The Role of Carpenters in Jagannath Culture


The carpenters, similar to the DaitaPatis, are a ritual class of the Jagannath Temple in Puri. However, they are an independent subcaste, which is referred to as Badhei or Moharana. Their immense significance for the Jagannath Cult becomes apparent especially during the Ratha Yatra.

Nowadays, the carpenters have five key areas of service in Puri.
To begin with, every year, in collaboration with other craftsmen, they construct anew the three grand Chariots for the Rath Yatra.

Secondly,during the Nabakalebara, they go to the forests with the Daitapati and Brahmins to supervise the felling of the four holy trees.

Thirdly, during the Nabakalebara, they create fresh wooden images of the Lords.

Fourthly, they also construct a wooden supportive frame for the Gods before each pahandi (procession) during the Rath Yatra. Pahandi is the ceremony in which the Gods are carried from the sanctum sanctorum to the Rath.

Finally, they also contruct the structure on the boats, on which the various Gods are rowed over the Narendra Pokhari (Narendra Tank), during the 21 day long Chandan Yatra.

According to the Jagannath Sthala Vrttantamu, earlier the carpenters possessed more functions than today. For instance, they had to make three big fans (alata) before the Rath Yatra which were used for the Gods on the chariots. They also had to carve wooden kitchen utensils for the Suara, as well as construct houses and platforms out of wood in the temple.




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