Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Gadakuntunia, April 14:
The nondescript village of Gadakuntunia on the banks of River Kuakhai in the outskirts of Odisha’s capital turned into a place of pilgrimage as the Banajaga Yatra team arrived at the site of the daru identified for the making of Lord Sudarshan’s idol this evening. The place is barely a kilometer away from the famed Chausathi Yogini temple at Hirapur village.
Full-throated cries of ‘Jai Jagannath’ rent the air as the Banajaga Yatra team was given a rousing welcome on their arrival by a crowd of over one thousand devotees.
The Banajaga Yatra team, which had pitched its tents at Deuli Mutt since April 2, would now put up at the Sabarpalli specially erected for their stay. The bhumisodhan and barana rituals will take place tomorrow morning.
“Tomorrow, there will be a daru shuddhi puja after which the other rituals of the yagna would begin,” said a senior member of the Banajaga Yatra team
“There will be a maha yagna for three days after which the cutting of the daru will take place. After the daru is cut into pieces, we shall move in the sagadi (bullock cart) with them for Puri on April 20,” said Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, the chief badagrahi of Lord Jagannath.
Suresh Mohapatra, chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), said the place of the yagna had been sanctified. “The entire place has been barricaded and public would not be allowed into the yagna area,” he said.
After taking stock of the security arrangments at the place, DGP Sanjeev Marik said; “The crowd is obviously going to swell from tomorrow. Keeping this in view, adequate number of security personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order.”
The riverside village is probably having the highest ever number of footfalls in its recorded history ever since the wee hours on Sunday, soon after the dalapati (team leader) of the Banajaga Yatra team informed the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration about the location of the daru for Lord Sudarshan around midnight on Saturday.
Devotees from far-flung places from inside and outside the state – and even foreigners – are braving the scorching sun to have a darshan (glimpse) of the blessed neem tree.
Many are disappointed over the barricade, which has prevented them from having a darshan of the divine tree from a closer distance. Some people were even seen using binoculars to have a closer look of the divine symbols on the tree that would be felled in a day or two.
Sources said one of the bullocks assigned to the bullock cart attached to the dalapati, which has fallen ill, is undergoing treatment at the Athantara temple premises, which is said to have delayed the arrival of the Banajaga Yatra team.
Earlier in the day, some members of the Banajaga Yatra team including Chandrasekhar Mangaraj, Deula Karana of Shree Jagannath temple and some Daitapatis visited here to take stock of the arrangements.