Role of mutts during Odisha’s Nabakalebara festival

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Mar 5:

The holy town of Puri in Odisha’s coastal district is also widely known for its omnipresent Hindu mutts. These mutts play a crucial role in the daily rituals as well as during Nabakalebara festival of the presiding deities at the 12th century world famous shrine.

Kanchi Kamakoti Sankaracharya Math, Puri
Kanchi Kamakoti Sankaracharya Math, Puri

Among them, there are five leading mutts–Puri’s Jagannath Ballav mutt, Bada Oriya mutt, Radhakanta mutt, Raghabadas mutt and Bada Deuli mutt near Kakatpur—which are closely associated with the rituals of the new embodiment of the deities.

Kakatpur’s Bada Deuli mutt, popularly known as Deuli mutt, near the famous Mangala temple finds prominence during Nabakalebara festival as the servitors’ stopover at the mutt for swapnadesh (divine instructions) from the deity, after spending the first night at Jagannath Ballav mutt in Puri. The district administration’s focus shifts on the mutt, which otherwise is cash-strapped, during that time of the festival.

Notably, Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has sanctioned Rs 1.78 crore for renovation of Deuli mutt which was scheduled to be over by February end.

Over 100 priests comprising some Daitapatis, Pati Mahapatra Sevak, brahmin priests, Viswakarmas (carpenters), Acharya Brahmins, Lenka servitors, Kahalia, Deula Karana, Tadhau Karana and temple police would spend around 12 days in the mutt before venturing out in search of the daru which marks the beginning of Banajog Yatra.

The Banajog Yatra team splits into groups and move out in different directions looking for the darus after being blessed by Maa Mangala, the presiding goddess of Kakatpur.

The Jagannath Ballav mutt is known as the pleasure garden of Lord Jagannath. The mutt plays a significant part in Benta Niti, Ram Janma, Krushna Janma, Bamana Janma and other rituals of the Lords. Benta Niti is one ritual of Lord Jagannath, performed on Basant Panchami where Sri Dola Govinda goes to Jaganath Ballav mutt for hunting. There is a pond inside the mutt called Benta Pokhari or hunting pond. On the banks of the pond, green coconuts are placed symbolizing the hunting prey– deers.

The “Bije pratimas” (the representative images) of the Lords visit this mutt on different festive occasions. This mutt supplies flower-ornaments like ’tilak’ and ‘jhumpa’ for Baddasinghara besha   and supplies ‘Kora’ (a sweet food) for ‘Kaliya dalana’ and ‘Pralambasura  badha’ beshas. Besides, the mutt situated on the Grand Road also supplies ‘dayana’ for ‘dayana chori’ ritual.

The Banajog Yatra team will embark on its journey on the tenth day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra, which falls on March 29 this year.

After spending the first night at Jagannath Ballav mutt, the Banajog Yatra team will leave for Deuli mutt.

Special arrangements have been made at the Jagannath Ballav mutt for the daru search team. Around Rs 10 lakh has been spent on drinking water, sanitation and overall renovation of the mutt.

‘‘Renovation work is in full swing. We have made special arrangements for the servitors who will spend a night here before leaving for Deuli mutt,’ ’Jagannath Ballav mutt managing trust secretary Bhakta Das said.

On their return journey, the Banajog Yatra team, with the chariots laden with the daru, will go for one-day break journey and take rest at either Nrusingha Temple or Alamchandi Temple. On the following day, the Daitapati servitors would enter the Lord Jagannath temple from the Uttaradwara (North gate or Elephant gate) and reach the Koili Baikuntha. Koili means “burial ground” and Baikuntha means “Heaven”. It is the place where the old deities will be buried and the new ones made.

The Radhakanta mutt has been entrusted with the duty of reception of the Daitapati servitors when they will return from the Banajoga Yatra.

Similarly, the Raghabdas mutt, situated near the southern gate of the Jagannath temple, has been given the responsibility to provide ‘Panti Bhog’ during Anabasara period. At the time of Anbasara period, the ailing deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarsan are confined to a place called Anabasara Ghara.

It may be mentioned that the Raghabdas mutt supplies ‘tahia’ on Snana purnima, Rath yatra, Bahuda or return car festival and Niladribije. It supplies a portion of the Hati besha and ‘tuli’ for pahandi and a certain quantity of sandalwood for ‘Sarbanga’neeti on ‘Khalilagi ekadasi. It also supplies garlands for ‘Nabanka bedha’ and offers ‘adhara  pana  bhog’  and ‘panti bhog’ on certain festive days.

The mutt will bear the expenses incurred on the rituals which are being delegated to it.

The Oriya mutt will supply oil for Phuluri neeti and ‘trimundi chandua’. Besides, it supplies silk clothes for ‘Chaka apasara’ and repairs ‘Kanakamundi’.

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