Nabakalebara : 9 Days of Celebrations
With the arrival of the presiding deities on their respective chariots at the Gundicha temple, the first phase of Nabakalebara Rath Yatra has come to an end. When the deities are supposed to be spending their vacations at the Gundicha temple till Bahuda Yatra (return car festival), a few auspicious rituals would be solemnized at this temporary abode of the divine idols for seven days (excluding both the days of entry in and exit from the Gundicha temple, which remains vacant most part of the year) as per the Nabakalebara schedule.
At Gundicha temple, the deities are worshipped by Brahmin temple priests as against the non-Brahmin Daitapati servitors who worship the idols on chariots. The devadasis, performing a role in deviation from the traditions, offer worship to the deities in the absence of Goddess Laxmi in the manner akin to that of the main temple. Goddess Laxmi wasn’t given a chance to accompany her husband Lord Jagannath to Gundicha temple, held back at the main shrine, much to her disappointment and annoyance.
Like Goddess Gundicha is commonly smeared with sandalwood paste, during their stay here the images of the deities are smeared with sandalwood paste, twice a day, for inducing coolness, apart from getting elegantly dressed up with new ones daily.
Following the Nabakalebar-2015 schedule, on the fifth day of the car festival a major ceremony is observed at the Gundicha temple, known as Hera Panchami (Hera means ‘seeing’). On this day the infuriated Goddess Laxmi, for being left alone at the main temple, arrives at Gundicha temple in the form of ‘Subarna Mahalaxmi’ on a palanquin in a procession with much fanfare. Then she is taken to Lord Jagannath at the sanctum sanctorum and made sit face-to-face with her husband. She requests her husband to return to Jagannath temple and He in exchange gives an “agyan mala” (garland of consent), which she takes back to the main temple in the same evening. However, in a bid to vent her ire, on the return way, she orders one of her attendants to damage a part of Nandighosha, the chariot of Lord Jagannath. This ritual is known as Ratha Bhanga (breaking of chariot). After this act, she escapes to Jagannath temple through one diverted path, known as Hera Gohiri lane, just to ward off the repercussion of the deed.
Another ritual is Dakshina Moda, which marks the commencement of Rasa Lila of Lord Jagannath, observed for the last three days of the deities at Gundicha temple. The image of Lord Jagannath is taken to Rasa Mandap at Gundicha temple and the interaction between Jagannath-Krishna and Gopis is enacted through verses of Gita Govinda. As Mahaprasad is not cooked in Jagannath temple until the end of Bahuda Yatra, the deities are offered Prasad cooked at Gundicha temple. On Bahuda Yatra, the deities exit the Gundicha temple through Nakachana gate, and are made to return on the same chariots to the main shrine in ceremonial procession similar to Rath Yatra. Millions of devotees throng on the Grand Road at Puri to witness the chariots pulled back to Jagannath temple on Bahuda Yatra day exactly 8 days from Ratha Yatra, as per the Puri Rath Yatra schedule.
So, come pack your baggage and make a move to the holy land or Jagannath Dham to witness the splendor of a location which held the first Nabakalebara festival this century!.
How to reach:
By Air: Nearest airport is Biju Pattnaik International Airport at Bhubaneswar.
By Train: There are several trains connecting from all places of the country to Puri.
By Road: Connected with the State Capital Bhubaneswar with wide four laned National Highway at a distance of 60 kms