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Sri Chandan Yatra

Candana Yatra is a festival during the hot season in India in which the Deities are covered with sandalwood paste (candana) to cool Them. (This is generally impractical in the West, where it is cold during this time.)

For 21 days with the Utsava Vigrahas covered in chandan. The Deities are covered completely with chandan(sandalwood paste), which provides the Lord relief from the scorching heat of summer in the month of Vaisakha/Jyestha (May/June).

Once, Lord Jagannatha instructed the ancient King Indradyumna to perform this festival on this occasion. Smearing the body of the Lord with ointments is an act of devotion, and the best of balms is said to be sandalwood paste. Since heat in the month of Vaisakha is extreme in India, the cooling effect of sandalwood paste would be pleasing to the Lord.

Sandalwood paste is applied all over the body of Lord Jagannatha leaving only his two eyes exposed. The Utsava Vigrahas (functional Deities – Vijay Utsav) are taken on procession and placed in a boat in the temple pond. To commemorate this festival, Lord Caitanya also performed water sport with his devotees.

Chandan yatra is said to have been celebrated first on the day when Treta-yuga began. Sages and devotees perform homa (yajna) during this holy occasion. Usually barley is used as a major ingredient for homa. Ganga Devi is said to have descended to earth on this day. People also perform special puja on the occasion of this holy day. Bathing in a holy river, offering charity, performing japa and fire sacrifices, offering barley in sacred fire, and preparations of delicious food using barley are common celebrations among the people.

In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas lived in disguise in the palace of King Virata during their Ajnatavasa. After Bhima killed Kichaka, King Virata realised that the Pandavas were living in his palace. The king felt proud of them and made strong bonds of friendship with them. Once, the king expressed his desire to have a darshan of Lord Krishna with the Pandavas. Yudhisthira then advised the king to organise a boat journey in a lake for the amusement of Lord Krishna in summer months.