Odisha Nabakalebara: Banajaga team reaches first stop

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Mar 29:

The Banajaga Yatra team of Lord Jagannath, which started its journey from the Simhadwara (Lion’s Gate) of Shree Mandir with the agyanmala of the Lords, arrived at the Jagannath Ballav mutt located on the Grand Road in Odisha’s holy town Puri in a colorful procession this evening.

The Banajaga team on its way to Jagannath Ballav mutt in Puri. Pix: Biswaranjan
The Banajaga team on its way to Jagannath Ballav mutt in Puri.
Pix: Biswaranjan

The team will halt here for the night and proceed towards Deuli mutt at Kakatpur after midnight tomorrow.

The Shree Jagannath Temple was a place of hectic activity from the break of dawn today, the tenth day (dashami) of the bright fortnight (shukla pakshya) of the Hindu lunar month Chaitra for the Banajaga Yatra. A huge crowd of devotees had gathered at the Simhadwara (Lion’s gate) on the auspicious occasion.

The sound of cymbals and beats of mridanga by sankirtan mandalis (groups singing paeans to the Lords) rent the air at the Bada Danda (Grand Road) as devotees waited with bated breath for the grand event, the commencement of Banajaga Yatra-the expedition for search of daru (log) for carving of new idols (bodies) for Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Sudarshan.

Religious fervour reached its peak as the Daitapati and other sevayats descended the Baisipahaccha and reached the Simhadwara with the agyanmalas of the Lords. The beating of cymbals and mridamga reached their crescendo as the servitors were welcomed by the sankirtan mandalis.

Earlier in the day, the Banajaga tithi rituals had begun at the Shree Mandir. After dwaraphita, mailama and tadapalagi, the servitors performed the abakasa ritual. At the same time, the Sri Nahar (King’s Palace) too was a place of hectic activity to the beats of drums and trumpets.

Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibya Singh Dev, the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, handed over a betel nut (gua teka ritual) to the Rajguru (royal counselor) for the Banajaga Yatra after the completion of the customary poojas at his palace.

The gua teka ritual symbolizes the green signal or authorization by the King for the Banajaga expedition to go ahead.

“The Gajapati presented the betel nut, a coconut, grains of rice and a gold chaki (coin) on a silver plate to the Rajguru along with new clothes”, said Debi Prasad Rajguru.

In the afternoon, the agyanmala bije ritual of the Lords took place at the Shree Mandir after the bhoomi pooja at the darushala in Koili Baikuntha (the burial ground of the Lords inside the Sri Mandir premises).

Bhitaraccha Mohapatra, a temple servitor conducted the sadhibandha ritual (tying of old silk saris (clothes) worn by the Lords which have Geeta Govinda engraved on them) to the Daitapatis, Deula karana, Tadau karana, Biswakarma, Lenka and Behera Khuntia sevaks at the Simhadwara.

“This ritual is done with an objective that the Lord’s work will be completed smoothly. At the Jay Vijay Dwara, Bhitaracchha Mohapatra ties khandua saris of approximately 12 ft length to the foreheads of  Tadau Karana, Deula Karana and Behera Khuntia, others tie it themselves,” said Bhagwan Mohapatra, the Bhitaracchha Mohapatra.

The Banajaga team, in a colorful procession with the agyanmala of the Lords, flags and four decorated bullock carts to the beats of cymbals and mridanga by sankirtan mandalis, reached the Sri Nahar where the Rajguru, while wishing the Banajaga team all success in their expedition, handed over the gua (betel nut) received by him from the Gajapati to Biswabasu.

“We will halt at Jagannath Ballav mutt tonight and proceed for Deuli mutt at Kakatpur tomorrow after midnight at an auspicious time. On April 2, we will reach Deuli mutt and on April 3 we will hold the majana ritual of Maa Mangala at Kakatpur,” said Binayak Dasmohapatra, Biswabasu of the Banajaga Yatra team.

A total of 16 types of sevayats (servitors) participated  in the Banajaga Yatra this time, out of which seven types of sevayats returned from Sri Nahar and Jagannath Ballav mutt.

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