, if you have grown up in a fairly religious Hindu household. Besides its gorgeous landscape and vivid gastronomy, Puri is also renowned for the temple of Lord Jagannath which was built in 12th Century AD, moreover it is also one of the original ‘Chaar Dhama’ or Hindu pilgrimage sites. Because of the iconic Jagannatha Temple, Puri is also known as Jagganathadhama. The Temple city truly comes alive during Ratha Yatra, the time during which Lord Jagannath is carried on Ratha or wooden chariot to Gundicha Mata Temple where he rests for seven days. Millions come together to witness this spectacle and join the Yatra. The temple of Lord Jagannath has been invaded countless times, it was also under the colonial rule till the time British reigned. Despite royal families losing their prominence in modern India, the heirs of the House of Gajapati still perform various key pooja rituals.

While the Ratha Yatra is a very significant affair for Hindus, the temple is abuzz with devotees throughout the year. The Mahaprasad of Jagannath temple is also very popular among lakhs of devotees who throng the temple daily. Mahaprasads are of two types; Sankudi mahaprasad and Sukhila mahaprasad. Interestingly, the Mahaprasad  is not served during the time of Ratha Yatra, it is resumed once the deities come back to their thrones.


What Goes Into The Mahaprasad


Sankudi mahaprasad includes rice dishes like mixed rice, ghee rice, hing—ginger rice, and dishes like sweet dal, dal cooked with veggies, mixed vegetable curries, saag, bhaja or vegetable fritters, porridge, kheer etc. It is said that 56 types of prasads are offered to the deity through the day, and all the prasads are cooked in the temple kitchen, which is the largest temple kitchen in the world. These prasad items are also sent to Ananda Bazaar, a market-place located in the temple premises, from where the devotees can purchase it for their friends and family.  

Sukhila Mahaprasad, is mainly just dried sweetmeats like pedas, pithas, and barfi. These are also cooked in the temple kitchen.

The great kitchen has to capacity to cook and feed lakhs of devotees daily. The Mahaprasad is still cooked in the traditional earthen pots, like it was in ancient times. Using fire and wood as fuel. The cooked items are offered to Lord Jagannath and then to the idol of Bimala Devi, post which it becomes ‘Mahaprasad’ and served among devotees. Daily food offerings are made to Lord Jagannath, six times a day. The first offering is the breakfast or Gopala Vallabha Bhog, which comprises seven items such as curd, bananas, khua, lahuni, etc.  

 

This is followed by Sakala Dhupa around 10 am, this meal consists of about 13 items, including Mantha Puli. This meal is followed by Bada Sankhudi Bhoga,  Famous offerings comprise of Pakhala with curd and Kanji paya. The Madhyana Dhupa is the next meal in the afternoon. The following meal is referred to as Sandhya Dhupa, as it is offered in the evening (Sandhya), the meal following that is Bada Simhara Bhoga.

Everyone irrespective of their caste, creed, colour can feed on the Mahaprasad within the Temple premises.