Amid the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, conduct of Rath Yatra has been restricted across Odisha this year as well. There is disappointment among devotees for being unable to have darshan of their deities. However, in order to take you a bit closer to the Lord, here is an interesting piece of Jagannath history that is not known to everyone.
Very few would know that Jagannath culture in Keonjhar is as old as thousand years. Keonjhar was earlier part of the state of Mayurbhanj. Keonjhar became an independent state in 1128 (C.E) and researchers believe that this marked the beginning of the Jagannath culture in Keonjhar. Lord Jagannath’s idol was established in the Siddhi Matha of Keonjhar and worshipped.
According to researchers, during the reign of Gopinath Bhanja in the year 1406, the chariot pulling ceremony of Lord Jagannath began. During those times, a small chariot with just eight-wheels was used during the Car Festival.
However, in the year 1461 after Trilochan Bhanja took over reins of the state, he visited Puri. Under the commandership of Trilochan’s son, Gobinda Bhanja, Lord Jagannnath and Balabhadra undertook the Kanchi Abhiyan as soldiers. After returning victorious from Kanchi, the King visited Puri and witnessed the gigantic chariot and the massive Srimandir Temple before heading back to Keonjhar.
This is when he conceptualised the idea of establishing a temple & creating a chariot even bigger than Puri. However, it never materialised. In 1654, when Lakhminarayan Bhanja became the king of Keonjhar he wanted to fulfil the dreams of his ancestors and began construction of the Lord Jagannath’s temple.
However, the temple was smaller. In the year 1671, the temple in Keonjhar was inaugurated and since then the tradition of constructing gigantic 72-feet-tall chariot for the Car Festival started. Lord Baladevjew is worshipped in the temple, but the chariot is known as Nandighosha.
Another unique tradition of this Ratha Jatra is that the chariots are pulled using Siadi ropes, which are made by local tribal communities from Siadi creepers.
Published: Diptiranjita Patra
Last updated: 15 July 2021, 08:04 PM IST
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