Nabakalebar of Sri Jagannath – March 2015

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Jagannath nabakalebara photos (3)

The cutting of the tree would commence at an auspicious time and with prescribed rituals. The Pati Mahapatra first touches the tree with a golden axe followed by the Dayitapati who touches it with a silver axe. Lastly, the head wood carver of the Maharana family would touch it with an iron axe. During the tree cutting, the 108 names of God are chanted incessantly.

Once the tree is felled, the entire trunks along with its branches are placed in a wooden cart and dragged by the Daitapatis and the others in the group to the Temple.

The logs are kept inside the temple in a place known as Koili Vaikuntha. Koili means “burial ground” and Vaikuntha means “Heaven”. It is the place where the old deities will be buried and the new ones made.

The carving of the images begin with three oldest 7 of the main wood carvers setting on to work on the image of Lord Jagannath. The three oldest wood carvers will be the main sculptors for the deity of Lord Jagannath. The images of Lord Balabhadra and Devi are simultaneously carved by other two teams consisting of three carvers each.More than 50 carpenters work as assistant to the main carvers.The work is done with utmost confidentiality and not even the head priest of the temple is allowed to visit the place of work. There is a special enclosure inside the temple premises where the carving of the Lord is done. The enclosure is open on the top but is attached with very strong doors. The wood carvers are not supposed to consume anything (eat, drink or smoke) once inside the enclosure. The carvings are completed in 21 days and during these 21 days the carvers are not supposed to leave the temple premises. They would sleep in the temple courtyard in the night and have their dinner in the form of Lords Mahaprasad.

Devotional songs are sung outside the Koili Baikuntha day and night during throughout this 21 days period. This continuous singing of devotional songs is called “Akhand Bhajan”. While this is done by devadasis and temple musicians, shlokas from the Vedas are chanted continuously by Brahmin priests.

When the new deities, are made, they are carried inside the inner sanctum of the temple and placed in front of the old deities, facing them. This is again an act that is done with utmost confidentiality as nobody is allowed inside for a Darshan of the Lord, not even the temple priests.

The three new deities are carried inside only by descendants of the Dayitapati family. Once they are safely inside, only the three eldest Dayitapati members can stay. No puja is done at this time and no food is offered. Of the four Jagannath’s height is 5′ 7″, and His outstretched arms measure 12 ft. across. He weighs so much that when they carry Him, 5 persons must be on each arm, 20 on His backside, and more than 50 in front pulling. Balabhadra is a bit lighter. His height is 5′ 5″ and His arms are also 12 ft. across. Subhadra is less than 5′, and light. Sudarsana is in a long log-shaped form only. However, this log is 5′ 10″ in length.

The rights of the Great Transformation are accorded only to the Daitapatis as they are considered to be the descendants of the Daitapati who was the first worshipper of the Lord Jagannath (Juggernaut word is derived from this word).

This ceremony takes place three days before the great Chariot Festival called Rath Yatra (Chariot pulled by humans to this day)

The transformation is complete once the “Brahman” or the life force (also referred to as pinda) is transferred from the old deities to the new.

There are different rules attached to this act that the Daitapatis must adhere to. These are:

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