Nabakalebara: A major event

Nabakalebara: A major event

Many people in Odisha will remember 2015, may be for life, because of Nabakalebara, a mega religious event at the Jagannath temple in Puri in which the three principal wooden deities of the popular Hindu shrine as well as a side deity were replaced with new ones.

The event was celebrated after 19 years. The next Nabakalebara is expected to take place almost two decades later, DHNS reports from Bhubaneswar.

 The much-awaited event was flagged off in the month of March with Banajoga Yatra, a ritual in which specially designated servitors of the important shrine went in search of four sacred neem trees that will provide wood for the construction of the three deities – the Jagannath, Balabhadra and their sister Subahdra besides Sudarshan, an important “side” deity.

After the four trees or “Darus” were identified – one at a place in the outskirts of capital Bhubaneswar and three others in coastal Jagatsinghpur district – they were cut off, again by designated servitors, and were carried to Puri not by any modern transport like trucks but by “sagadis” or wooden carts as per the tradition.

Once the timbers landed in the temple, the carpenters of the shrine began the construction of the four deities.

They were ready for public display on the day of annual Rath Yatra or the Car festival which was celebrated in the temple town on July 18. With local TV channels and newspapers giving bit-by-bit details of the entire Nabakalebara process, it triggered unprecedented enthusiasm among the devotees for almost four months.

The grand colourful religious event nevertheless had its share of controversies and setbacks.

At the end of the Banajoga Yatra, it was alleged by a section of the devotees that the process to identify the holy trees were not followed properly and it(the process) was “fixed”.

The biggest controversy of the event surfaced during Bramha Paribartan, the extremely important ritual in which the “souls” of the deities were shifted from the old wooden structures to the newly constructed ones.

 The ritual was to be performed by a very few designated servitors in the middle of the night on the fixed date with utmost secrecy. The temple premises was emptied for the process. The ritual, however, could take place not in the middle of night but well after noon the next day.

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