Odisha Nabakalebara: chariot wheel initiation ritual completed

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, May 11:

Keeping with the traditions of Shree Mandir and Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra, the ratha chaka dera anukula (initiation ceremony for fixing of wheels to chariot axles) ritual on the occasion of Bhaunri festival was held at Odisha’s holy town Puri in the forenoon on Sunday.

ratha chaka dera

The ratha khala (place where construction of chariots takes place) was abuzz with activity for the event on Sunday. Maharana, Biswakarma, Mukhya Biswakarma and Bhoi Sardar sevayats (all servitors of Shree Jagannath temple) and devotees in large numbers waited eagerly at the ratha khala to have a darshan (glimpse) of the agyaanmalas (garlands symbolizing go ahead orders) from the  Lords.

The pujapandas (priests) arrived at the ratha khala with the agyaanmalas well in advance of the propitious moment for the ratha chaka dera anukula ritual. Before the arrival of the agyaanmalas, Bhoi Sardar servitors had readied six wheels of the three chariots for the ritual which included bathing of the wheels.

On arrival of the agyaanmalas, the ratha chaka dera anukula ritual began. The ritual was completed as per norms prescribed in Ratha Nirmana Sanhita (Code for construction of chariots) after Biswakarma servitors fixed two wheels (made of phasi wood) to one axle each of the three chariots.

The agyaanmalas of the Lords arrived at the ratha khala for the ratha chaka dera anukula ritual after completion of Sakal Dhupa (Morning Meal) of the Lords at the Shree Mandir.

Work on the nahaka akha (axle) that began on Saturday after the logs reached the ratha khala ended early morning on Sunday.

The six wheels constructed earlier using six tumbas (wooden blocks at the centre of a wheel in bullock carts), 96 ara, 24 paii were kept in readiness for the ratha chaka dera anukula ritual.

The agyaanmalas were first offered to the wheels and axles of Nandighosha, Taladhwaja and Darpadalan chariots following which Biswakarma servitors’ conducted the ratha chaka dera anukula ritual. After completion of the ritual, Biswakarma servitors offered the agyaanmalas to Goddess Charchika.

Construction of 36 wheels and axles for the three chariots and its fixing will commence from Monday to be completed in phases.

It’s worth mentioning that the fixing of the wheels with axles has to be flawless to ensure the smooth roll out of the three chariots. The ‘Shilpa Shastra’, which Biswakarmas follow as a guide during the construction of the chariots also says so. ‘Ratha Nirmana Sanhita’ too gives utmost importance to this aspect in the construction of chariots. Maharanas and Biswakarmas take extreme care while doing this job.

The Ratha Nirmana Sanhita clearly says that obtaining a certificate from the administration that the wheels and axles have been rightly fixed is a must.

Sources said the progress made in the construction of the chariots till date is moving on schedule.

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