Today in Puri He, the Lord of the Universe travels in some style from his temple in Puri, to his garden temple, located outside the town centre called Gundicha. Thousands of Hindus flock to see, and to pull the grand chariots from one temple to the other. The English word "Jagannaut" comes from the giantchariots of Lord Jagannath of Puri. The British were so stunned by the size of the chariots, they coined a word for it!
In Puri, Lord Jagannath is worshipped with his elder brother Bala-Rama and his sister Subhadra. Each sibling has his / her own chariot and goes to the summer residence with great pomp. Each of the chariots is covered in distinctly coloured cloth. Various symbols and signs help pilgrims distinguish between the three gods. As a mark of respect, and humbleness, the king of Puri sweeps the chariots of the Gods of Puri. Festival begins with a huge fanfare of conches, trumpets, drums and cymbals. Accompanied by music and dancers, the divine travellers begin their journey to the garden temple.
In order to accommodate the three chariots, the street leading from the main temple to the garden temple is very wide. Temples, ashrams, hotels, inns, shops and mansions of the old aristocracy line the route. All buildings are colourfully decorated with flags, buntings and awnings of bright colours. Ladies in colourful saries crowd the balconies, doors and windows decked with flowers. Men and women rush to pullthe chariots along this main street of Puri. This is an exciting time in Puri. The Lord who is rarely glimpsed outside his inner sanctum, is now easily accessible to everyone in the streets of Puri !
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, away from the innumerable temple servants, away from their spouses, the siblings enjoy their "Vrindavan-like" garden retreat. The temple routine in the garden temple is very much relaxed compared to the main temple. Various festivities and fun are planned for their short stay in this leafy abode. ( Depending on the lunar cycle, this festival can last anywhere from 1 - 2 weeks. )
As the Lord has only taken his brother and his sister on this holiday, the wives are left at home! Alone and brooding, Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth), seeks help from Goddess Vimala to get their husband back. Travelling by night, in a closed palanquin, she arrives at the garden temple of the Lord. She enchantsthe Lord and entreats him to return.
A few days later, Lord returns to his city temple. Though delighted, goddess Lakshmi orders the temple doors to be shut in His face - in the vain hope of teaching Him a lesson! In the conversation that follows, female attendants (dev-dasi) of the Goddess blame the Lord of being inconsiderate, "Jack the Lad", taking His wife for granted and being far too easily led by the in-laws (sounds familiar?).