The Padma Vesha of Lord Jagannatha is done on any Saturday or Wednesday between the new moon day of Magha and Basanta Panchami. Prior to the month of Magha, we have the winter season when the lotus disappears from the tanks and reservoirs. But from the month of Magha onwards, these flowers reappear. The lotus signifies ‘health and wealth’ at the same time.
The lotus blossoms when the sun rises in the morning, and it is held that Laxmi (the Goddess of Wealth), moves on a fully blossomed lotus. In the fitness of things, Lord Jagannath is dressed with the “Vesha of Lotus”. The lotus is also the National Flower of India, which indicates that gifts of Nature like the lotus must be duly honoured. The Padma Vesha dress materials made of lotus, ‘sola’ lace and paper are supplied by Badachhata Matha. Pudding (Khiri) is offered to the Deities when they are in this Vesha.
The history behind this Padma Vesha is also quite enchanting. The younger brother of the last Ganga King was Mitrabhanu Dev. Mahatma Monohar Das was his revered priest. He was very famous as a devotee of Lord Jagannath throughout the State of Orissa. He was coming to Shrikshetra Puri to see Lord Jagannath after making meditation in Mahindra Hill for a long period. On the way, he came across a big pond full of lotus flowers.