Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Rath Yatra 2015 and Nabakalebara

So, finally the all famous Nabakalebara Rath Yatra festival of Puri(Odisha) began with the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhara and Goddess Shubhdra reaching Gundica Temple(Lord's Aunt's House).
Many of us enjoyed this festival on television and many were present at the festival location.This year's festival was much special because of "Nabakalebara". Before giving you a detail about this festival , let us know what Nabakalebara is all about.

Nabakalebar is all about transformation of Puri temple, Odisha lords into the new body. The new wooden deities of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra and Sudarshan are welcoming to the temple with great celebration and it is a great occasion for Odisha people. The new idols are carved and old ones are cremated with rituals mentioned in the century old Odia scriptures.

Depend on the almanac positions of Hindu calendar the transformation or the Nabakalebar takes place once in every 12 to 19 years. Usually it is held in that year when the month of Ashadha is followed by another Ashadha. The previous Nabakalebars were taken place in the years like 1969, 1978 and 1996 and this year again all devotees are getting the opportunity to see changing form of lords. 

From a religious point of view the temple management and priest have to identify the holy tree with a group of search team as prescribed in the temple records. They trace the trees with support of divine dream, then next they start their stopover at Kakatpur, the abode of Goddess Mangala. After that carving of the idols, transfer of Bramha from old to new idol and finally sacred burial of old bodies of Lords are the major rituals which are combinely named as the process of Nabakalebar. 

With the forthcoming Nabakalebar even at Puri to be held in this year 2015, are in the process. Both age-old complicated religious rituals leading to preparation of wooden idols to huge preparation on infrastructure from keeping in view massive transformation of devotees. To do everything in order, Puri Government is working on crowd management, law and order, health issues, transport services, parking facilities, safety measurements to give a hassle free service to meet the deadline well in advance.
2015 is a great year for Lord Jagannath devotees as they are going to witness the rare Nabakalebara Rath Yatra, which almost comes in every twelve years. We all are lucky enough to see this special celebration on 18th July 2015 in the holy city of Puri, Odisha. In this special year, along with new chariot, new idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudashan are also come in front of every devotee.

The new idols of Lords are prepared through special Margo trees which should fulfil the entire extraordinary requirement to be a part of Devine power. Here are the steps which should be followed by Hindu rituals before preparing new deities.
·         The search party for the holy Margo trees should be of 1 member of the Pati Mahapatra family, 20 Dayitapatis, 1 Lenka, 9 Maharanas, 16 Brahmanas, 3 Deulakaranas, 30 Police officers and 2 police inspectors.
·         The search function will start after Lord Jagannath's blessings and after the midday meal offering to the deities.
·         The procession starts from temple to near Puri Kings' palace to seek his permission.
·         Then the procession continues to the gardens of the temple known as Jagannath-Ballabha then from there within two days the team prepares all their arrangements to start their journey towards Kakatpur.
·         Because it is a belief that only Goddess Bimala or Mangala can only say about the exact location of the holy trees. It is auspicious to stay there before starting their search mission. The Dayitapati will get dream about the different locations of all four deities.
·         It is true that on the exact location there should be so many Margo trees, but the team has to choose the specific marking and feature based symptoms on those trees.
·         After getting the trees a great holy sacrifice is performed by inviting all the Gods and Goddess to give their blessings at that auspicious time.
·         The auspicious time actually allows cutting procedure of the holy trees. The Pati Mahapatra will touch the trees with golden axe, the Dayitapati will touch it with a silver axe and the maharana family will touch it with iron axe. At the time of cutting the trees 108 names of God will be chanted.
·         The tree logs will arrive to Puri temple through wooden cart secretively.
·         Nobody is allowed to go to see the sculptures for 21 days. The carpenters close the main door and work whole day and night there.
·         The ceremony will take place three days before the car festival. After buring the old deities the new deities are come in front of their devotees on the Rath Yatra.
1996 was the last year when the Nabakalebara had occurred and after a long gap it is again going to be organized in this year of 2015. It is going to be a grand ceremony. So from all around the world, people will come on Rath Yatra day, which is going to be observed on 18 July 2015. So if you want to get lucky enough to visit and see new lords in front of your eyes, book rooms at Toshali Sands from now onwards to be the first one to get the best accommodation for Rath Yatra. 
Precise Features of Holy Trees For Nabakalebar
Nabakalebar is the periodical replenishment of the wooden images of Lord, Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan that is happened in Puri temple of Odisha. 2015 is the fortune year, where Nabakalebar is going to take place. This year Puri Rath Yatra will be named as Nabakalebar Rath Yatra in 18th July 2015 is going to be special for world over devotees. Seeing the new avatar of Lords is in itself a great thing and devotees are waiting rigorously for the final day. Here are the brief description about the procedure of Nabakalebar festival, which is falls in every 12 to 19 years based on Hindu calendar.

