World embraces for Nabakalebara: The ritual of Lord Jagannath’s new embodiment

Puri-Temple1 (1)

By Prateek Kumar

Nabakalebara is among one of the most prominent festivals of Odisha, celebrating the regeneration of Lord Jagannath, Bhalabhadara, Subhadra and Sudarshan by restoring their wooden idols in Jagannath temple, Puri.  According to the secret code of conduct followed in the customs, the provision is there for changing the deities. And with the help of secret rituals the supreme power is installed from old deities to the new one.

The ceremony that’s traditionally performed once in 6, 12 or 18 years is organized during the intercalary month of the respective year’s annual calendar, i.e. a year that has consecutive lunar months of Ashadha. This year’s festival will be commencing from 18 July and is expected to be witnessed by more than 20 lakh people and the net expenditure of the festival ranges to Rs 1000 crore.

Numerous myths, elaborate rituals and several celestial incidents are also attached with this propitious event and the procedure of which is also mentioned in Sanskrit manuscripts inscribed on the palm leaves which are kept in the Jagannath temple.

For the prosper completion of the ritual Gajapati Maharajah of Puri gives a decree of instructions to the Vidyapati, Diatas and Brahmins who are well versed in Vedas, to go and search a tree on which images of the deities can be crafted.

A group of devotees from several communities in strict adherence to the ancient scriptures travel together in their quest of finding the appropriate tree (Neem/Margo) whose wood is used in the construction of the deities. The need for the new deities is imperative owing to the decay of the wooden idols over the years.

Sankha (conch), Chakra (disc), Gada (mace/club) and Padma (lotus) are the few specifications that a tree must fulfill to be chosen as a Daru Brahma. A search party is formed to go out and locate the “Holy tree”. The herd of searchers consists of 1 heir of Pati Mahapatra family, 20 Dayitapatis, 1 Lenka, 9 Maharanas, 16 Brahmanas, 3 Deulakaranas, 30 Police officers and 2 Inspector of police.

For the successful completion of Nabakalebara fest, centre has already given Rs 50 crore to Odisha government and The Tourism Development Corporation of Odisha has also announced special tourism packages for pilgrims of Nabakalebara festival. People are waiting to see the revival of Lord Jagannath and witness this sacred congregation that unites all the communities and classes. There is also a belief that marriages are prohibited during this year of reincarnation.