Mrunal Manmay Dash

The collection of wood for the next Rath Yatra in 2023 began in the forests of Nayagarh on Tuesday.

The identification and collection process began after offering worship to Maa Badaraula, the presiding Goddess of the Badamula jungle and formally inviting the Goddess to Rath Yatra.

Following the puja, two separate teams set out in different directions in the forest where they will search for Asana, Dhaura, Simili and Fasi trees and collect timber, which will be used to construct chariots for Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra.

Earlier on Monday, a four-member team led by Supervisor, Sudarshan Mekap from Srimandir in Puri had arrived at the office of Nayagarh DFO with the Agyanmala.

As per reports, a total of 747 logs are required to build chariots for next Rath Yatra. Though 865 logs are required for the chariots, the rest 118 logs are in left-over stock collected last year.

Speaking about the lesser number of logs, Nayagarh DFO, Khyama Sarangi said, "We had provided more than the required number of logs last year. So they currently have 118 logs at Puri. The remaining 747 logs will be collected from this jungle this year."

"We have a requirement of 747 logs this year including Asana, Dhaura and Fasi logs. We will start the logging process after identifying the trees," said Sudarshan Mekap who is supervising the entire operation.

After the timbers arrive at Puri, the chariot-making work will begin on the day of Ganesh Puja. Normally, 865 pieces of different types of logs are used for construction of the chariots every year.

Notably, the State government and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in 2001 had taken up Jagannath Bana Prakalpa, a special afforestation programme for ensuring sustained timber supply for Rath Yatra. However, concerns were raised over availability of sufficient wood for the coming Rath Yatra owing to rapid deforestation and loss of forest cover in several cyclones.

Allaying the fears, the government had claimed in June 2022 that there will be no shortage of timber for Rath Yatra of the Holy Trinity for the next 20 years.