A FESTIVAL IN 19 YEARS
The grandest festival of 21st Century, Nabakalebara is occurring this time after a period of 19 years, as mystical as it sounds the festival has many unique rituals that gets unfolded in over a period of 65 days. In this festival the Chaturdha Murti ( Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra & Sudarshan) of Jagannath Temple, Puri attain a new body meaning the old wooden idols are replaced by new set of Idols, no where on earth is there any similar ritual, which is what makes this festival so unique. This mystical event starts with an equally interesting ritual called ‘Banajaga Yatra’ or ‘Journey into the forest’, in which several servitors of the deities embark on a journey by foot in search for the sacred logs or ‘Daru’ (also known as Neem Tree ) which will be used to carve out the new idols. This team is composed of servitors like Daitas, Patimahapatra, Dadhakaran, Deulakarana, Padiakaran, Maharana, Lenka,Rajguru, some Brahmin servitors along with the other servitors and workers of the Temple Administration.
The journey (Banajaga Jatra) starts only after the chief servitor Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, officially commences the yatra by a ritual called the Gua Teka, which directs the servitors to set out on foot to identify and locate the sacred woods. After getting the due permissions from the Gajapati Maharaj,the Daru Identifiers/Investigators Pati Mohapatra, Biswabasu, Dalapati, Badagrahi Daitapatis, Brahman Acharyas, Badagrahi Biswakarma Maharana, Tadaukarana and Deulakarana etc, proceed to Jagannath Ballav Math on the Grand road accompanied with the music of conches, trumpets, drums and gongs etc, enriched procession. All of them halt there for the day for their initial preparation. Next day early morning, all the Banajaga Jatri´s proceed to the temple of Maa Mangala at Kakatpur, arrange a special Majana (Ceremonial bath) for the deity, dress and decorate with a new saree and beautiful flowers. This particular ritual is one the most vital as well as mytical in its way, apparently it is believed that the locations of sacred woods is shown to particular servitors in their dreams ( a ritual called ‘Swapnadesha’) by Maa Mangala deity at the very temple. After getting a divine dream of the location of the sacred logs ( Daru), the servitors move from place to place in small groups in search of the individual Darubrukhya. Biswakarma inspects the Daru-Brikhya, checks, measures it and on receipt of his clearance, the process of identification of specific Daru is considered as final. The Daru-investigators proceed to the Neem tree identified for Sudarshan first and subsequently of Balabhadra, Shubhadra and Jagannath in the order. After the individual Darus (sacred woods) are identified and selected, several rituals are performed, the area around the selected tree is cleared, the entire area is made purified by sprinkling of scented water and utterances of vedic mantras, this is called normal Bhumisuddhi. There are several other rituals that are conducted before finally the process of felling of the Daru-Brukhya (sacred woods) starts. After the felling of the daru-brukhya, the transportation of DaruÂs are done on ‘Shagadis’ or carts to the Srimandir after. The principal part of the shagadi is made of the wood of a Kendu tree, the wheels of the shagadi are made of a Bata tree wood, whereas the axle is made of a tamarind tree wood. After reaching the Shree Mandir through northern gate of the temple, the sacred logs are kept in a temporary shed constructed in Koilibaikuntha within the temple-premises. These sacred logs then are carved into new idols by specific servitors called ‘Maharana’ inside koilibaikuntha as several rituals are performed side by side. One of the most important and mystical ritual of the Nabakalebara festival is the ‘Brahma Paribartana or Ghata Paribartana’ , which happens in the midnight of the 14th Lunar Day, on the Anasara Pindi. In this ritual the life substance ( Brahmapadartha ) are transferred from the old statues to the new statues on the anasara pindi. Change of Life Substance from the old idols to the new idols. Since the ritual is done very secretly as none of detailing of the ritual is not available .After the Ghata Paribartana the old idols are buried in a dedicated place inside koilibaikuntha.
The new idols are witnessed by devotees on the day of Nabajauban Darshan (though this time visitors cannot see the new idols on this day) and also on the day world famous Rath Yatra Festival.