125th brother of Jagannath

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By PRIYA ABRAHAM in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 29.06.08

Bhubaneswar, June 29: Three-and-a-half-year-old Yashraj Das Mohapatra is like any other child of his age. Yet he enjoys a rare privilege of being identified as the “brother” of Lord Jagannath.

The child had to offer three gold coins and five silver ones to the deity to be granted the “title” and would now be called Daitapati Yashraj Das Mohapatra confirming his inclusion into the special family of Daitapatis.

Daitapatis are a special community of sevayats who claim to be the descendants of the Lord Jagannath family and enjoy some exclusive rights and privileges.

At present, there are 125 Daitapatis who are recognised as “brothers” of the lord.

According to the tradition, the inclusion into the family can be done soon after a male child in the family completes his 25th day.

Being a “brother” of the lord also entitles them to be a claimant to the property of the deity’s property. However, the honour comes for the male members of the family alone. No female member can participate in the rituals. An offering has to be made to the lord and after a ceremony, the person is entitled to the privileges of being a Daitapati.

Every year during Rath Yatra, the Daitapati sevaks get opportunity to provide all services and worship to the lord for the period of his stay outside the temple. The legend has it that after the construction of the Jagannath temple here, Lord Jagannath was very happy with the King Indradyumna and his queen Rani Gundicha and asked them him to make a wish. The king asked the lord to make him childless as he wanted none of his family members should claim the Puri temple as their property. Impressed, Lord Jagannath promised that every year he would come as a guest to Rani Gundicha and stay in her place for nine days. All the nine days the “Daitapatis”, the heirs of Savara

King Biswabasu — the tribal king who was in possession of the deities before it was brought to the grand temple — would take charge of Lord Jagannath. The practice is still followed in Puri. This symbolises a happy blending of tribal people with the Brahmins.