Our (i.e. All Odias’) love for our home deity, Lord Jagannath, does not come from a fear of the Almighty – someone who is busy running the universe and hence has no time for us – but from the cultural stance that introduces Him to us as a key member of our family. We know He runs the universe since the day He created it; but He is omnipotent, hence can manage to pay us individual attention besides governing the universe even when His creation has gone errant and contributed towards the anarchy.
When you can manage, plan a visit to His main abode, the Jagannath Temple at Puri, which is also famous for its scenic beach, in Odisha. You may notice the devotees standing in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum crying, complaining, speaking aloud, showing many types of human emotions that you would expect them to show when they meet their friends and family members. Don’t get flummoxed by such scenes. They do so just because they feel He is the only family member who they can confide in whatever they cannot do with other members however close they are to them. He would listen to them, come what may, and would share their joys and sorrows often unconditionally.
Lord Jagannath, fondly called as Kalia (meaning ‘black’ in the Odia language) due to His body complexion, is perhaps the most human among all the Hindu gods. He has His daily chores done. He has his staple foods like us for lunch and dinner. He too rests at night like we do. Someone may ask, does He fall sick any time if He is so human-being-like? Believe it or not, He does fall sick once a year and takes bed rest for a few days when under medication. (Interestingly, the Ayurvedic medicines are prepared from the medicinal plants grown inside His temple premise.) That is perhaps the only time when He takes off from His professional life to recuperate faster. And when He is fit and fine, He comes back with a surprise visit to the devotees’ place. All through the year, we the devotees visit His abode to meet and talk to Him. But once in a year, during the Car Festival, popularly known as the Ratha Jatra, He comes out to our abode to meet us. That’s how He shows that He is one among us, and not someone unreachable, or someone who sits glued to His throne.
Many of us believe, this juggernaut of Lord Jagannath is what makes this universe run!