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Lord Narasimha’s role in Jagannath Cult

Lord Narasimha’s role in Jagannath Cult. Narasimha is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Narasimha is often visualized as half-man/half-lion, having a human-like torso and lower body, with a lion-like face and claws. This image is widely worshipped in deity form by a significant number of Vaishnava groups. He is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need. Vishnu is believed to have taken the Narsimha avatar to destroy the demon king Hiranyakashipu.

Narasimha holds an important position in the Jagannath Cult. Narasimha is the guardian Deity of the temple and all the performances, from cooking to puja. Lord Narasimha is described as the protector of Lord Jagannath, and the protector of the Nandighosha chariot. It is customary that a wooden image of Narasimha after due ritual (rathpratistha), completed by the deula-purohit, the only strotriya Brahmin servitor of the temple, is to be brought with a proper procession with bijekahali and other vadyas to the chariots (Hanuman and Bhubaneswari for Balabhadra and Subhadra, respectively).

In the Nabakalebara the role of Lord Narasimha is indispensable. The new images of the Lords are to be consecrated in presence of Narasimha and trees selected for image-making are to be cut also in the presence of Narasimha. These rituals are called banajaga. In all these above rituals, Mantraraja, the Mantra of Lord Narasimha, is only to be recited by the Brahmins. Yajna- Narasimha is associated with the process of the journey of the logs of the Lord. Narasimha is one of the Vesas of the Lord on the 13th day of the month of Kartik and Lord Jagannatha is worshipped as Narasimha on the 14th day of the lunar fortnight of the month of Vaishakha (Narasimha Chaturdasi).

The initiation by a new servitor (Sadhibandha) starts with worshipping the Khamba Narasimha (image of Laxmi-Narasimha) on the first pillar of Jagamohana.

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