The deities are going to change their bodies during leap month. So the procedure is like this, one lunar month of the Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Ashadha. The Margo trees are selected every time for making deities. Any ordinary tree with extraordinary features can only become the body of the deity or Daru Bramha. The Darus should be different for each deity. Such as : 
Lord Jagannath Daru features
·         The holy tree must have 4 main branches.
·         The bark of the Margo tree should be dark colored.
·         The sign of Sankha and Chakra should be present in the tree.
·         There should be a cremation ground near the tree.
·         An out hill near the tree and a snake hole at the roots of the tree should be present.
·         It should be that holy tree, which doesn’t have any birds' nest.
·         The tree should be near the river or a pond or a crossing of the three ways or else to be surrounded by 3 mountains.
·         The tree should not stand alone but be surrounded preferably with the trees of Varuna, Sahada, and Belva.
·         There should be a temple dedicated to Shiva in the neighborhood.
·         There should be some hermitage or monastery nearby.
·         The holy tree should be free from Parasite plants and Creepers.

Lord Balabhadra Daru Features
·         The holy tree must have Seven Branches.
·         The skin of the tree must be light brown or white color.
·         It should have a sign of plough and pestle etc.
·         Nearby tree there should be a hermitage and also a graveyard.

Goddess Subhadra Daru Features
·         The tree should have Seven Branches.
·         The skin of the tree should be light brown or white color.
·         It should have a sign of plough and pestle etc.
·         Nearby tree there should be a hermitage and a graveyard.

Daru of Lord Sudarshan
·         The holy Margo tree should have three branches.
·         The bark of the tree should be barkish.
·         The tree should have a sign of Chakra with a small depression in the middle.
Every year during Rath Yatra millions of people are visiting Puri; however this year it seems Nabakalebar Rath Yatra it is going to be overcrowded just to see the transformations of Lords. So this time to visit Puri and get blessings would be a difficult task. 
Sacred Time Of Nabakalebar
Nabakalebar is the festival of Transformation of Deities into new bodies from old bodies. Based on Hindu calendar calculation and date within every twelve to nineteen years this festival gets organized. On this occasion the wooden images of the deities are replace by new ones in the Puri Jagannath temple.

During full moons of two Ashadh months (June-July) this festival has taken place. In every three years a lunar month is excluded to balance in between lunar and solar years to calculate this Naba kalebar period. The specific month, which was excluded from the calculation known as Adhimasa or Mala masa due to be believed as most inauspicious period for any rituals and religious ceremonies is taken place to conduct this Naba kalebar festival. Inauspicious month for the sacred renewal ceremony is named as Purusottama Masa. 1863, 1893, 1931, 1950, 1969, 1978 and 1996 are the consecutive years within last 100 years for Nabakalebar ceremony. This time it is this year 2015, July 18th is the sacred date for Nabakalebar. 

So I think now you are known with the term "Nabakalebara" .
Before Rath Yatra begins there are two important ceremonies which are known as 'Netra utshaba' and 'Naba Jauban' .

Netra Utshaba -In this ritual the eyes of the deities are finally touched and painted and they become alive for worship. It is followed by another festivity known as Naba Jaubana Darshana

Naba Jaubana Darshana- On the eve of the Ratha Yatra the freshly painted deities are gorgeously dressed and decorated for the ritual.

The chariots of the three deities are have their specialties and qualities.Let us know about each of them one by one.

The chariot of Lord Jagannath is known as Nandighosha. It is also known as Garudadhwaja and Kapidhwaja. The easiest way to identify the Chariot of Lord Jagannath is by color of the covering of the chariot. The chariot of Jagannath has a yellow and red color canopy and it is also the largest of the chariots. The Chariot has 4 horses and the color of the horses is White. The height of the Chariot is 45 feet and it has 16 wheels. It also prominently displays the Sudarshana Chakra emblem. The guardian deity of the chariot is Garuda and the charioteer is known as Daruka. The flag on the chariot is known as Trailokyamohini. The rope that is used to pull the Chariot is known as Shankahchuda. Along with Jagannath, the chariot also has the idols of Varaha, Govardhana, Krushna, Nrusimgha, Rama, Narayana, Trivikrama, Hanuman and Rudra. The face of the Chariot is known as Nandi Mukha and the weapons are Sankha & Chakra.

The chariot of Lord Balabhadra is known as Taladhwaja. The easiest way to identify the Chariot of Lord Balabhadra is by color of the covering of the chariot. The chariot of Balabhadra has a green and red color canopy and it is the second largest of the chariots. The Chariot has 4 horses and the color of the horses is Black. The height of the Chariot is 44 feet and it has 14 wheels. The guardian deity of the chariot is Vasudev and the charioteer is known as Matali. Gate Keepers of the Chariot are Nanda & Sunanda. The flag on the chariot is known as Unnani. The rope that is used to pull the Chariot is known as Basuki. Along with Balabhadra, the chariot also has the idols of Ganesha, Kartikeya, Sarvamangala, Pralambari, Halayudha, Mrutyunjaya, Natamvara, Mukteshwar & Sheshadeva. The face of the Chariot is known as Ketu Bhadra and the weapons are Hala & Musala.

