Archive for June, 2012

Rath Yatra – Lord Jagannath’s Journey Out

Jagannath Rath yatra

Jagannath Rath yatra

Today is the world famous Chairot Festival of Lord Jagannath of Puri. The festival is one of the most awaited festivals of Odisha and see mass congregation of people in the sleepy town of Puri  for the divine visualization of the Lord Jagannath. The practice which for a eons have been effected out in Puri turns it into a cauldron of human sea with over 10-15 lakh visitor on one single day.

The Lord who leaves his temple to vist His aunt’s place once a year is carried to a chariot which is then drawn to the neighboring Mausi maa temple. This practice provides an opportunity to people to have a vision of the Lord in full glory and without any hindrance. This practice in itself is significant in many ways.

In the Hindu philosophy, the Upanishads use the metaphor of a chariot  to explain the importance of the human body and intellect. While the human body is  believed to be chariot the spirit is compared to Lord Jagannath. The spirit dawns the body chariot for  a short duration. While in the body, all efforts should be made to realize the self.

Apart from philosophical significance, the practice has religious historical importance too. The chariot had an immense significance in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Arjuna as a passenger was seated at the back of the chariot driven  by the charioteer Lord Krishna. The same practice is repeated here. Many  believe that the custom of placing the idols on the grand chariots and pulling them has a Buddhist origin. Fa Hien, the Chinese historian , who visited India in the fifth century AD , had written about the chariot of  the Buddha being pulled along the public roads.

Among other, the chariot constructed for Lord Jagannath ,Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra for the Rath yatra is unique and quite significant in many ways. The construction of chariots is an ancient practice which in itself is as unique as the festival of the Rath yatra. Per traditions the chariots of Lord  Jagannath are created every year  at “Rathakhala” at the Bada Danda ( Grand Road) in Puri. Since the last few years, the responsibility of the construction of the three chariots in Puri has been taken over by the state government, which earlier was the sole prerogative of the Gajapati of Puri.

The construction of the chariots has always been a natural process and has been done  in the same way throughout but with time certain changes have taken place. If one analyses the nitty-gritty  of the construction of the chariots, one will readily understand that it is not an easy task. Round the clock work of many people are needed to give shape to the chariot of the lord.

Earlier, the workers engaged in the construction of the chariots used to begin their work on the days of “Dola Purnima” and it used to end on the day when the chariots were dismantled. However these days the construction of the chariots is done on the day of “Akshay tritya”.

Many changes have taken place down the line in the nature and tradition of the work of the chariot-makers, servitors and the architects associated with construction. Earlier there were seven main architects who were responsible for the construction of the chariots and they were known as the  “ Saptarathkar” ( Seven carpenters/architects). They created seven section (“nijog”) under them and each of them used to play a distinct role. They were

1.Gunakar – The architects responsible for everything related to construction like  measurement

2. Mukhyarathakar – The main carpenter who constructed the vital portion of the chariots

3. Lohakar -Black smiths who used to prepare and arrange all equipments and weapons like irons, nails, clamps needed for the chariots

4.  Chekkar – The workers who arranged the wood and provided it during the construction

5. Rupakar  – Sculptors who made the statues of the deites and decorated the chariots

6. Chitrakar  – The painter who painted the chariots and other designs on the chariots

7. Sutikars –  The tailors who made dresses and decorated the chariots.

But with time, the “Saptakar” have been replaced with 36 servitors who are concerned with the construction of the chariots. Apart from these 36 servitors the total number of servitors who perform various services on the chariots has gone up to 64. These include the work and services of person responsible for arranging the wood, cutting the wood, carting it off to Puri, arranging the rope for the chariot, the gongs and many other services. Today the services of the Chief architect, sculptor, painter and tailor are the most important.

Odiya Contender for Senator in US

Bikram Keshari Mohanty

Bikram Keshari Mohanty

From Obama to Schwarzenegger the US has seen them all. The list of non residents who strive for the senator’s job has been increasing in US with every passing year and so also has the list of Indians who keep on joining the fray with every passing election. However this is the first time that a man from Odisha is being fielded as a candidate for a state senate in the US.

Bikram Keshari Mohanty, an occupational therapist in the US who originally hails from the Chandbali block of Bhadrak district of Odisha has been fielded as a candidate by the Democratic Party from Valdosta district in the state of Georgia. Bikram who has been a resident of the US for the last sixteen years, is the owner and CEO of an organization called Innovative Rehab Solutions that provides physiotherapy solutions to residents in the area.

Bikram, who had done his post graduation in physiotherapy from the National Institute of Orthopedics in Kolkata in 1994, has been practicing actively in Valdosta ever since he arrived in the US sixteen years back.

Son of Batakrushna Mohanty, a staff at the sub registrar office at Chandbali, Bikram was one of the most vocal boys in the locality as a young boy and had shown immense interest in philanthropic activities even in his academic years in Bhadrak College. He had volunteered  for many humanitarian activities in Chandbali district  and was actively involved in helping out the victims of the super cyclone in Bhadrak district in 1999.After the news of Bikram’s nomination reached Chandbali, it has been the talk of entire town and several people have expressed their  good wishes for the enthusiast.

The good work that he started in his home town continued even in his US home and he remained active in the field of social services even there by founding a  nonprofit organization in the name of Mother Teressa Foundation that serves the low income and homeless Americans. Earlier he had also served in the Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce from 2002 to 2003. And as he got appointed as a candidate from Georgia in a conference to contest the elections, he became the first odiya to contest elections for a senator post in US.

We wish him luck and fortune!


Bharat Bandh costs Bhubneswar Crores

Bharat Bandh

Bharat Bandh

The bandh called by the ruling Biju Janata Dal  coinciding with the nationwide strike observed by national democratic alliance  and the left parties to protest the steepest ever hike in the petroleum prices forced most of the business establishment, financial institution and banks in the state capital to remain close even as the transportation came to a standstill.

The political shutdown is estimated to have cost a loss of around Rs 20 Crore in major economic activities in the city. Bhubnaeswar goods transport association DGTA, the body of truckers and goods transport companies which participate in the bandh calculate the business loss during the day at Rs 5 crore. Everyday some hundreds of trucks carrying fish, chicken, potatoes, onions and vegetables, garments etc reach Bhubnaeswar from the neighboring states. The shutdown however forced the vehicles to remain off the roads causing this interminable loss to the city traders.

The traders however maintained that their association whole heartedly supported the bandh as any increase in petrol or diesel prices affects the transporter directly. Above 1,000 petrol pumps in the state also remained close in the evening causing a loss of around Rs 50 crore. While the dealers across the state suffered a loss of Rs 50 Crores, the loss borne by the dealers of Bhubnaeswar went on tp RS 2 Crore .

The life line of the city – Auto rickshaws also did not ferry passengers as the three wheelers often turn easy targets of the protesters during such strikes. The auto rickshaws staying off the road caused a loss of nearly Rs 1 crore in terms of gross income and half of that in terms of profit. The Bhubnaeswar Auto rickshaw Mahhasangh has over 17,000 registered autos with it. Apart from this, the bandh affected tourism related economic activities  in the city forcing tour operators and travel planners to keep their vehicles off the road.

Major markets in the city were no exception as they suffered huge losses thanks to the shutdown. Unit –I daily market, one of the biggest centers of trade and commerce remained closed throughout the day. We suffered a business loss of Rs 10 crore as all the wholesalers as well as retailers shut down their shop. Similarly the loss in revenues suffered by banks is estimated to be around Rs 100 crore.