KORAPUT: For the first time in the history of Sabar Srikhetra, three chariots will be taken out during the Rath Yatra this year. Until last year, only one chariot were being pulled with all the three deities seated in it.
Work on the chariots for annual sojourn of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra ad Lord Balabhadra in their independent chariots has already begun. Moreover, it has also been decided that Darpadalana, the chariot of Devi Subhadra, will be pulled only by women, said Jagannath Temple Committee secretary Gadadhar Parida. Wood required for the chariots has been arranged from various places in the district, Parida added.
“This has been a long-standing wish of the women, who rarely used to get a chance to pull the single chariot every year, informed Parida.
As many as 15 skilled carpenters including two chief carpenters Sanyasi Majhi and Majeswar Kamar of Nabrangpur have been engaged in making these chariots on the temple premises. The height of chariots has been be fixed at 30 feet with comfortable platform space and the work is likely to get over by May 15, said Majhi. Construction of the chariots will start on Akshya Tritiya day, as is the practice in Puri.
As construction of three chariots required huge funding and wood, a Sampark Rath was flagged off last year and it moved round the district for collection of funds and wood.
Apart from this, the road from Temple Chowk to Gundicha temple has been widened to accommodate chariots and the rush.
Sabara Srikhetra is considered the most important temple of Lord Jagannath, next to Puri. The Jagannath temple here was built in 1972 and the practice of pulling the chariots started after consecration of the temple. Since then, the Trinity is taken in one chariot to Gundicha temple.
Every year, wearing their traditional costumes, the tribals pull the chariot to Gundicha temple, which is 200 metres from the Jagannath temple.
The Srikhetra car festival here shares one thing in common with the Puri Rath Yatra. Lord Jagannath carries as much religious significance for the tribal devotees in Koraput as in Puri. Here, the Lord is worshipped as ‘Daru Brahma’.
Legend has it that ‘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.