The Costumes or Besha of Lord Jagannath symbolize various cultural and religious syntheses in the shrine. Everyday from early morning to night the deities on the Ratnavedi wear different attires made of cotton and silk fabrics, Gold Ornaments studded with precious stones, flowers of different varieties, tulsi leaves etc. Sandal paste, camphor and some times musks are used in the daily and periodical rituals.
The sevaks of temple who dress the deities with clothing and flowers are known as Puspalaks or Singharis.
The 32 Besha or costumes of the deities are mentioned below.
1. Abakasha (Tadapa Uttari) Vesha
This Vesha is done everyday after Mangal Aarati for the Abakash rituals. The clothes which are worn by the deities for this purpose are known as “Tadapa” and “Uttariya”.
This Vesha are the normal costumes of deities which they wear five times in a day, especially after each food offering. This Vesha comprises silken clothes and flower garlands.
3. Bada Singhar Vesha
The most important decoration of the day is the Bada Singhara Besha. It is done every night before the Ratri Pahuda (last ritual).
On the full moon day in the month of Jyestha, after the bathing ceremony is over, the deities are dressed like elephants. Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra appear like Ganesh(the Elephant God).
The famous besha takes place on Asadha Sukla Ekadasi Tithi (the 11th day of the bright fortnight in Asadha) when the deities are in their respective chariots in front of the Lions Gate of Shree Jagannatha Temple on their return journey from Car Festival. This Besha is also known as ‘Bada Tadhau Besha’.
8. Pralambasura Badha Besha
This Vesha is celebrated on Bhadrav Krushna Dwadasi every year. This Vesha commences after the completion of Madhyana Bhoga. This Vesha commemorates to killing of Demon Pralamba by God Balaram during the incarnation of Krishna. This Vesha is made on Balabhadra only while Jagannath & Subhadra remain in their normal attire.
9. Krushna Balaram Besha
On Bhadraba Sukla Dwadasi Tithi (the 12th day of the bright fortnight in Bhadraba), Shri Jagannatha is dressed as like Bamana the incarnation of Bishnu. Notably, Baman is the fifth incarnation of Lord Bishnu.
11. Radha Damodar Besha
From the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Ashwina to the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, this vesha takes place.
This besha is also known as ‘Thiakia Besha’. It is done on the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika. It is stated that the worship of Lakshmi and Narayana has gained popularity in Jagannatha consciousness, since the visit of Ramanuja, the great religious preacher to this holy land of Shreekshetra Puri.
It is done on Karttika Sukla Dwadasi Tithi (the 12th day of the bright fortnight in Karttika). This is similar to that of Lakshmi-Narayan Besha with addition of golden headgear.
This Besha is also known as ‘Tribikram Besha’. It is done on Karttika Sukla Trayodasi (the 13th day of the bright fortnight in Karttika).
This besha is observed on 14th day of Kartika Sukla fortnight in every year. The Deities are adorned with golden crowns on their heads and different types of bids.
Ghodalagi means specially designed winter dresses for the deities installed at ‘Ratnasinghasan’. During the period from the 6th day of the bright fortnight of Margasira to the 5th day of the bright fortnight of Magha (Basanta Panchami Tithi), the deities wear winter clothes.
On every day the deities adorned with Chandana laggi Besha after evening Dhupa, schedule time of this Besha is 10 P.M . The attendants apply Chandan (Sandal Paste) on the body of the deities. During this besha, the other attendant also present with sticks in their hands as a rite and offers betel to the deities.
23. Nabank Besha
At evening time the deities wear garlands made of Tulasi (Basil) leaves. The attire is long cloth with red colored border. Similar colored clothes are folded to form a turban over their heads. This attire of the Lord Jagannath is supposed to have been started by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and is taken by the Lord on the previous day of the Makar Sankranti.
The installation of the Triad Deities in the temple complex is believed to have been done on the full moon day of the month of Pausa (Dec-Jan). The Pausa Abhisek is done to commemorate the occasion.The deity appears like a regal emperor in full pomp attired in golden robes and garlands of different flower.
The Lord is adorned in this Vesha in the month of Chaitra. In this Vesha, Lord Jagannath is adorned like Lord Shri Ram. He holds a bow and an arrow in the Vesha. Lakshman, Bharat, Shatrughna and Hanuman are made of solapith and wooden twigs and are displayed on the Ratnasinghasana. This Vesha is discontinued now.
27. Naba Jaubana Besha
Naba Jaubana Darshana is The Holy Sight of Juvenile Youth of Lord Jagannath. As Lord Jagannath falls ill after taking heavy bath during the Snaana Purnimaa (The Bathing Full Moon) and retires into the Anasara Ghara (The House of Rest). After a full fortnight’s treatment with herbs, complete rest and dieting; the Lord gets back his juvenile youth and He looks as enticing as ever.
Every year, between Phalguna Sukla Dashami to Chaturdasi, for five days, the deities are decorated with Chacheri Vesha. This Vesha commences during mid day. First Sandal Paste is applied on the bodies of deities. Special quality of cloths namely Bairani & Madhabali etc. are offered to Deities. The deities adorned with four ear rings locally called Kundala and two Tadagis.
29. Raja Besha
This besha takes place on Vijaya Dashami Tithi (Dasahara) in the month of Aswina. Jagannatha was regarded as the King of Odisha since the rule of Ganga dynasty and this Besha of Shree Jagannatha continues from those days.
During the time span of the Radha-Damodar Besha of Shree Jagannatha on each Monday, Harihara Besha of Lord Shree Balabhadra is done for a fortnight, i.e. from the darkmoon day till the fullmoon day.
31. Raja Rajeswar Besha
This Besha takes place on Kartika Purnima Tithi (fullmoon day of Karttika). Large numbers of devotees are allowed to go up to Ratnasinghasan and have a darshan of the above gorgeous Besha of the Lords and be blessed themselves.
This Vesha is observed on the 14th day of Shukla Paksha of Margasir Month. In accordance with Hindu culture, three deities offer Shradha Tarpan to their parents Nanda & Vasudev . On this day He also offers light (deepa) to King Indradyumna who built the temple as per legend. On this occasion Sri Jagannath wears 27 feet long cloth, Balabhadra 21 feet long cloth and Subhadra 18 feet long cloth. Their heads are covered with Sirikapada (a special form of cloth). This Vesha is observed before Chandan Lagi Vesha.