At least 200,000 devotees gathered in the temple town of Puri on Saturday to witness the bathing of three Hindu deities, a ritual that precedes the famous Rath Yatra.
Known as Snana Yatra, it is a major event in the temple's calendar ahead of the Rath Yatra or chariot festival that is
scheduled to begin this year on July 16 in Puri, 56 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.
As a part of bathing rituals, the three idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra were taken out from the sanctum sanctorum of the 12th century Jagannath temple by priests amid chanting of mantras and playing of musical instruments including drums and cymbals.
The deities were taken to Snan Bedi or bathing altar located within the temple complex and bathed with 108 pitchers of aromatic water drawn out from a temple well known as golden well, said the temple's public relations officer Laxmidhar Pujapanda.
The deities were then dressed in hathi vesha, or elephant attire, and taken to a 'sick room' where they are to stay for a fortnight.
According to the legend, the gods are said to suffer from fever during this period and "will be treated with herbal medicines by temple doctors," Pujapanda said.
"This year, at least 200,000 devotees from across the state witnessed the bathing rituals and the elephant attire," he added.