Hand-drawn carts bring holy timber to Puri temple

Hand-drawn carts bring holy timber to Puri temple

It is still the age-old ‘Sagadis’ or wooden carts that transport the timbers to the Jagannath Temple in Puri to fashion the three presiding deities for the famous Puri car festival.

No trucks automatically empty the heavy logs from the flatbed with a pull of the lever, but the creaking wooden carts that does the job. Tradition permeates every aspect of organising the festival at Puri, unlike other shrines that moved with the times and modernised.

Besides the forms of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, the timber is also used to sculpt Sudarshan, an important ‘side’ deity at the Rat Yatra.

After a 19 year gap, the shrine would celebrate Nabakalebara festival ahead of the annual Yatra, when the four wooden deities will be replaced with the new ones.
The logs of wood that goes into making Sudarshan and Balabhadra have been brought to Puri on Sagadis, while the clumps used to shape the principal deity Jagannath and his sister Subhadra are yet to reach the temple town.

Specially designated carpenters make the Sagadis right at the spot where they find the holy timbers for the logs to make the idols, which differ each year.

This year, the timbers for Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra were located in the coastal Jagatsinghpur district, while the wood for Sudarshan was located in a village in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.

After a series of rituals involving bathing of the timbers and the carts, the Sagadis begin their slow crawl to the shrine and take several days to reach there.

Rather than harnessed to bullocks or horses, Sagadis are hand drawn, mostly by devotees and security personnel accompanying them. Thousands throng the route to watch them make their way to Puri.

Steering clear of the temptations of modern transportation, the temple authorities have stuck to the tradition largely to retain the purity and piety that goes into selecting the timbers.

Devotees are only happier since Sagadis do not pollute the environment and their slow crawl gives plenty of opportunity for them to offer prayers to the holy logs from close quarters.

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