Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kakatapur, Feb 6:
With only a few days left for Banajaga yatra –the search for daru (neem tree) for making of idols – considered the opening chapter of the Nabakalebara process of Lord Jagannath,the progress of renovation and restoration work of the Deuli mutt and Mangala temple at Kakatpur, two important destinations, is tardy.
The ceremony of Nabakalebara will start on the tenth day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra, which falls on March 29 this year.
A posse of priests consisting of some Daitapatis, Pati Mahapatra Sevak, brahmin priests, Viswakarmas (carpenters), Lenka, Kahalia, Deula Karana, Tadhau Karana and temple police will venture out in search of the daru. After spending the first night at Jagannath Ballav Math, Puri, they will go to Kakatpur and stay at Deuli mutt. After being blessed by Mangala, the presiding goddess of Kakatpur, they will divide themselves into separate parties and move out in different directions looking for the darus.
With very little time left for the Banajaga yatra, which is expected to witness huge flow of tourists and devotees, locals have complained of tardy progress in the building of infrastructure by the Tourism department both at the Deuli mutt as well as at the Mangala temple.
Similarly, no steps have been taken for dredging of Prachi river as well as eviction of encroachers from the Mangala temple where the banajaga yatra team will wait for orders from goddess Mangala nor has infrastructure been augmented by the administration, alleged locals.
“Hardly a month is left for the yatra now. Though the minister has paid several visits, nothing visible has been done so far. The progress of work at Deuli mutt makes me feel that it won’t be completed before Nabakalebara. Apart from the Deuli mutt renovation, there is a need for cleaning of the Prachi waters,” said a research scholar on Prachi river.
“During the stay of the Banajaga yatra team here, thousands of devotees and tourists will visit this place. There is thus need for proper infrastructure to handle the crowd here. Moreover, no attention has been paid to Prachi river wherein the banajaga yatra team will take bath and perform ablutions before they pray to goddess Mangala, asking her to help them find the sacred wood. The priests then sleep in front of the Goddess with their face down (locally known as adhia posture) and the Goddess Mangala comes in their dreams to tell them of the exact locations of the sacred neem trees for all the deities,” said a servitor of the Mangala temple.
Meanwhile, special secretary Nabakalebara infrastructure development committee Suresh Mohapatra, Puri collector Arvind Agarwal and district administration officials inspected the development work by the Tourism department and have affirmed that all infrastructure development work will be completed by March 15.
“We have reviewed the progress of all developmental works. We are trying for its completion by March 15. Several new works will be undertaken at the Mangala temple complex, which includes construction of toilets and dharmashalas for the tourists. Mud pedestals (pindis) where Banajaga yatra team members will stay will be done soon. I think there is no problem and everything will be completed in time,” said Mohapatra.