Bhubaneswar: Akshaya Tritiya is considered an auspicious festival for people of Odisha, which is observed on the third tithi of shuka paksha of Vaisakha month of the traditional Hindu calendar. The festival date falls in April or May month of every year.
In Odisha, it is also the day when Hindus begin their annual construction of chariots for the Puri Rath Yatra festivities. Also known as ‘Gandhalepana Yatra’, Chandan Yatra is the longest festival observed at Jagannath Temple in Puri. It continues for 42 days and observed in two parts: ‘Bahara Chandana’ and ‘Bhitara Chandana’.
Bahara Chandana starts from Akshay Tritiya and continues for 21 days. The representative idols of the main deities of the Jagannath Temple as well as five ‘Shivalingas’ known as the ‘Pancha Pandava’ are taken in a ceremonial procession from the ‘Singhadwara’ (Lions Gate) of the Jagannath Temple in Puri to the Narendra Tirtha tank. After various rituals, the deities are taken to the Narendra pond located near the Jagannath Temple and are placed on grandly decorated boats for an evening cruise of the tank.
As per the tradition, the temple servitors will perform a special ritual at the Rath Khala (chariot making yard) and bring Angya Mala (garland signifying directive from the deity) seeking his command and place the same on three pieces of woods. The chief carpenters of the three chariots will symbolically touch the gold axe on the three wooden logs after which they would shape the logs.
Interestingly, nearly 100 carpenters would be engaged for making the three gigantic chariots, 45-feet-high Nandighosha for Lord Jagannath, 44-feet-high Taladhwaja for Balabhadra and 43-feet-high Debadalana for Subhadra.