Hera Panchami is a unique festival at the Gundicha Temple. ‘Hera’ means to ‘see’ and ‘Panchami’ means the ‘fifth day’. On the fifth day of the Rathayatra Festival, Goddess Lakshmi becomes very worried and thinks, "Where has my husband gone? He told me, I am going for a change of environment for some days, and I will return very soon. It has been five days now, and still He has not come back." She appears anxious because her husband forgets to take her. Four weary nights have already passed and Goodess Lakshmi becomes disconsolate. She goes to the Gundicha Temple on the 5th day to see Lord Jagannath. The main doors of Gundicha temple are suddenly closed with a bang. She returns with a heavy heart and in a fit of anger breaks a small part of the Nandighosa chariot (the chariot of Lord Jagannath) and returns secretly to the main temple via Hera Gohri Sahi. It is all to teach a lesson to her beloved husband.
Hera Panchami…a grand festival which takes place on 5th day from Rath Yatra. On the Rath Yatra day, Lord Jagannath leaves the temple in Jagannath Puri (representing Dwarka) and goes to Gundica temple (representing Vrindavan). Before leaving Sri Jagannathji took leave from His wife Lakshmiji and promises her that He would be back next day. But it is now 5th day and there is no news of Sri Jagannathji. So Lakshmiji calls upon her servants and prepares a well-armed party to bring back Lord Jagannath. She goes to the Gundica temple with lot of show and pomp. On reaching the temple, they start beating and arresting the servants of Lord Jagannath and then makes them promise to return the Lord worst case by next day. While returning back from Gundica temple, Mother Lakshmi’s servants attack the Nandigosh cart – the Ratha of Lord Jagannath (which brought Lord Jagannath to Gundica temple) and breaks off a small piece of cart to take back with them.
This is a very sweet pastime which is being celebrated every year at Jagannath Puri. It is unfortunate that due to work pressures and nature of our lifestyle here, we are not able to fully celebrate Rath Yatra by performing such festivals which adds to the sweet taste of Rath Yatra. I sincerely wish that a day would come when we can celebrate Gundica Marjan a day before Rath Yatra and we can do the Hera Panchami festival….but I am not sure if we want to bring back Lord Jagannath from Vrindavan to Dwarka….let the Lord enjoy with his beloved Vrajvasis. Even if we cant personally organize these festivals in detail we can atleast read about them, hear about them, and discuss about them with devotees to sooth our aching heart. The word Hera’ means ‘to see’ and ‘Panchami’ means ‘on fifth day’. So on this day, Mother Lakshmi very impatient to see her beloved Lord Jagannath, marches onto Gundica temple and creates a scene for Lord to return.
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta
In the garden along the road from the Jagannatha temple to Gundica, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed various pastimes. A brahmana named Krsnadasa performed the bathing ceremony of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Knowing that the Hera-pancami festival was drawing near, King Prataparudra attentively talked with Kasi Misra.
“Tomorrow will be the function of Hera-pancami or Laksmi-vijaya. Hold this festival in a way that it has never been held before.”
This Hera-pancami festival takes place five days after the Ratha-yatra festival. Lord Jagannatha has left His wife, the goddess of fortune, and gone to Vrndavana, which is the Gundica temple. Due to separation from the Lord, the goddess of fortune decides to come to see the Lord at Gundica. The coming of the goddess of fortune to Gundica is celebrated by Hera-pancami. Sometimes this is misspelled as Hara-pancami. The word hera means “to see” and refers to the goddess of fortune going to see Lord Jagannatha. The word pancami means “the fifth day” and is used because this takes place on the fifth day of the moon.