Port Blair: The yearly Jagannath Ratha was celebrated with great joy and fervor on 18th July all over Andaman including Port Blair, Billiground, Little Andaman and Diglipur. The grand event features a ceremonial procession of the idols of the deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, which are taken in a chariot from the temple to their Mausi’s home. It is believed that the Yatra has been arranged by Lord Jagannath to give darshan to all his devotees in the world or Jagat.
There is something special about this year’s yatra as it involved the replacement of the old idols with new ones, also known as Nabakalebar. The centuries old ritual of Nabakalebar takes place once in every 12-19 years. It is a part of the tradition of the main Jagannath Temple at Puri, Odisha. Nabakalebar involves the cremation of the old idols of the deities, Sri Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and new idols made of sacred wood are kept in the temple.
As a part of the tradition, new idols from Puri were given to temples of Lord Jagannath in Andaman by the UtkalSamaj. These temples include the Port Blair Rajasthan Temple, Billiground Radha Govind Temple, Rangat Radha Govind Temple and Digilipur Radha Govind Temple, where the new idols were ceremoniously installed during the Nabakalebar Utsav. Also, a priest was called from Odisha by Utkal Samaj to ensure that all the rituals were performed in accordance with the Jagannath tradition.
The custom of Chera Pahara, which involves sweeping of the chariot, was performed by at Port Blair Rath Yatra by Sri Bishnu Pada Ray, Member of Parliament from Andaman. The Yatra was attended by devotees from different communities, who pulled the chariot from Jagannath Mandir at Rajasthan Temple to MausiMandir at Utkal Samaj. The Yatra made its way through venues such as Gandhi Park, Aberdeen Bazar, Bengoli Club, Clock Tower, Jungli Ghat and VIP Road.
There was a wonderful atmosphere in the procession, as devotees chanted Lord Jagannath’s name all the way, along with the sacred sound of Ghants. Voluntary services were provided during the Yatra by devotees, religious committees and sevasadans. According to the ritual, the idols of the deities will be housed on the premises of Utkal Samaj for the coming nine days, following which they will be taken back to the Jagannath Temple in the return yatra. The ritual, which is traditionally known as the Bahuda Yatra, is scheduled for 26th July 2015.