Braving heavy rains, thousands of tribals thronged Sabara Srikhetra at Koraput to witness the Rath Yatra.
Rituals began early in the morning. Tribal priests performed special rituals of the deities and later amidst chanting of ‘mantras’ and blowing of conchs, the deities were taken to the chariot. Outside the temple, thousands of tribals in traditional head gears from communities like Gadava, Bhotra, Bhumiya, Sabara, Kondh, Koya and Bonda greeted the deities with their musical instruments and folk dance. As per the ritual, a tribal villager was crowned king for the day who performed the ‘Chhera Pahanra’ and then the chariot was drawn towards Gundicha temple by devotees.
Security was beefed up amid Maoist threat. Koraput Collector RP Yadav and SP Aswini Kumar oversaw all the arrangements. Odisha Jana Morcha chief Pyarimohan Mohapatra and leader Jagneswar Babu attended the festival.
The Sabara Srikhetra of Koraput shares one thing with the Puri Rath Yatra - Lord Jagannath carries as much religious significance for the tribal devotees at Koraput as for one and all in Puri. Here, The Lord is worshipped as ‘Daru Brahma’. The Rath Yatra is linked to the ‘Saura’ tribes who worship Lord Jagannath as their main Deity.
Legend has it that a ‘Saura’ tribal chief Biswabasu who served Lord Jagannath, worshipped Him in a wooden form. Even to this day the wooden form of The Lord worshipped by Biswabasu finds place in the village temples of Laxmipur, Boipariguda, Narayanpatna, Pottangi, Gunupur, Bissam Cuttack, Nandapur, Kotia and Semiliguda. The Jagannath temple of ‘Sabara Srikhetra’ was built in 1972 and the practice of pulling of chariots started after consecration of the temple.