| Servitors carry flowers from Jagannath temple in Puri to inaugurate the chariot-making process on Tuesday. Picture by Sarat Patra |
Bhubaneswar, April 24: The ritualistic permission was granted today to the carpenters of the Trinity’s chariots to commence work on the occasion of Akshay Tritiya. Within 60 days, the artisans will make the chariots ready for rath yatra with the logs of wood that have been piled on Grand Road in Puri.
On Saraswati Puja or Basant Panchami, the logs were procured for the rath yatra chariots and ever since those have been kept on the road at Ratha Khala near the temple. The carpenters are allowed to start work only after the garland of permission or aagyan mala is sought from Lord Jagannath.
“Every year, we begin the chariots’ construction after a grand ceremony held on this auspicious day. Special prayers are offered to cleanse the wood and then we peel the bark off the log to symbolise the beginning of construction,” said Bijay Kumar Mohapatra, who belongs to the Biswakarma sevayat or carpenter servitors family and is the chief carpenter of the Nandighosha (Lord Jagannath’s chariot).
Three sets of teams will work on the three chariots — Nandighosha, Taladhwaja (Lord Balabhadra’s chariot) and Debadalana (Lord Subhadra’s chariot). Different portions of the chariots will be completed by different auspicious dates that are considered as deadlines for the carpenters.
“The chariots are built with the sheer expertise of the artisans, who may not be engineers or hold technical degrees, but have the accuracy of measurements that they have learnt from their forefathers. The measurements for the construction are done with the carpenters’ arms and fingers. It is amazing when you get to see the perfect final structure. It is called haatha anguli maapa,” said Ramachandra Das Mohapatra, a daitapati (one of the chief servitors) and a member of the Rath Construction Committee.
Around 400 artisans work on different departments such as ironsmiths, painters, tailors and so on to build the chariots.
On the inaugural day of the construction, hundreds of devotees thronged Ratha Khala where the construction will continue.
“It is a matter of fortune to be able to touch the wood that turns into the deities’ chariots. I may not get a chance to touch it again, so I ensured to be here to see the inaugural ceremony of the rath construction. Moreover, today the chandan yatra of the deities began. It is an auspicious day,” said Sarmistha Raut, a devotee.
The chandan yatra will continue for 22 days.
The wheels of the chariots will be ready and fitted into their axes on Bhaunri, a couple of weeks from now.