The Telegraph
Monday , February 25 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Balangir wood for chariots

Balangir, Feb. 24: Preparations for the Puri rath yatra have already begun in Balangir. The process of felling trees to collect wood for construction of the chariots began at Kanut village here yesterday.

Retired teacher and Jagannath devotee Binod Bihari Sahu had expressed his desire to donate trees for building the chariots. He had to wait three years before the temple administration gave him the go ahead. Consequently, the forest department selected 14 trees on the agricultural land of Sahu that include sahaj (asana) and dharua trees. A puja was performed on Saturday under one of the trees and four trees were felled.

Sahu had come across a newspaper advertisement in which the Puri temple administration had invited devotees to donate wood for construction of the rath yatra chariots.

“It came as a pleasant surprise as I was waiting for such an opportunity. I immediately let them know that I would like to donate trees from my land. That was three years ago. I only got permission from the temple administration to fulfil my desire this year. I feel very fortunate,” Sahu said.

On Friday, more than a hundred villagers of Kanut came in a procession to Sahu’s land. Under one of the trees there, Belpada Jagannath temple priest Krutartha Dash performed a puja to mark the beginning of felling the trees. The area reverberated with the sound of chants, the blowing of conchs, bhajan and kirtans.

“It is a great day for the villagers of Kanut. Such an opportunity comes once in a lifetime. We are really very lucky that the wood for the chariots will be from our village,” said Astama Bag, a local resident.

Kantabanji range officer Pramod Meher said the department had selected 14 tress from Sahu’s land to be felled and four had been cut so far.