With the end of Kartika month approaching, the last five days, known as Bhishma Panchaka, are considered very auspicious for worshipping Lord Krishna. As such, our Jagannatha temple in Bhadrak always sees a large increase in the attendance by devotees for the evening arati during these last five days, culminating in Kartika Purnima.
For the entire month of Kartika, the devotees perform worship of Lord Damodara, as instructed in Skanda Purana, by offering lamps to the Lord and singing the prayers known as Damodarashtaka, which were composed by Sage Satyavrata Muni.
Bhishma Panchaka are the five days that Bhishma fasted while laying on the bed of arrows, preparing to leave his body. These five days are considered especially powerful for spiritual advancement, so devotees generally observe fasts and austerities, while increasing their worship and contemplation on Lord Krishna.
The last day, Kartika Purnima, is considered one of the most important days in the Hindu calendar. Each year on this day several thousand devotees will come to our temple for circumambulating Lord Jagannath. Once a year on this day, we allow the public to enter the garbhagriha and perform pradakshina of the Lord at very close distance. This year Kartika Purnima will fall on November 25th, 2015.
In the Puranas it is said:
“In the month of Kartika, which is very dear to Sri Hari, one who bathes early in the morning attains the merit of bathing in all places of pilgrimage. Anybody who offers the Lord a ghee lamp in the month of Kartika becomes free from all kinds of sins, such as brahmahatya, and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari, Sri Vaikunta.”
“If anyone fasts and observes the Kartika vrata according to proper rules and regulations, the Yamadutas (the messengers of Yamaraja) run away from him, just as an elephant runs away by seeing a lion. This vrata to Lord Vishnu is even better than performing one hundred great sacrifices that would take him to heaven because the person who observes the Kartika vrata goes to the spiritual world or Sri Vaikuntha.”
Below are a few photos from the first day of Bhishma Panchaka during the evening arati at our Jagannatha temple in Bhadrak, Orissa.