Nabakalebar Puri Rath Yatra is going to be held on 18 July 2015. Nabakalebar is an ancient ritual in which the wooden figures of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are periodically renewed. The last Nabakalebar Rath Yatra was held in 1996 and after a period of 19 years, Puri is all set to witness the magical interlude of history, mythology and divine grace.
Philosophy behind the New Embodiment
In Hinduism, it is believed that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. He is the supreme energy in the cosmic creation. However, as per customs, the idol at the grand temple in Puri has donned the earthly form of the Supreme Being called the Brahman and this physical form, like any other being in the universe, is perishable by nature. The supreme energy embodied in the idol is transient and thus enters the new idol created for the Supreme Being.
There is also a practical reason for the change of idols periodically. While idols made of jewels and metals have a lifespan of thousands of years, clay idols have a life of one year and wooden figures have a life of 12 to 19 years. Thus the wooden idols made from Neem trees at the Jagannath Temple are changed with grand rituals within this period of time.
Neem Tree Used for making the Idols
The deities are crafted from a special kind of Neem tree that is located near three mountains – Varuna, Sahada and Vilva. As per mythology, since Lord Jagannath has dark skin colour and his siblings have a lighter skin tone, the Neem tree for Lord Jagannath has to be of darker shade, whereas for Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan, the trees have to be of lighter shade.
The Neem tree from which Lord Jagannath’s idol is made has to have four principle branches depicting the four arms of Lord Jagannath. None of the branches should be broken or cut. There has to be a water body with a cremation ground, a hermitage, a Shiva temple and an ant hill in close vicinity. There has to be a cobra pit at the root of the tree. The tree should not be home to any bird or plant like creepers. The tree should have natural impressions of Lord Jagannath’s symbols – Shankha (conch), Chakra (disc), Gada (mace/club) and Padma (lotus).
It is believed the Goddess Maa Mangala reveals the location of the tree that fulfils all the aforesaid conditions in the dreams of the priests of the Jagannath Temple and once it is pinpointed a Yagna (fire ritual) is conducted in front of the tree. Even the cutting of the tree is under prescribed rituals.
Rituals of the Ceremony
The preparations for the ceremony begin in the month of Chaitra, which is the first month as per the Hindu lunar calendar. The ceremony is performed once every 12-19 years in the year that has two months of Ashadha Adhika Masa (June-July) as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
The transformation of the Supreme Being from the old idol to the new one begins at the midnight of Adhika Ashadha Krishna Chaturdashi as per the Hindu lunar calendar. Three priests known as the Dayitapatis are in sole charge of this transformation and during the entire process, they remain blindfolded with a piece of cloth from Lord Jagannath. The new idols are established in the temple and worshipped once the transformation with the Vedic chants is complete.
The most auspicious and important act of the Nabakalebara is that of the burial of the old idols in the sand inside the temple premises at Tulasi Bana in Koilibaikuntha. As per mythology, anyone seeing the three priests while they are carrying the old idols for burial will die. Thus, the Odisha Government orders a power cut with a complete black out from the midnight of Adhika Ashadha Krishna Chaturdashi till the rituals are over.
The Odisha Government is well-geared for this grand festival. They have already spent Rs 1,000 crore on infrastructure development like expansion of roads, drinking water, health, sanitation, etc. for the devotees /visitors. The government expects a minimum of 10 lakh visitors for this event. The emphasis is being laid on proper connectivity by road, rail and air, with the OSRTC plying 47 special buses to Puri for the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra. The emphasis is being laid on accommodations, so that the visitors are hassle-free. Security arrangements have been made for ensuring a safe Rath Yatra with over 9,000 policemen of all ranks pressed into service in Puri. The Central government is also extending any required assistance to make the event a grand success.
Inofrmation about Nava Kalebara
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