Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kanakpur/Biragobindapur, Apr 23:
The mahayagna, the much awaited event that would culminate in the felling of the daru (neem tree with special attributes) of Lord Balabhadra tomorrow, started amid great religious fervour early this morning at Kanakpur-the seat of Maa Sarala in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.
Ever since the declaration of the location of Lord Balabhadra’s daru at Kanakpur, thousands of devotees are making a beeline to the place to have a glimpse of the daru for Lord Balabhadra’s new idol.
Since the approach road to the shrine is very narrow, the district administration has imposed one-way entry restrictions for smooth and disciplined darshan by devotees. Imbued with the belief and faith of earning punya (divine blessings), devotees are braving the scorching Sun standing in a queue stretching for more than a kilometer to have a darshan of the daru.
The mahayagna is the ritual that would transform the daru with divine signs to mahadaru, the timber out of which the earthly body of the Lord Balabhadra will be carved, to be later infused with the brahma of the Lord. It would last for about 48 hours and end with purnaahuti tomorrow after which the neem tree will be felled.
Before the mahayagna began, the Vidyapati, Biwabasu and Acharya performed Surya puja and barana rituals (reception with utmost respect).
Daitapatis and stotriya Brahmins are observing nirjala upabas (a fast during which even sucking in of one’s own saliva to wet one’s own throat is forbidden, leave alone consumption of food and water).
Stotriya Brahmins, led by the Rajguru, are offering oblations to the fire God at the yagna mandap to the chants of Patala Narasimha mantra (invocations) in the presence of Vidyapati, Biwabasu and Acharya of the Banjaga Yatra ,
Daitapatis, both young and old, are chanting the same mantra and other secret mantras with utmost austerity at the Sabara Palli (the camp where Daitapatis are putting up, considered a village of Sabaras – the forest dwellers said to the first worshippers of Lord Jagannath in the form of Lord Nilamadhav).
As per tradition, the Vidyapati of the Banajaga Yatra team will symbolically touch the tree with a golden axe. It will next be touched by the Biswabasu with a silver axe and before the Biswakarmas (carpenters) use real iron axes to cut the tree.
Daitapatis, stotriya Brahmins and others will break their fast by consuming havisyanna only after the tree falls on the ground.
“The mahayagna began today morning and is on. The Maha Nursingha mantra will be (japa) chanted one lakh times between today and tomorrow. We Daitapatis and the stotriya Brahmins are all on fast. Maha Nrusingha mantra is being chanted not only for the purpose of consecration of the daru; it’s meant for peace and brotherhood in the world, for the good of the country, its people, the state and the world at large. Tomorrow, purnahuti will be held. Let Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe, keep everyone in peace,” said Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, chief Badagrahi of Lord Jagannath speaking to reporters at Kanakpur here today.
“Yagna is being conducted by the stotriya Brahmins, it will continue till tomorrow and on completion of purnahuti and a secret ritual at the base of the tree, I and Biswabasu will touch the tree with golden and silver axe and later Biswakarma (carpenter) servitors will start felling of the daru,” said Narsingha Pati Mohapatra, Vidyapati of the Banajaga team.
After bhoomisodhan (land purification) yesterday, the tree was bathed first in ganga jal (water from the holy Ganga) and subsequently with 108 pots of water and was offered new clothing. Later the ritual of ankuraropan (planting of seedling) was done.
The specially crafted sagadi (cart) that left Gadakuntunia on the outskirts of Odisha’s capital city in a colourful procession for Puri on Tuesday evening has arrived at Biragobindapur.
Daitapati servitors accompanying Lord Sudarshan’s daru sagadi will reach Alam Chandi temple at Atharnala tonight and rest for the night there to be welcomed into Puri with much fanfare by other Daitapatis and the public after completion of some secret rituals at the temple tomorrow morning.
Devotees pulled the sagadi with great enthusiasm to the chants of jai Jagannath, hari bol, bursting of crackers and lighting of fireworks, blowing of rana kahalis (war trumpets), beats of drums, cymbals, gongs and ululation by womenfolk all along the route on its journey towards Puri.
People in large numbers prostrated in obeisance to the daru, made offerings and lighted wicker lamps as it passed through their villages and town. The scene was no different form the Rath Yatra, the only difference being the smaller crowd.
The daru will be taken to Koilibaikuntha inside the Shree Jagannath temple premises through the Uttara dwara (northern gate).