Chhera Pahanra is a ritual performed by the king of Odisha every year during the festival of rathayatra.This is an Odia word where “Chhera” is Sprinkling of holy water and “Panhara” is sweeping thus Chhera Panhara is sweeping of while sprinkling holy water.After the idols of the lords are installed on the chariots the king sweeps the chariots of lords with a golden broom.Then he worships lord by performing an aarati after which the holy journey starts.
This ritual is performed to show the devotion of the head of the state to the lord.It is a very old ritual .With time the ritual has changed.Earlier the king used to sweep the street before the chariots as it used to proceed but with time the ritual has changed and now the kings sweep the chariots only.

Well why this change has occured? There is an interesting story regarding this.It is said that years ago a King of Puri, Purusottama Dev, was to marry a princess who was the daughter of king, Maharaja Sallwo Narasingha, from the district of Kanchi. When the Ratha-Yatra festival was to take place, the father of the princess was invited.

But the king didn’t come instead he sent his minister . When he attended rathayatra, the King of Puri was performing Chhera Panhara.The minister, rather than being impressed with the devotion of the King for Lord Jagannatha, did not approve of him sweeping the road.

When he reported this to King Sallwo Narasingha, the king objected to the idea of his daughter marrying the King of Puri since he was merely a street sweeper. Purusottama Dev on learning this got angry and thought of teaching a lesson .So he attacked Kanchi. Unfortunately, King Purusottama Dev was badly defeated.

On his way back to Puri , he stopped at the cottage of Saikatacharya, a devotee of Lord Jagannatha. Saikatacharya pointed out that the King had forgotten to ask permission from Lord Jagannatha before he went to attack King Sallwo. With this realization, the King returned to Puri and visited the temple of the Lord. He spent the night in the temple, and with doors closed, before the night came to an end, the King heard a voice asking why he was so distraught over such a simple thing. The voice said to go gather his troupes again, and that we two brothers, Jagannatha and Balarama, would go along to fight on the King’s behalf. As the news spread, many people, both old and young, joined the King’s forces to fight with Their Lordships. However, as they went, the King was filled with some doubts if its going to be true or just an illusion.

While the King and his army went onward, far ahead were two soldiers that rode on one black horse and one white horse. They stopped to quench their thirst at a small village near Chilika Lake by buying some yogurt from a devotee named Manika. She offered them yogurt, but when she asked for money, they said they had no money. Instead they gave her a jeweled ring and told her to give it to King Purusottama Dev, who would then give her money.

After some time, the King caught up to the lady, who flagged him down to give him the ring and asked for money for the soldiers’ drink. The king was shocked to see the ratnamudrika ring of Lord Jagannatha and then regained his confidence that, indeed, Their Lordships had certainly come with him. In payment for the ring, the king gave her the whole village, which is still named Manikapatna. After this the king and his troupes were victorious over King Sallwo, and he also took King Sallwo’s daughter as well.

However, he did not marry her after the insult her father had given him. He instructed his minister to see that she got married to a qualified sweeper. After one year, at the next Ratha-Yatra, the King again performed his sweeping ceremony. At that time, the king’s minister announced that the king was the most qualified sweeper, since he swept for Lord Jagannatha, and that the princess, Padmavati, should marry him. Then Maharaja Purusottama Dev married the princess. At some point after this, the King of Puri discontinued sweeping the streets and now sweeps the carts.


This entry was posted in Jagannath Culture. Bookmark the permalink.