Amazing Facts About ‘Rathas’ of ShreeJagannath
The Construction of ‘Rathas’ ( Chariots) during ShreeJagannath’s Rathyatra at Puri
Have you ever heard of any such God who leaves his Ratna Simhasan ( gem stone throne ) and descends on the Bada danda ( grand road) to enable His devotees to see Him? He is none other than ShreeJagannath ( literally means the Lord of the universe). People following other religions except ‘Hinduism’ may complain of not being able to get inside the Jagannath temple, but Shree Jagannath can never withstand the barrier in between the devotees and the God , Himself. For that purpose, He prefers to come down the street during Rathyatra…..
Shree Jagannath, Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra travel in three unique chariots during the Rathyatra ( or the festival of chariots). Their chariots are named Nandighosha( Shree Jagannath’s chariot), Taladhwaja( Shree Balabhadra’s chariot) and Devadalana( Goddess Subhadra’s chariot) separately.
There are prescripted Ratha Silpa Sastra, which is being followed by the Biswakarma Sevaks year after year and generation after generation during Rathyatra at Puri.
Biswakarma Sevaks are those specific primary group of craftsmen who claim the inherited right to build the chariots.
The three different wooden chariots are constructed every year barring the Kalasa and ponies . 1072 bits of logs in total are brought from Dasapalla and Ranpur forest regions. Almost 125 craftsmen (inclusive of Bhoi Sevaks or dedicated helpers who help the skilled artisans in their work) labor for 58 days at the Mahakala (in front of the Srinahar or King’s palace) and shape out 2188 bits of wood for the development of three chariots. The construction work starts on the Akshya Trutiya. The chariot’s super construction (over the wheels) contains eighteen support points and rooftops at different stages which are known as bhuin, potala, parabhadi, and so forth. The chariot making process is confounded and there are 34 parts of each chariot. Each chariot contains nine auxiliary divinities (Parswa Devatas), two entryway attendants (Dwarapalas), one Charioteer (Sarathi) and one divinity for the top flag/ banner (Dhwaja Devata), all made of wood.Each chariot is covered with new fabrics of brilliant shading; almost 1090 meters of material are utilized. Each chariot is tied up with four long ropes made from coconut filaments . Devotees and pilgrims used to draw the chariots holding those coir ropes. Iron nails, sections, braces, and so on utilized for this object are natively ready by the local smiths.
Name: Nandighosa / Garudadhwaja / Kapidhwaja.
Height of Chariot: 13.5 m (45 feet)
Number of Wheels: 16
Diameter of wheels: 7’0″
Number of wooden pieces used: 832
Length & Breadth: 34’6″ x 34’6″
Colour of cloth canopy : Red & Yellow
Guarded by divinities : Garuda/Nrusingha
Dwarapalas( Gate Keepers) : Jay & Vijaya
Name of the Sarathi ( charioteer): Daruka
Name of the Flag: Trailokyamohini
Weapons of the Chariot: Sankha & Chakra
Power of the Chariot: Bimala & Biraja
Number of Ponies : 4
Name of the Ponies : Shankha, Balahaka, Shveta, Haridashva
Colour of Ponies: White
Name of the coir rope: Sankhachuda
Face of the Chariot known as: Nandi Mukha
Taladhwaja Ratha :
Height of Chariot: 13.2 m (44 feet)
Number of Wheels: 14
Diameter of wheels: 6’6″
Number of wooden pieces used: 763
Length & Breadth: 33’ x 33’
Colour of cloth canopy: Red & Green
Guarded by the divinity: Vasudev
Dwarapalas (Gate Keepers): Nanda & Sunanda
Name of the Sarathi (Charioteer): Matali
Name of the Flag: Unnani
Weapons of the Chariot: Hala & Musala
Power of the Chariot: Brahma & Shiva
Number of Ponies : 4
Name of the Ponies : Tibra, Ghora, Dirghashrama, Swarnanava
Colour of Ponies : Black
Name of the coir rope: Basuki
Face of the Chariot known as: Ketu Bhadra
Height of Chariot: 12.9 m (43 feet)
Number of Wheels: 12
Diameter of wheels: 6’0″
Number of wooden pieces used: 593
Length & Breadth: 31’6’’ x 31’6’’
Colour of cloth canopy : Red & Black
Guarded by the divinity : Jayadurga
Dwarapalas (Gate Keepers): Ganga & Jamuna
Name of the Sarathi(Charioteer): Arjuna
Name of the Flag: Nadambika
Weapons of the Chariot: Padma & Kalhar
Power of the Chariot: Bhubaneswari & Chakra
Number of Ponies : 4
Name of the Ponies : Rochika, Mochika, Jita, Aparajita
Colour of Ponies : Red
Name of the coir rope: Swarnachuda
Face of the Chariot known as: Bhakti Sumedha
Each and every part of these ‘Rathas’ is carved , planned, designed and executed with the collective effort of a large number of carpenters, metalsmiths, artisans, tailors and painters. The making of the Puri Rathas for the Jagannath Rath Yatra is the obligation of different groups of craftsmen who have been doing this since ages, generation after generation.
The creation of the chariot includes countless craftsmen and artisans with an assortment of extraordinary abilities. Each section of artisans and craftsmen make explicit parts of the chariots. Each section of artisans belongs to a particular Nijoga.
The fundamental groups of woodworkers and other craftsmen are as per the following-
Badhei Maharanas – The primary construction of the chariot is finished by this group of woodworkers. This principal bunch incorporates specific subcategories in light of their particular abilities and jobs allotted .
Gunakara – This group gives different estimations and standards of measurement of different parts of the Rath.
Pahi Maharanas – This section of carpenters fixes the wheels of the chariots.
Kamara Kanta Nayakas (Ojha Maharanas) – This section belongs to the ironsmith community who get ready nails, pins, braces, iron rings fixed inside axles, utilized as the external covering of the wooden wheels.
Chandakaras – This section of craftsmen transfer significant parts of the Rathas to the site and help in assembling and fixing them.
Rupakaras & Murtikaras
These section of carpenters and wood sculptors carve out images and shapes of different Parswadevatas in wood for enlivening the chariots.Ashta Manjari or eight female buddies fitted on the railing of each chariot is get ready by them.
Chitrakars (Painters and Artisans) – These artists make lines, drawings, and paint the chariots.. They likewise paint the body portions of different Parshwa Devatas fitted on the Chariots for beautification purposes.
Suchikaras (Daraji Sevakas) – This is a section of designers and tailors who get ready canopies, covers, material mantles, banners, and flags. This bunch additionally decorates the garments with appliqué work and different plans.
Ratha Bhois – This section of muscle men are driven by the Bhoi Sardar and they comprise dedicated workers who help the talented craftsmen in their work. Aside from this, various different craftsmen are also occupied with making the chariots.
Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath is not only the God of Odias only, He is the deity of the whole universe . Unique and wonderful is His human pastime. In the Kalinga architecture, temples are designed to resemble human bodies, such as PISHTA( (foundation), BADA( waist) , GANDI( waistline till neck), MASTAKA( head) and so on. In the same way, the deity who is worshipped inside the temple, is seen in human form. But of all the deities, Shri Jagannath is the most unique only for his human pastimes, such as taking a bath in 108 pots of water on a full moon bath and afterwards falling in fever, taking his brother and sister with him, and going out to the Gundicha temple on a new chariot ride …etc. Having said all these above mentioned details, I would like to invite all of you to come to Puri coinciding with the time of Rathyatra ( month of June/July) to witness all that pomp and gaity on your own.🙋♂️🌹🙏
Dr. Manoj Mishra