Juggernaut (Jagannatha), a form of the Hindu god Vishnu's incarnation Krishna, is worshiped at the religious city of Puri in India. A temple to Juggernaut there dates from the A . D . 1100s. According to one legend, a priest chose the site for the temple when he saw a crow dive into the nearby Bay of Bengal. Inside the temple is a horrifying wooden image of Juggernaut with a black face and a gaping mouth as red as blood.

incarnation appearance of a god, spirit, or soul in earthly form

Several festivals are held at the temple each year, the most important being the Chariot Festival in midsummer. On this occasion, the image of Juggernaut is placed on a 60-foot-high cart and pulled through the town by hundreds of people. Occasionally worshipers have thrown themselves beneath the wheels of the cart to be crushed as a sacrifice to Jagannatha. This practice gave rise to the English word juggernaut, meaning a person or power that crushes anything in its path.

See also Hinduism and Mythology ; Krishna .

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