Puri: While religious fervour gripped the holy city of Puri, the important ritual of ‘Chhera Panhara’ (sweeping of the chariots’ floors by Gajapati Maharaja of Puri with a golden broom) was conducted smoothly.
Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb swept the three chariots before they were pulled by scores of devotees of Lord Jagannath. The ritual has a clear social message that all are equal before the Lord.
Chhera Pahanra is the second phase of the festival which is as colourful and elaborate ritual of Rath Yatra. The Raja, King of Puri, Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb, who was informed about the deities having taken their places on the chariots, reached the ‘Bada Danda’ clad in spotless white attire, carried in a silver plated palanquin, and climbed up on the chariots one by one.
He first offered prayers to the deity seated on the chariot and then cleaned the platforms with a golden broom, sprinkling flowers and fragrant water on the surface of the chariot.
According to Shree Jagannath Temple Administration’s official records, the ritual goes back to several hundred years and is a symbol of the subjugation of the temporal to the spiritual.
The tradition of Chera Panhara started by King Purushottama Deb continues to this day. During the festival, the Gajapati King sweeps all around the deities and chariots. He then cleanses the road with a broom (gold-handled) and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder.
His action bridges the gap between the rich and the poor, the low caste and the high caste and sends out the very important message of dignity of labour.