Bhubaneswar: The Banajaga Yatra, the beginning of the Nabakalebara ritual to make new idols of Lord Jagannath and his siblings, began in Puri on Sunday with the launch of the search for the sacred wood for the idols.
Gajapati Dibya Singh Dev, of the erstwhile royal family of Puri who is also the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, gave the go-ahead for the Banajaga expedition.
The Banajaga Yatra is the expedition for search of wood from neem trees for carving out new idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra as well as Lord Sudarshan. The last Nabakalebara took place in 1996.
An official of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration said around 150 servitors will be part of the around one-and-half-month-long yatra to select the neem trees.
Temple administrator Suresh Mohapatra said the yatra will begin on Monday night.
The temple administration on Saturday announced the names of ‘daitapatis’ (servitors), who will act as Biswabasu and Vidyapati, who play prominent roles in finding the right wood for making the idols.
Biswabasu was the tribal king who was one of the first devotees of Lord Jagannath.
Vidyapati married Biswabasu’s daughter and was also a great devotee of Lord Jagannath.
Binayak Dasmohapatra, who was appointed Biswabasu, said: “On the midnight of March 30, we will commence our journey towards Deuli mutt at Kakatpur in Puri. After a prophesy in our dreams by Maa Mangala about the location of darus (wood), we will move out in search of the darus in different directions.”
Puri Superintendent of Police Asish Kumar Singh said elaborate security arrangements have been made for the yatra.