Puri (pōˈrē) [key], town (1991 pop. 125,199), Odisha (Orissa) state, E central India, on the Bay of Bengal. The life of the town centers around the cult of Juggernaut (Jagannath), a form of the Krishna incarnation of Vishnu. This cult, unique in Hinduism, has no caste distinctions. The images of Juggernaut and his sister and brother repose within a vast temple compound. Every summer each statue is mounted on an enormous temple cart and dragged by hundreds of pilgrims to a summer home 1 mi (1.6 km) distant. Although pilgrims have hurled themselves to death beneath the wheels of the cart, this act, contrary to common belief, is not part of the ritual. Puri is a district administrative center. Limestone carving, toy making, fish curing, and rice milling are the main industries.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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