Sri Jagannath is the Lord of the
Universe. His kitchen is considered as the largest and the biggest kitchen in
the world. It is situated south-east direction of the outer compound of
Srimandir. The length of the kitchen is 150 feet, breadth is 100 feet and
height is about 20 feet. It consists of 32 rooms with 250 earthen ovens within
these. Around 600 cooks (Suaras) and 400 assistants serve here everyday for
preparing Lord's food.
There are three types of hearths in
the kitchen of Srimandir such as Anna Chuli, Ahia Chuli and Pitha Chuli. The
dimension of hearths where rice is prepared are 4' x 2.5' x 2'. The rectangular
space created between two rice hearths is called Ahia. All types of Dal and
Curry items are cooked in Ahia Chuli. There are only ten numbers of Pitha Chuli
in the temple kitchen which are made of cement. The fire of this kitchen is
known as Vaishnava Agni, because it is the fire in the kitchen of Lord
Jagannath and used to serve Vishnu Himself. It is never put out.
It is believed that Mahalaxmi cooks in
the kitchen Herself; all are felt to be Her servants. As she is not attentive
to the cooking on the days when Lord Jagannath is said to be sick before Rath
Yatra, the food is less tasty. During Ratha Yatra when Lord Jagannath is in Sri
Gundicha Temple, She is said to have no zeal to cook and so the food is
tasteless. It is also said that if mother Laxmi is displeased with the
preparations by the cooks, a dog will appear mysteriously on the temple
grounds. If the dog is seen, all the food must be buried and prepared again. As
no dog is allowed to enter the temple, this dog is said to be Kutama Chandi, a
tantric goddess in charge of purification of food.
Four types of cooking are prepared in
the kitchen of Srimandir. Those are Bhimapaka, Nalapaka, Souripaka and
Gouripaka. The items of Bhimapaka consist Badatiana, Gudakhuara, Pakala Nadia
Rasa, Purapitha, Biripitha and Gudakanji. In Nalapaka, items like Sakara,
Tianalapara, Adanga and different types of sweet drinks are prepared. Souripaka
items include Mahura, Deshialubhaja, Kadalibhaja, Adapachedi, Ghialabanga and
varieties of cakes. In Gouripaka, Mugatiana, Leutia, Kosala and Madhura Lalita
Saga items are cooked.
In the kitchen of Srimandir, four
types of rice are prepared. These are Salianna, Khiraanna, Dadhianna and
Sitalaanna. Sunakhila rice cooks along with ghee and Phalatabha Kharada Lavana
to get Salianna. For getting Khiraanna alongwith Basumati rice; cow milk, ghee
and Kharada Lavana are mixed and cooked. Similarly plain rice mixed with curd;
Dadhianna is prepared and rice mixed with Tabharasa and Kharada Lavana;
Sitalaanna is prepared.
The food in the temple kitchen is
prepared in such a pure way and with deep devotion; great spiritual impact is
felt, both by those who cook and those who eat. The unique feature is that,
clay pots are placed in a special earthen oven, five in numbers, one on the top
of another. Yet the one on the top is cooked first.
There are two wells in the temple
complex for the purpose of supplying water to the kitchen. These are named as
Ganga and Jamuna and both are near the kitchen itself. The radius of the wells
is more than 10 feet and depth is 100 feet each.
All the necessary commodities for the
temple kitchen are brought from Mahalaxmi Bhandar, which runs by Suara Nijoga
Cooperative Society. The earthen pots used for cooking foods are provided by
Kumbhakara Nijoga Society. The potters of Kumbharapara and nearby areas supply
these pots the temple kitchen. The required timber for the kitchen was
previously supplied from different forests of the State. But after
nationalisation of forests, the State Forest Corporation is providing timbers
for cooking purpose.
Daily 5,000 persons may be fed, but
on big festival days, one to ten million may be accommodated. The temple
kitchen of Lord Jagannath is therefore considered to be the biggest hotel in
the world, serving all without reservation or previous notice.