Pradeep Pattanayak

The much-awaited 'Chaka Dera niti' (ritual for initiation of fixing wheels to chariots axels) was performed amid the chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and ‘Hari Bol’ in the presence of servitors at the Ratha Khala (chariot construction yard) in Puri on Friday. 

The ritual was conducted after the arrival of ‘agyan malas’ (divine garland of consent) from Lord Jagannath and his siblings. 

The Chaka Dera ritual of Lord Balabhadra’s chariot, ‘Taladhwaja’ was first performed followed by Lord Jagannath’s chariot, ‘Nandighosha’ and Devi Subhadra’s ‘Darpadalana’ chariot. Bhoi and Biswakarma Maharana servitors performed the rituals with the atmosphere reverberating with the chants of ‘Jai Jagannath’ and ‘Hari Bol’. 

“After the arrival of ‘agyan mala’, we first fixed the wheels and axels of Lord Balabhadra’s chariot. Then the wheels and axles of Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra were fixed. It was a great occasion for us,” said servitor, Rabi Bhoi. 

Chief Administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Ranjan Das said, “The ritual was performed in the presence of servitors, senior officials of the SJTA and the district administration and devotees. We hope all the rituals will be observed peacefully.”

“I hope the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings will conclude without any trouble,” said a female devotee. 

As per tradition, the Chaka Dera ritual is conducted on the occasion of 'Bhaunri Jatra,' the last day of the 'Bahara Chandan Yatra' of the deities. After the conclusion of the Bahara Chandan Jatra, the remaining 21 days of the Bhitara Chandan Jatra will be completed within the premises of Shree Jagannath Temple.

The chariot construction started on the auspicious Akshay Tritiya. Meanwhile, 21 days have passed and of the 42 wheels of three chariots, the construction has been completed for 30 wheels. 

For the safety of the servitors engaged in chariot construction, this year too, the servitors have been provided with insurance cover up to Rs 5 lakh. In case of any mishap at the construction yard, the affected servitors would be provided the assistance money. 

In order to ensure chariot construction is finished well before the set time and as the servitors consider the chariot construction period as the most auspicious one, the temple administration has made special sattvic food arrangements for them at Panthanivas. 

“The administration has provided many facilities to us. We are working from 8 am to 8pm. During this period, we are provided with good quality and sufficient food. That apart, we have also been insured,” said Karatia servitor, Ranjit Maharana.

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