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Balagandi

Balagandi is a place in between Jagannath Temple and Gundicha Mandir.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu pastimes in Balagandi:

When they reached the place called Balagandi, Lord Jagannatha stopped His car and began to look left and right. On the left side, Lord Jagannatha saw a neighbourhood of brahmanas and a coconut-tree grove. On the right side, He saw nice flower gardens resembling those in the holy place Vrindavan. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees were dancing in front of the car, and Lord Jagannatha, having stopped the car, watched the dancing. It was customary that food be offered to the Lord at vipra-shasana. Indeed, innumerable dishes of food were offered, and Lord Jagannatha tasted each one of them. All kinds of devotees of Lord Jagannatha—from neophytes to the most advanced—offered their best cooked food to the Lord. These devotees included the King, his queens, his ministers and friends and all other big and small residents of Jagannatha Puri. All the visitors who had come from different countries to Jagannatha Puri, as well as the local devotees, offered their personally cooked food to the Lord. The devotees offered their food everywhere—in front of the car and behind it, on the two sides and within the flower garden. Wherever possible, they made their offering to the Lord, for there were no hard and fast rules. While the food was being offered, a large crowd of people gathered. At that time Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stopped His dancing and went to a nearby garden. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu entered the garden and, immersed in great ecstatic emotion, fell flat on a raised platform there. The Lord was very much fatigued from the hard labour of dancing, and there was perspiration all over His body. He therefore enjoyed the fragrant, cool breeze of the garden. All the devotees who had been performing sankirtana came there and took rest under each and every tree.

Ref >> Sri Chaitanya Caritamurta, Madhya lila, 13.193-204.

Presently in Balagandi, this Prasadam distribution tradition is continued by the followers of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Many devotees are served with sumptuous prasadam during the Ratha Yatra and other important festivals by the Hare Krishna Movement. A full meal comprising of rice, dalma, papad, pickle & kheer is distributed during these festivals. Free meals (consisting of rice and dalma, lentils with varieties of vegetables) are provided every day from 12 noon to 1 PM to people who are below the poverty line.

Akshayapatra, which is located in the same place Balagandi, started the Mid-day meal program in March 2000. About 2 tonnes of vegetables, 2.5 tonnes of dal and 4 tonnes of rice are cooked each and every day in Akshayapatra. Akshayapatra menu includes traditional recipes from Jagannath Temple such as moong dalma, masala dalma, channa dalma, special kheer(sweet rice). Also it provides varieties like paneer subji, savouries and pickle. Prasadam is distributed to school children in and around the Puri town. The hygienically prepared food is packed and sealed in hot stainless steel vessels. It is then distributed using custom made vehicles to 50,481 children across 436 schools, within 50 kms radius of Puri town. Also 30,209 children across 369 schools are served prasadam in  other rural areas of Odisha.

 

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