Pradeep Pattanayak

With the idols of 'Parsva' Deities (side deities/Ratha Sakhis) of the three chariots in Puri being damaged by termites due to lack of proper maintenance, servitors demanded the establishment of a museum for their conservation.

The wooden figures of ‘Sakhi’, ‘Parshwa Devadevi’ and ‘Sarathi’ are generally crafted at the time of ‘Nabakalabera’.

The disfigured ‘Sakhi’ idols were created at the time of 1996 Nabakalebara. During the last Rath Yatra, they were in good condition. When verified for their use in the upcoming Rath Yatra, the ‘Rupakar’ servitors found them to have been disfigured by termites. They even said that they don’t have enough time to construct them anew. 

Also Read: Proper detailing of ornaments in Srimandir Ratna Bhandar should be done: Puri King 

Senior ‘Rupakar’ servitor (craftsman) Krushnachandra Mohapatra demanded a museum in the heritage project. 

“It seems, the chariots will have a lesser number of ‘Sakhi’ idols as some have been damaged by termites,” said Purnachandra Mohapatra, a Rupakar servitor.  

In 2020 when COVID-19 was at its peak, it was planned that the three chariots would be preserved. It was then planned to dismantle the chariots carefully and preserve the parts in a museum. 

Some senior servitors demanded that the temporary museum set up on the Jagannath Ballabh Mutt premises at the time of the heritage project’s inauguration should be transformed into a permanent museum to preserve the dismantled parts. 

“Most people don’t know the different parts of the chariots. If the dismantled parts are preserved, people can know many things about the chariots,” said Balakrushna Moharana, a Vishwakarma servitor. 

“If the temporary museum on the premises of Jagannath Ballabh is converted into a permanent museum, people will be benefited,” said Sangram Keshari Das, executive officer, Jagannath Ballabh Mutt. 

Some devotees have also demanded a museum where they can see all the 25 ‘beshas’ of the deities. 

“If museums are set up around the temple, devotees can spend some quality time and have the opportunity to know various things about Lord Jagannath,” said Himanshu Mishra, a devotee. 

When asked, Law Minister Prithiviraj Harichandan said, “We will soon take a decision and initiate steps to preserve the ‘Sakhi’ idols and other side deities of the chariots.”

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