Rathayatra Wakes up Puri
Jul 18, PURI, ORISSA (SUN) Rathayatra festival reports from Jagannatha Puri.
The hugely majestic and colorfully decorated chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subadhra drawn by lakhs of frenzied devotees, moved along the road to Gundicha temple after the conduct of rituals associated with the world famous Rathayatra here.
The sea of humanity, as it is often described, surged forward as the deities came out of their abode to mingle with commoners and proceed on their annual sojourn to Gundicha. Amidst chants of slokas, traditional music and dance the rituals were completed almost as per schedule. The pahandi carrying the deities out of the temple, their swaying mesmerized one and all, including the foreigners for whom, it is the only chance to see the deities (entry to the temple is banned for them).
The sweeping of the chariots by Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singh Deb signifying that even the ruler is a commoner in front of the Lord was done on time. Elaborate security arrangements ~ close circuit cameras, snippers, bomb disposal squads, rapid action force, anti-terrorist teams, sniffer dogs et all were in place. No untoward incident was reported except for an abandoned briefcase which caused a flutter and had the bomb disposal squad at work. It turned out to be an empty suitcase.
While the overcast weather condition prevailed for most part of the day, towards evening it started to rain but all that made little difference to the devotees. The chariots of Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra had reached their destination but that of Lord Jagannath had not. It will be resumed tomorrow morning said officials. In fact, this has provided further opportunity to lakhs of devotees to have darshan of the deity’s right through the night. Everything was on a huge and grand scale befitting the Lord as it is believed that a dharshan of the deities on the chariot or even touching the ropes of chariot washes away all sins. Several dignitaries, including Governor Rameshwar Thakur, chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik and members of his Cabinet, judges of High Court, witnessed the Rathayatra. [The Statesman]
Chariots get a new look
Baripada is gearing up to celebrate the 432-year-old Rath Yatra on Monday when at least a lakh pilgrims are likely to throng the ‘Bada Danda’ (grand road) leading to the Jagannath Temple.
The massive chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra will get a fresh look for the first time from this year, said Ajay Kumar Nayak, Executive Officer-cum-Trustee of Baripada Debottar Department. The top structures shall have a grand ornate look and like the Puri chariots, they will be covered with Pipili’s applique art work.
The cloth coverings were made by the local artisans of Pipili who visited Baripada and took the measurements of all the three chariots, Nayak added. Another new introduction in the Baripada festival will be the coir ropes supplied by Coir Corporation of Kerala, Nayak said, adding these ropes will be strong enough to ensure safe pulling of the chariots.
The 84-foot six-inch high majestic temple with exquisite designs engraved on its walls was built by Maharaja Baidyanath Bhanj Deo, who ruled from the state from 1556-1600 AD. Legend has it that he had been to Puri for a darshan of Lord Jagannath but could not have it as he failed to offer the quantity of gold coins demanded.
There is yet another version of the legend. When the Maharaja went to Puri in royal splendour accompanied by ‘chhatra’ and ‘chamor’, the Gajapati of Puri did not allow him to enter the city as he reflected higher status over him. It was the prevailing custom that pilgrims to Puri were to go there as ordinary men without show of supremacy over the Gajapati, who was considered as the ‘Chalanti Bishnu’ in those days.
The Maharaja went into penance near the Atharanala on the outskirts of Puri. In a dream, he was ordered by the Lord to construct a temple at Baripada. The temple was constructed in 1575 AD with laterite stone. All the rituals, as in Puri, are observed for Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Goddess Subhadra at the temple.
God’s ancient shelter to be renovated in Berhampur
There are no deities, but rituals are regularly performed in the Marda temple near Mathura village in Polosara block, about 50 km from Berhampur.
The temple sheltered Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra for over two years more than two centuries back. Over the years, ravages of time and apathy of the officials concerned have left this temple on the verge of extinction.
But this year, the temple got some attention due to efforts of the Puri Jagannath temple management committee. A highlevel team from Puri recently visited Marda temple, well known as ‘Sarana Srikhetra’, to establish religious links between the ‘Srikhetra’, the abode of Lord Jagannath, and its other related places.
The team also installed a ‘Nilachakra Dhwaja’ (flag) at the top of the temple as a symbol of recognition of direct religious links between the ‘Srikhetra’ and ‘Sarana Srikhetra’.
According to legends, the idols of Jagannath temple were shifted to Marda on December 29, 1733 and the deities were kept in Marda temple for over two years. The then architects of the village had created a cave-shaped temple for the idols to hide them from the invaders. The name of the then king of Athagadapatna, Jagannath Harichandan, who had built the rock temple at Marda to protect the deities, is still remembered during rituals at the Puri temple.
The temple was constructed using stones of nearby Hatibari mountain. Historians informed that the temple was built in two phases. While the first phase was completed in one night, the second phase was over in two months. The temple which was constructed as a replica of the Puri temple, looks like a small hill from distance. During the temporary stay of the deities, regular rituals including the Rath Yatra were observed at the temple.
To protect the three deities from Muslim invader Taki Khan’s attack during 1733, the then Gajapati of Puri Ramchandra Deb placed the deities at Chadehibuda hill on the banks of Chilika lake, Chapalihatibana, Kujangagada, Kapileswarpur, Gopalpur, Tikali, Gajapada, Balangir, Manitrigada and finally at Marda temple when the area was under Athagada king. On the request of Puri Gajapati, the Athagada king constructed the temple. [NewIndiaPress]