Puri is not only a land of temples, beaches and secnic spots, but also a land of fairs and festivals.
Every season in Puri brings a host of colourful fairs and festivals presenting joy to the visitors.
Out of all, the most significant is the Car Festival and it becomes most important when associated with the Navakalevara.
The term Navakalevara means New Body (Nava means New and Kalevara means Body).
During the Navakalevara ceremony the old figures of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Shubhadra are replaced by new onces.
The figure of Lord Jagannath shelters a mysterious Brahma Padartha (The Supreme Matter) and is known as Daru Brahma.
During Navakalevara this Daru Brahma (Prime-Soul enshrined in wood) of Lord Jagannath is also transferred from the old figure to the new one.
The Nabakalebara ceremony of the deities takes place in the year When the month of Asadha (June-July) happens to be
an intercalary month (Joda Asadha or two months of Asadha), which means when one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha. Generally this occurs once in every 12 years but not strickly so.
It may occur also in 8 years or 16 years or 19 years depending on the auspicious day. The idols that are currently being worshipped in the temple were installed in the year 1996
The Brahma Padartha (The Supreme Matter), mysteriously hidden within the body of Lord Jagannath is told to be the tooth of Buddha by the Buddhists.
Vaishnavas say it to be the Live Shalagrama (a pebble with natural symbols) which fell from heaven into the Gomati river of Nepal.
Shabaras have an interesting story to tell : as destined, Zara Shabara pierced an arrow into the feet causing death of Krishna at Mahendragiri.
Arjuna instructed the crying Zara to cremate.
But Zara could not burn Krishna's body completely and the navel portion remained unbrunt and the same was kept inside the initial deity worshipped by the tribals as Nilamadhaba.
This element is transferred from old deities to new ones in the dead hour of the night by hereditary functionary of the temple who is made to be completely blindfolded,
his hands and feet too wrapped with thick layers of silk ribbons so that the transferee can neither see nor feel anything about it.
Elaborate rituals, many myths and several spiritual events are associated to this auspicious festival. The strict procedure of the transformation have been cited in the Sanskrit manuscripts written on palm leaves which are kept in the temple.
The bodies of the deities are made of Neem (Margo) wood. The first step taken in this connection is the search of sacred daru (wood logs).Nobody knows from where to find the sacred wood to create the new idols, so as per the tradition a group formed to search the sacred wood. The search team consists of
|1 member of the Pati Mahapatra family|
|30 Police officers|
|2 Inspectors of Police|
The holy mission for searching of the woods begins after getting permission from Lord Jagannath & The King of Puri. The search team starts out for Kakatpur, a village 50 miles of Puri to the famous temple of Goddess Mangala. After reaching the Kakatpur village, they are taking bath in river Prachi and go to Mangala temple to pray Goddess Mangala (the presiding deity of Kakatapur) to help them to find the sacred wood.
The priests seelp in front of the Goddess with their face down (locally known as Adhia posture)
and then Goddess Mangala come in their dream and tell the exact locations of the sacred neem trees for all the deities.
This custom has been performed from years during navakalevara festival without any deviation.
Then the priests go to the dreamt locations on foot and match all the prerequisites which are required for the trees to qualify as the sacred tree for the deities.
Following are the prerequisites which are matched:
|They must have a wheel (chakra) sign on them|
|Poisonous snakes like Cobra must be hiding under them or in nearby ant hill|
|A tamarind tree must be in the vicinity|
|A funeral yard in the vicinity of each tree|
|Each tree must have 4 to 7 branches over the main trunk|
|From ground level upto 10/12 feet it should be straight and solid|
|No nest of birds on tree tops|
After the trees are located and selected, the rituals including homa (fire sacrifice) is performed
there to invite all demigods to give their blessings and cutting of the tree can start. First only the golden axe can touch the tree, then silver and after that iron axe can finish the work. 108 names of the Lord are chanted continuously.
A small cart with four wheels is made out of smaller branches of every tree and the main trunks of the trees are transported on these carts to Puri.
The cart is pulled all the way by the devotees of the villages it passes through.
|Tree with the symbolic mark of Wheel (chakra)||Tree with the symbolic mark of Mace (Gada)|
|Cobra representing Ananta Sesa||Fire sacrifice (Homa) is performed in front of the tree|
|Cutting of the tree||Daitapati carrying the log back to Puri|
At the entrance of Puri town there is a temple known as Alam Chandi temple. The carts loaded with the sacred Daru (wooden logs) are brought into Puri via the road in front of Alam Chandi temple. It is believed that Alam Chandi is supreme to sanctify the logs so that no harm is done at the time of shaping them to form the figures of the three deities. As per the tradition, after getting agnyamala (permission) from Goddess Alam Chandi the carts with Sacred wood enters into Puri and pulled all the way to reach the Jagannath Temple. The wood enters the Jagannath temple through its northen gate before the scheduled date of Annual Bathing Ceremony of the Deities (Devasnana Purnima).
The woods are kept in the Koili Baikuntha, situated in the northwest corner of the Temple. It is the place where the old deities will be buried and the new ones made.
From next day of the bathing ceremony the deities are carved out of the wood by the skilled carpenters called Biswakarma in secrecy, under the strict supervision and guidance of Daitapatis.
The three oldest Biswakarmas will be the main sculptors for the deity of Lord Jagannath.
The images of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra & Sudarshana are simultaneously carved by other two teams consisting of three carpenters each.
More than 50 carpenters work as assistant to the main carvers. The work is done with utmost privacy and not even the head priest of the temple is allowed to visit the place of work.
There is a special enclosure inside the temple premises where the carving of the Lord is done.
The enclosure is open on the top but is attached with very strong doors. The carpenters are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke inside the enclosure.
The carvings are completed in 21 days and during these 21 days the carpenters are not allowed to leave the temple premises.
They would sleep in the temple premises in the night and eat Mahaprasad. Devotional songs & shlokas from the Vedas chanted continuously outside the Koili Baikuntha day and night during these 21 days.
Before Asadha Chaturthy night the new deities are made completely and are carried inside the inner sanctum only by descendants of the Daitapati family of the temple and placed in front of the old deities facing them.
This ritual is also done with supreme privacy and nobody is allowed to go inside. On this specific night at midnight hours the Brahma Padartha (The Supreme Matter) is transferred from old deity to new one by hereditary functionary of the temple who is made to be completely blindfolded,
his hands and feet too wrapped with thick layers of silk cloths so that the transferee can neither see nor feel anything about it.
As per tradition the rights of the Great Transformation are permitted only to the Daitapatis as they are considered to be the descendants of the Daitapati who was the first worshipper of the Lord Jagannath.
To finish the installation, the Brahma Padartha must be transferred from the old deity and placed in the heart region of the new deity.
The secret ritual is performed on Amavasaya (dark moon) in the total darkness of midnight in the temple surrounded by the town of Puri,
which is completely devoid of any electric light at this time because the government cuts off the electric supply.
Thereafter, the old images are buried in the Koili Baikuntha. Koili means "burial ground" and Baikuntha means "Heaven".
Following table provides the details of the place from where the sacred Neem trees found for the Deities in previous Navakalevaras.