Welcome to Khandayat Patna village of Rupadeipur Panchayat under Pipili Block in Puri district. This village assumes significance once in a year at the time of Dola Purnima.
At the very mention of Dola Purnima, the scenes of village deities, seated in decorated Bimanas (Palanquins) being taken out in procession around the village with followers smeared in different colours of ‘Abira’ in tow, flash in mind.
Minus the palanquin procession, the six-day long festival can’t be thought of.
Khandayat Patna village is best known for manufacturing decorative wooden palanquins. Fitted with wooden lattice, floral, animal and bird designs, these palanquins are truly a treat for eyes.
The family Ratnakar Maharana who are traditional carpenters has the sole legacy of manufacturing such palanquins in the village. They are in the business for generations now. Since it involves fine wood carving, it takes about a month to make a palanquin.
At the advent of the spring, Ratnakar’s family starts getting orders for palanquins not only from Puri but from other parts of the State also. Despite hardships, the family has kept the tradition alive.
This Dola Purnima is no different. Each of Ratnakar’s family members is busy giving final touches to the palanquins.
“We are in the tradition not for business but for keeping the art alive,” says Ratnakar.
Regarding the price a palanquin fetches, an artisan, Karunakar Maharana, says it varies with the size of the structure and the designs involved.
Ratnakar also provides training to those who have a penchant for art. Judhistir Maharana and Tapan Maharana, two artisans who are learning palanquin making, say they are happy working with the family as they get opportunities to learn the techniques of palanquin making.
In manufacturing palanquins, ‘Neem’, ‘Gambhari’, ‘Piasal’ and ‘Sishu’ logs are used. And the palanquins are also of different kinds like ‘Pancha Mundia’, ‘Eka Mundia’, ‘Jhulana Bimana’ and ‘Palanki Bimana’.
On the Dola Purnima day, deities are seated on the raised platforms in the lavishly decorated palanquins and then taken out in a procession around the village. After served with ‘bhog’ at each house in the village, they return to their respective abodes.