12 June 2019
Puri: The construction of the three chariots for the annual ‘Rath Yatra’ of Lord Jagannath is on full swing and expected to be completed before the commencement of the car festival scheduled to be held on 4 July. On the occasion of ‘Bhaunri Festival’, the ‘ratha chaka dera anukula’ or the initiation of chariot wheels ceremony was conducted today.
The construction began on the auspicious Akshyaya Tritiya, and is scheduled to be completed within forty four days, a day prior to the D-day.
Hundreds of traditional carpenters jointly create three massive chariots, Nandighosh of Lord Jagannath measuring 13.9 metres high with 16 wheels, Taladhwaj of Lord Balabhadra measuring 13.5 metres with 14 wheels, and Darpadalan of Devi Subhadra measuring 12.9 metres with 12 wheels.
These three massive raths are constructed using total 872 pieces of various wood species like Asan, Dhaura and Phasi as per the fixed designs.
Dozens of carpenters and their assistants work under the three chief carpenters assigned to the three chariots. The carpenters do not hold technical degrees and use their arms and fingers (haath anguli maapa) for measurement leading to the perfect structure of the rathas, exactly the way it was built hundreds of years ago. They work day and night to meet the deadline of the Netra Utsava (the penultimate day to Rath Yatra).
Different varieties of wood are used for constructing different portions of the chariot.
Auspicious days in between are fixed as the deadlines for making ready different portions of the chariot.
Different persons are allotted to construct diffent portions of the chariots. While ‘maharanas’ and ‘bhois’ construct the wheels and the main framework, the ‘kumharas’ (ironsmiths) provide all the iron fittings needed for the chariot, the ‘rupakars’ and ‘chitrakars’ (artists) design and decorate it with paintings, and the ‘darjis’ work on the cloth used for the chariots.
Finally, the massive logs are transformed into aesthetically designed rathas (chariots) for the Holy Trinity of the Jagannath Temple ready for the grand festival.