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Nabakalabara Festival 2015

Nabakalabara Grand Festival of Lord Jagannath

  The word Nabakalebar denotes the new body in Odia language and the deities of the grand temple Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan undergo exactly the same on the great occasion.   The new wooden idols are carved and old ones are cremated by following the prescribed rites as mentioned in the centuries old scriptures.   This change-over of bodies takes place once every 8 to 18 years depending on the almanac positions as per the Hindu calendar. It is usually held in a year when the month of Asadha is followed by another Asadha. Accordingly the previous 'Nabakalebars' took place in the years 1969, 1978, and 1996; and the forthcoming one will be held in the year 2015.   “Just as one gives up worn out clothes and puts on new ones, even so does the embodied self give up decrepit bodies and enter new ones,” says the Geeta. Lord Jagannath is but a reflection of human existence encompassing all its facets.   With the forthcoming Nabakalebar slated to be held in the year 2015, the preparations for the same are on war footing. Both age-old complicated religious ritual leading to preparation of wooden idols to huge preparation on infrastructure front keeping in view massive turnout of devotees. Crowd management, law and order, health issues, transport, parking and many more, Odisha Government is working overtime to meet the deadline well in advance.   On religious front the temple priests have to identify the holy tree with a group of search team members as prescribed in the temple records, tracing the trees with support of divine dream during their stopover at Kakatpur, the abode of Goddess Mangala, Carving of the idols, transfer of Bramha from old to new idol and finally the sacred burial happens to be major rituals leading to Nabakalebar of Lords.   The most arduous part of the rite is to identify the appropriate trees out of which the idols of the deities are to be carved out.   Only Neem tree is suitable to be used for the purpose. The log of the Neem tree out of which the idol of Lord Jagannath is to be carved out should be dark in colour, while the remaining trees which are to be used for the other deities should be of normal whitish colour.  

Stringent Norms for Neem Log

The tree to be used for the idol of Lord Jagannath should fulfill many conditions. It should have four principal branches symbolizing the four arms of Vishnu. There should be no nest of birds in that tree. Any water body such as a river or a pond should exist nearby. There should also be a cremation ground in the vicinity. Also there has to be a snake pit and ant hill near the root of the tree. No creeper should have mounted on it. There should be a natural impression of sankha (conch shell) and chakra (wheel) on the trunk of the tree.   However the interesting part of it is that the location of such a tree is indicated to the head of the search team by Goddess Mangala in a dream and accordingly the logs are collected after performing of rituals prescribed.  

The Transfer of Soul

After the idols are carved a holy mass representing the divine spirit lying at the navel of the old idols is taken out and shifted into the new idols. This is the same mysterious holy mass that has remained with the idols since time immemorial.   After the newly carved idols are carried into the sanctum sanctorum the transformation rite takes place in the presence of the Daitapatis only. They are the authorized ones to transfer 'Brahma' from the old idols to the new. Even the head priest is not allowed to remain present on that occasion.   The daitapati who carries 'Brahma Pinda' from one idol to the other is also blindfolded so that even he cannot see what he is carrying.   On the very day of transfer of Bramha old idols are cremated in the Koli Baikuntha garden of the temple.  

Lords Appear with New Body

After the burial of the old idols the new deities are immediately seated in the Ratna Singhasan. The next day the rite of coronation of the Lord and his siblings takes place by following the directions mentioned in ancient scriptures of the temple.   On the third day of the coronation the grand Ratha Yatra takes place and millions of devotees are able to see the Lord in the new form.  

Massive Preparations by Government

The temple administration is all set to hold the Nabakalebar festival of 2015 in a grand manner. The servitors of the temple are getting prepared to carry out their duties in the best possible manner on the occasion while innumerable devotees around the world are eagerly looking forward to be the blessed ones to be able to witness the grand celebration.   Nearly 25 lakh devotees are expected to throng Puri to witness the famous festival in which the idols of the Trinity will be changed.   Massive road boost is planned by the state Government. Apart from renovation and widening of roads inside the city all approaching roads have been on massive makeover. New roads, diversions in National High Way and other connections are also being taken up.   Doubling process of rail track is also being taken up in war footing and is expected to be completed well in advance.   Massive parking lots outside the city, makeshift accommodation arrangement are being planned as huge number of devotees is expected well in advance and many of them could stay longer.  

Priests to Get Biometric Identity Cards

The Jagannath temple administration in Puri has decided to introduce a biometric attendance system for about 2,000 priests at the 12th century shrine before Nabakalabara.   The system would be introduced only after the distribution of identity cards to servitors before Nabakalabara.  

Nabakalebar Tower to Showcase Jagannath Culture

The Jagannath Temple Administration is constructing an ultramodern tower, adjacent to the shrine office, at Grand Road in Puri to showcase and sell publications and paintings of Lord Jagannath.   The complex would also house a state-of-the-art library and research centre on the presiding deities of the temple. At present, the pilgrim town does not have a dedicated centre where scholars and devotees can conduct research on Jagannath's art and culture.  

Dedicated FM Radio

FM radio station of the temple would also be set up in the tower. The service would be commissioned at a cost of around Rs 4 crores to disseminate information about Jagannath culture. The shrine body plans to air devotional songs, daily rituals and discourses, related to Lord Jagannath everyday.  

Social Media promotions

The tower would have another information and broadcasting wing to operate the proposed social networking sites to be linked with Jagannath Temple. National Informatics Centre (NIC), a Central Government institution that provides e-Government/e-Governance solutions in the country, is giving finishing touches to the design and contents of the webpage dedicated to the reigning deities.

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