Construction of chariots nears completion in Puri

All three rathas are fitted with unique shock absorber systems and manually operated front brakes.
Chariot construction is underway on Badadanda in Puri
Chariot construction is underway on Badadanda in Puri Photo| Express

PURI: Construction of the three chariots for the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra on July 7 is progressing as per the fixed schedule and expected to be completed a day before the grand event.

Hundreds of workers from various disciplines are working in a specified schedule every day at the construction yard also called ‘Ratha Khala’. Construction began on the auspicious Akshaya Tritiya day and was scheduled for completion within 44 days.

The construction was initiated after the temple priests handed over ‘agyan mallyas’ (orders of the lords) from Lord Jagannath to the Biswakarmas (three chief carpenters of the rathas) in a formal ceremony. The Biswakarmas were presented with turbans, symbolising the entrustment of responsibility.

Dozens of carpenters and their assistants work under the direction of chief carpenters assigned to the three rathas being constructed in front of the royal palace along the Badadanda.

Carpenters come from remote villages and receive wages from the temple. While the Nandighosha Rath (13.9 metre high) of Lord Jagannath has 16 giant wheels, the Taladhwaja Rath (13.5 metre high) of Balabhadra has 14 wheels, and the Darpadalana Rath (12.9 metre high) of Devi Subhadra has 12 wheels. Around 872 pieces of timber from various tree species like Asan, Dhaura, and Phasi as per the fixed design are used in the construction, said Bijay Kumar Mohapatra, Biswakarma of the Nandighosha Rath of Lord Jagannath.

All three rathas are fitted with unique shock absorber systems and manually operated front brakes.

Carpenters work for nearly 10 hours every day under the supervision of the Biswakarmas in the Ratha Khala. Sometimes they double up the work if it is hampered by natural calamities like rain, added Mohapatra.

Apart from these carpenters, a number of roopakaras (sculptors and painters) display their skill by engraving and painting the images of Parswadevatas (guarding deities) on all three sides of the rathas.

“While the sculptors engrave images on detachable wood frames, the roopakaras paint them with traditional bright and lively colours. Several blacksmiths meticulously work to strengthen joints and weak portions, particularly the wheels, by reinforcing them with iron clamps and hooks,” he explained.

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