Pradeep Pattanayak

The fear of timbers falling short for the construction of three chariots for the holy Trinity in Puri crops up during this time every year. 

As per the centuries-old tradition, as many as 865 trunks of Phasi, Asan and Dhaura trees are required for chariot construction every year. And it has long been the tradition that the chariots are dismantled after the festival. In the event of the timber shortage problem should arise, the age old tradition may get tweaked and dismantling of chariots would be stopped.

According to Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee member Madhab Chandra Mahapatra, the members had raised the issue of shortage of timbers and sandalwood in the recently concluded meeting. 

“In response to our concern, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb said that he would go and create awareness among people in Khordha and Nayagarh to plant a tree for meeting future demand of timbers for chariot construction. He laid emphasis that each of us should plant a tree,” said Mahapatra. 

“In the Code of Conduct for chariots, it has clearly been laid out that all the required timbers will be procured from Nayagarh division. But as of now we have been procuring them even from other areas like Ganjam which turns out to be expensive also,” informed Mahapatra. 

When asked about the present condition of Jagannath Bana Prakalpa, Mahapatra said this specific forest, inaugurated by the Gajapati himself, doesn’t have the required Phasi, Dhaura and Asan trees, which speaks volume of the forest department’s failure. 

Mahapatra also expressed concern about the availability of required amount of sandalwood for the rituals observed at the temple round the year. 

“Every year, around four quintals of sandalwood is required for the festivals and rituals at the temple. Prior to 2011, the required sandalwoods were procured from Karnataka. After Veerappan issue, we started procuring them from Tamil Nadu. Since all the temples and religious institutions across India depend on Tamil Nadu for sandalwood, we are having problem in getting the total requirement from them. Meanwhile, the State government has decided to provide 1.5 quintals of sandalwood to Srimandir free of cost,” informed Mahapatra. 

“This shortage has forced us to look for other options. It has been decided that we would go for searching of best quality of sandalwood in our State and procure them,” added Mahapatra.