The Chariot of Goddess Subhadra is known as Devadalana. It is also known as Darpadalana and Padmadhwaja. The easiest way to identify the Chariot of Goddess Subhadra is by color of the covering of the chariot. The chariot of Subhadra has a black and red color canopy and it is also the smallest of the chariots. The Chariot has 4 horses and the color of the horses is red. The height of the Chariot is 43 feet and it has 12 wheels. The guardian deity of the chariot is Jayadurga and the charioteer is known as Arjuna. The flag on the chariot is known as Nadambika. The rope that is used to pull the Chariot is known as Swarnachuda. Along with Subhadra, the chariot also has the idols of Chandi, Chamunda, Ugratara, Vanadurga, Shulidurga, Varahi, Shyama Kali, Mangala and Bimala. The face of the Chariot is known as Bhakti Sumedha and the weapons are Padma & Kalhar.

Now, Let us have some glimpses of this year's Rath Yatra

In Jagannath Puri, we have a term called 'Pahandi' which has originated  from the Sanskrit word Padamundanam meaning in local dialect a slow step by step movement with spreading of feet. It is the special technique and method of carrying the deitiy from "Ratnasinghasana" to their respective chariots by the "sebayatas."

So here is the "Pahanadi" of Lord Balabhdra.
"Pahanadi" of Goddess Shubra

                  and  here is the  "Pahanadi" of Lord of the universe "Jagannath"

These great eyes, so merciful and keeping people getting attracted towards them.

Lord Balabhadra with his devotees

Rare View of The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Gajapati Maharaj performing the sacred ritual 'Chera Pahanra'
The second phase of the festival is an equally colourful and elaborate ritual is known as Chhera Pahanra. The Raja, King of Puri, Gajapati Divya Singha Deva is informed of the deities having taken their places on the chariots through a messenger specially deputed by the temple officials. The young, handsome King, clad in spotless white, carried in a silver plated palanquin leaves his palace and comes in a small procession on the grand avenue led by a caparisoned elephant. He climbs the chariots one by one. He first offers his prayers to the deity seated on the chariot. He then cleans the platforms with a golden broom, sprinkling flowers and fragrant water on the surface of the chariot. 

The ritual goes back several hundred years and is a symbol of the subjugation of the temporal to the spiritual. The emperors of Orissa, beginning with the valiant Anantvarman Chodagangadeva in the 12th century, had declared themselves to be the rauta, servant of Lord Jagannatha and ruled the land as His representative. The ritual is also a public demonstration of the unique philosophy of integration and unity symbolised by Lord Jagannatha. There is no distinction of caste, creed or any other barrier during the entire festivities. After cleansing of the chariots by the Raja and his departure to the palace, the wooden horses, brown, black and white, are fixed to the three chariots. Thick ropes made of coconut fibre and 250 feet long are tied to the individual chariots.

        and this is the 'Pahandi' of Sudarshan Chakra.

The final ritual in the celebration is the pulling of the chariots. The chariot of Lord Balabhadra is pulled first followed by that of goddess Subhadra. At last the grand moment and the climax of the day’s celebration is reached when the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, Nandighosha starts its spectacular journey to the Gundicha temple. Thousands of devotees who patiently wait the whole day for this blessed moment are ecstatic with joy and pull the chariots with a sense of fulfillment.

In ancient times, the Ratha Yatra of Puri employed six chariots as compared to the three at present times. A river once flowed between the Gundicha House and the Jagannatha temple. Three chariots stayed in readiness on the other side of the river to receive the deities from the three chariots that transported them from the main temple.

The Return Festival,Bahuda
There, in their Garden House, adapa mandapa, also known as their place of birth, the deities stay for seven days. On the ninth day of the festival, Bahuda Jatra, the grand return journey takes place. On the way back they stop for a short while and partake of poda pitha, a type of cake made of rice, lentils, jaggery and coconut, offered by their aunt, mausima. On reaching back the main temple, the deities, on their chariots, don the golden attire or the suna besa, with hands, arms and crown made of solid gold. They are also offered sweet drinks, adhara pana, on huge cylindrical earthen pots reaching up to their lips. They are taken down from the chariots in a ritual descent to enter the temple.

The temple gate is however shut upon Lord Jagannatha by his celestial consort Laxmi. Her anger, jealousy and frustration is articulated by her companions, represented by a group of servitors from inside. Another group representing Lord Jagannatha respond with entreaties and endearments. After re-enacting this drama of daily domestic tiffs of mere mortals, the celestial couple finally make up, and the temple door is opened and the deities return to their bejeweled throne, the ratna sinhasana.

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