Jagannath Puri Yatra

Nabakalebara Festival Puri

The ritual of Nabakalebara is one of the most important ceremonies that is associated with the Rath Yatra festival of Jagannath Puri. The literal meaning of Nabakalebara is ‘Naba’ which means ‘New’ and ‘Kalebara’ means ‘Body. During the ceremony, the old wooden figures of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra, Goddess Shubadra & Sri Sudarshan are replaced with new images. The festival occurs after the period of 8 or 12 or 19 years.

Nabakalebara Festival in Puri

The ceremony takes place in the month of June-July. During this period, the temple remains closed for general public as the new deities are engraved in the Nirmana Mandap (Construction Hall). Since the wooden images of the deities are constructed from the Neem (Margo) wood, these images are ritualistically changed after everyh decade or so.

Collection of Daru (Wood) for Deities    

The wooden images of the deities are carved from the sacred Neem tree. The first step in the Navakalevara ceremony is to find the sacred trees. The search team comprising of the head priests and others visit the village of Kakatpur to seek blessings from the Goddess Mangala. It is believed that the Goddess appears in the dream the head priest and discloses the location of the sacred trees.

Cutting of Daru for New Deities

After matching of all prerequisites, the rituals including homa (fire sacrifice) is performed there to invite all demigods to give their blessings and cutting of the tree can start. First only the golden axe can touch the tree, then silver and after that iron axe can finish the work. As popularly believed, it is not permissible to look at uncovered Daru because viewing a Daru in that state is considered as a great sin.

Carving of New Deities & Burial of Old Deities

After the cutting of the sacred trees, the deities are carved out of the wood by the skilled carpenters called Biswakarma in secrecy, under the strict supervision and guidance of Daitapatis. The carvings are completed in 21 days and during these 21 days the carpenters are not allowed to leave the temple premises.

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Published Date: July 2, 2016
Last Updated On: September 14, 2016
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