Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Gadakuntunia, Apr 16:
The mahayagna, the much awaited event that would culminate in the felling of the daru (neem tree with special attributes) tomorrow, started amid great religious fervour early this morning at this humble village on the outskirts of the Odisha capital that has turned into an impromptu place of pilgrimage for thousands of devotees.
The mahayagna is the ritual that would transform the daru with divine signs to mahadaru, the timber out of which the earthly body of the Lord Sudarshan will be carved, to be later infused with the brahma of the Lord. It would last for about 48 hours and end with purnaahuti tomorrow after which the tree will be felled.
Before the mahayagna began, the Vidyapati, Biwabasu and Acharya performed Surya puja and barana ritual (reception with utmost respect).
Daitapatis and stotriya Brahmins are observing nirjala upabas (a fast during which even sucking in of one’s own saliva to wet one’s own throat is forbidden, leave apart consumption of food and water).
Stotriya Brahmins, led by the Rajguru, are offering oblations to the fire God at the yagna mandap to the chants of Patala Narasimha mantra (invocations) in the presence of Vidyapati, Biwabasu and Acharya of the Banjaga Yatra ,
Daitapatis, both young and old, are chanting the same mantra and other secret mantras with utmost austerity at the Sabara Palli (the camp where Daitapatis are putting up, considered a village of Sabaras – the forest dwellers said to the first worshippers of Lord Jagannath in the form of Lord Nilamadhav).
As per tradition, the Vidyapati of the Banajaga Yatra team will symbolically touch the tree with a golden axe. It will next be touched by the Biswabasu with a silver axe and before the Biswakarmas (carpenters) use actual iron axes to cut the tree.
Daitapatis, stotriya Brahmins and others will break their fast by consuming havisyanna only after the tree falls on the ground.
“The mahayagna is on. We Daitapatis and the stotriya Brahmins are all on fast. This mahayagna will continue for 48 hours. What fills my heart with joy is that young members of our community who are with us in the Banajaga team are chanting mantras with utmost austerity. This maha Nrusingha yagna is not being done only for the purpose of consecration of the daru; it’s also meant for peace and brotherhood in the world, for the good of the country, its people, the state and the world at large. In this fast, we are forbidden even from sipping our own saliva. This yagna is known as nistha yagna in other words. Let Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe, keep everyone in peace,” said Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, chief Badagrahi of Lord Jagannath speaking to reporters here shortly after the start of the mahayagna today.
“An atmosphere of spirituality prevails here. We had come with youngsters from our community this time. We are extremely satisfied that our boys are reciting the maha Narasingha mantra with the utmost devotion and austerity. They are chanting the mantra sitting in the Sabara Palli in front of the yagna mandap. This is being done for the welfare of all states, the county, the entire world,” said Premananda Das Mohapatra, secretary of the Daitapati Nijog.
After bhoomisodhan (land purification) yesterday, the tree was bathed first in ganga jal (water from the holy Ganga) and subsequently with 108 pots of water from River Kuakhai and was offered new clothing. Later the ritual of ankuraropan was done.
With the countdown for the felling of the daru having already begun, this place, located barely a kilometer away from the famed Chausathi Yogini temple at Hirapur village, has turned into a place of pilgrimage with the crowd swelling by the hour.
Security has been tightened with more barricades and deployment of additional policemen.
The administration has taken measures to facilitate easy and disciplined darshan of the daru in response to complaints made by devotees that they were unable to have a proper view of the daru.
A three-layer security arrangement has been put in place to ensure orderly darshan.
The Khurda district administration is planning to install giant LED screens for live telecast of the rituals at Gadakantunia village.
“The LED screens will help disperse the crowd from around the tree. Devotees can watch the live telecast of the rituals from a distance,” said Jayadev MLA Sasibhusan Behera.
Some senior servitors of Jagannath Temple raised the demand before DGP Sanjeev Marik and Minister Sanjay Dasburma.
“The DGP assured installation of LED screens for better crowd management. It will also help propagate Jagannath culture,” said Daitapati Nijog president Ramakrushna Das Mohapatra.
The Gadakantunia Village Committee has requested people of the locality not to eat non-vegetarian food till the tree is cut and taken to Puri. A vehicle with public address system was seen moving in different villages and spreading the message.