Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Apr 26:
The last Nabakalebara of the Lords held in 1996, when late Janaki Ballav Patnaik was the Chief Minister of Odisha, was the most successfully organised of all Nabakalebaras of the 20th century, said Ramakrushna Das Mohapatra, president of the Daitapati Nijog reminiscing on Nabakalebara and his association with Patnaik.
“The 1996 Nabakalebara was the most successful Nabakalebara of the century. Chief Minister Janaki Ballav Patnaik was involved at every stage of the Nabakalebara process and conducted regular reviews to work out the minutest detail,” said Das Mohapatra, who has been involved in three consecutive Nabakalebaras including the current one.
“The 1977 Nabakalebara was the most badly managed one. In 1996, Janaki babu rectified the anomalies. He used to personally keep every tit bit of information and held regular reviews. Being a devotee of Lord Jagannath, he never tolerated any politics or mismanagement in the service of the Lord,” said Das Mohapatra sharing his memories with OST.
Recounting his association with Patnaik, Das Mohapatra said:”I was elected as a councilor to the Puri municipality as an independent candidate in 1985. The councilors were on a visit to Janaki babu’s house to decide on who would be the chairman. That is where I became close to him. Since then till 2004, I got elected as a councilor on Congress ticket four times consecutively. It was possible due to Janaki babu’s blessings and my close relations with him.”
“It was during this period that the 1996 Nabakalebara occurred. At that time, Suresh Mohapatra was the collector of Puri district. It was Chief Minister Janaki Patnaik, who was more worried with regard to the Nabakalebara than the administration and used to visit Puri whenever there was a little problem,” informed Das Mohapatra.
He said whatever facilities that the sevayats (servitors) are enjoying today have been made possible due to Janaki babu adding the Chief Minister used to share the joys and sorrows of Daitapatis at the personal level.
“Daitapatis are deeply shocked and hurt at having lost an ardent devotee of Lord Jagannath,” said Das Mohapatra in a voice choked with emotion.