Candana yatra starts on the third lunar day of the waxing moon of Vaisakha month, and continues for twenty days. Lord Jagannatha gave direct instructions to King Indradyumna to perform this festival at this time. Smearing the body of the Lord with ointments is an act of devotion, and the best of ointments is sandalwood paste. Since the month of Vaisakha is very hot in India, the cooling effect of the sandalwood is very pleasing to the body of the Lord.
Sandalwood paste is applied all over the body of Jagannatha leaving only his two eyes visible. The utsava murtis (functional Deities – Vijay utsav) are taken on procession and are placed in a boat in the temple pond. To commemorate this festival, Lord Caitanya also carried out water sports with his devotees.
Note: Special thanks to Jaya Tirtha Caran prabhu from NZ for allowing us to use some of the content from his site to compile these pages.