On the Lord of the Universe's bathing paraphernalia
Among the articles required for the daily rituals worship in the Sri Jagannath Tmple at Puri are three mirrors. The mirrors are made of brass, having no part of glass, and each is about two and half feet high. The mirrors are disc shaped and mounted on a stand. Both surfaces of the disc are well polished.
These mirrors are used at the time of abakash of the Deities, which refers to the cleaning of the teeth and bath of the Deities. This religious rite is performed subsequent to the dwaraphita, or (opening of the temple doors in the early morning), the mangala arotik and the mailam (removal of flowers, clothes, etc. decked on the Deities the previous night).
The scheduled time for abakash is at 6:30 in the morning, as specified in the "Record of Rights" of the temple. The sevaks (servitors) associated with this service are pushpalak, meaning 3 persons, and there are many such servitors: Paniapat, Suarbadu, Khatulisevak, Mukhapakhala-Padhiary, Mukhapakhala-Puspalak, Garabadu, Amla-Ghatuary, Mahabhoi, Jyotisha-Khurinayak, Bhandar-Mekap and Darpania.
The pushpalak sevaks perform the abakash ritual sitting on the floor below the ratnavedi (pedestal) in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. They sprinkle water mixed with camphor, curd, sandal paste and amla fruit paste onto the three brass mirrors placed on the floor. There is a mirror for each one of the three Deities - Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra. The mirrors symbolize the Deities taking Their bath. During the abakash rites, the temple Jyotisha (astrologer) reads out the tithi (timing) and other astrological details of the day to the Deities.
Before bath, the sevaks show toothsticks and tongue scrappers to the Deities, symbolizing the cleaning of Their teeth and tongues. One such mirror is also used in the Pushyaviseka ritual of Lord Jagannath, which is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Pausha.
There is also a ritual service known as Darpania Seva in the temple. The word 'darpan' means 'mirror' in English. The sevak of this service, Darpania Sevak, is in charge of keeping the mirrors for the rituals. He also cleans certain utensils used in the rituals, on a place called anasarapindi after mangal arotik is over.
The necessity of a mirror as on article of paraphernalia has been mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavata (book eleven). It would not be out of place to mention here that in Tibetan Buddhism, a mirror (in their parlance, adarsha) is used in their rituals. In Oriya, the words adarsha, darpana, aaina, aarisi, and mukura convey the same meaning, i.e., 'mirror'. The mirror (adarsha) of Tibetan Buddhism has a close resemblance with that of the Puri temple.