Tahia of Lord Jagannath captivates all; Its maker feels blessed

Puri: The captivating scene of the crown or tahia of Lord Jagannath swinging and moving like waves, makes the heart of devotees skip a beat. During the Pahandi on Rath Yatra when the three sibling deities come out of their abode, no matter how far a devotee is standing on the Grand Road, the moving tahia indicates the Lord’s motion. Within a few moments, the devotees claim their share of the Lord’s blessing by tearing off the tahia and the maker of the crown quietly but smilingly watches his efforts of months disappear into fragments.

“The happiness to see the devotion for Lord Jagannath is much more than the pain to see the tahia, so meticulously created with complete dedication and spiritual fervour, disappear within minutes. I’m no different from the other devotees. It is all for the brotherhood, the fraternity of the Lord’s followers and I also love to see the downpour of affection when servitors snatch away bits of tahia to keep a souvenir of our deity,” says 40 year old Basant Kumar Rana, who has been preparing the crown for the deities since 1996.

Hailing from the family of servitors entrusted with the duty of decoration or ‘besha’ of the Trinity of Srimandir, Basant, along with his friends Satyanarayan and Santosh, begins crafting the three tahias for the three sibling deities from Akshay Tritiya day, almost two months before Rath Yatra.

“I prepare the tahias for both Rath Yatra and Bahuda Yatra. The sizes differ for both days. On Rath Yatra, smaller tahias are used compared to Bahuda to help the deities come out of the temple easily as the entrance of Srimandir is smaller than Gundicha temple,” Basant says.

Using bamboo, cane, banana stem, sola, zari and other colourful elements, the framework of the gorgeous tahias are prepared first. It is adorned with real flowers like rangini, duba, tulasi and various fragrant flowers just before Rath Yatra day. Before that the chitrakara sevayats or painters of the temple add touches of organic colours to these crowns that the deities flaunt while coming out of the temple during Pahandi.

“The emotions I feel while preparing the tahia is not easy to explain. Throughout the period I’m completely dedicated to this duty and piousness and spiritual calmness descends on my mind. As if I do nothing at all, rather the Lord is getting the work done through me,” shares the craftsman.

While he had learnt the craft since childhood, he is yet to pass it on to the next generation. “I’m a bachelor so I will pass on this knowledge to child sevayats of some other servitor family,” plans Basant.

And asked how he feels to see the deities adorn the crown he creates on Rath Yatra day, Basant says, “I’m an insignificant being but a bit of me unites with the Lord when He wears the tahia that every devotee identifies with the Lord himself when he comes out during Pahandi.”