In Odia, hera means ‘to see’. That is why, the ritual of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Jagannath seeing each other on the fifth day from the rath yatra is known as Hera Panchami. It is a very special ritual for the devotees.
The Goddess is seated in front of Lord Jagannath in the sanctum where she is offered special prayers by servitor Pati Mohapatra. The ritual represents the request of the Goddess to Lord Jagannath to return to the temple. As a reply, Lord Jagannath gives an agyan mala which the goddess carries on her way back to her temple.
As the Goddess is upset about the fact that her husband left her behind and went on a vacation with his siblings (Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra), she wishes to show her anger. After breaking a portion of the chariot, her idol is first carried to a tamarind tree outside the Gundicha temple behind which she hides for some time. Then she is carried to the Jagannath temple through a secret passage in the Hera Gohri Lane to avoid any fuss because of the attack on the chariot.
This year in 2012, Hera Panchami took place on 25th June (Monday).
Just as human beings beautify their faces for a big occasion, the sibling deities also get braced up for Hera Panchami. Fresh coats of painting were applied two days before Rath Yatra.
Herbal products like hartala, hengula, karpura, kasturi and kaintha gum were used for the facial. According to sources, nine servitors were engaged in beautifying the faces of the deities with the mixture of the herbal paints. The practice continued for nearly seven hours.
According to sources, the painting of the lord’s face is done for nearly seven times a year, besides on the occasion of car festival.