Puri: The chariots for the Rath Yatra of Srimandir deities are constructed with the tireless efforts of eight categories of servitors. They live the life of an ascetic while building the chariots.
The Srimandir Record of Rights (RoR) has elaborate mention of the specific services the eight categories of servitors have to perform, according to eminent researcher on Jagannath culture Naresh Chandra Dash. The servitors engaged in chariot construction get remuneration from Srimandir administration, he said. The eight categories of servitors are:
Badhei Maharana (carpenter) servitors usually construct the chariots by shaping sliced wood. The Service No 105 of the Srimandir RoR has vivid description on the role of Badhei Maharana servitors. As per the temple tradition, three senior Badhei Maharana servitors are appointed as the head carpenters for the construction of the three chariots. They are responsible for timely making of chariots. Other carpenters work as per their advice, Dash said.
The role of Bhoi servitors in chariot construction is mentioned at Service No 97 of the RoR. They usually carry wood from the storage to Rath Yard on the Grand Road. They are the primary source of manual labour at the Rath Yard. This category of servitors also helps in the pulling of Nandighosha, Taladhwaja and Darpadalan chariots during the car festival.
Service No 101 of the RoR has clearly described the assignments for Ojha Maharana (blacksmith) servitors. Members of blacksmith community primarily constitute the Ojha Maharana servitors. They shape iron pins, bolts and other hardware parts for construction of chariots at foundry on the premises of Dolabedi. The temple administration usually supplies iron rods and plates for preparation of pins and bolts. The Ojha Maharana servitors also embellish the three chariots with canopies and other decorations. They also shape iron clamps and other metal objects for the repair of chariots if required.
The role of Daraji (tailor) servitors in chariot construction has been described in the Service No 95 of the shrine RoR. Daraji servitors cut colourful fabrics to prepare canopies and other decorative pieces for the chariots. According to Dash, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration provides them fabrics for preparing the canopies.
The assignments for Damara Bisoyi servitors have been described in the Service No 90 of Srimandir RoR. They basically prepare copper plates for safety of idols during the Rath Yatra.
The Karatia (sawer) servitors of Srimandir saw the logs up into small pieces for the construction of chariot wheels and other parts. The Service No 91 of the Jagannath temple RoR has described the roles and functions of Karatia servitors.
Rupakar servitors are responsible for the construction and maintenance of wooden charioteers, subsidiary deities and figures of birds and animals for the three chariots. They usually construct the idols of subsidiary deities and other figures during the Nabakalebara ritual. They repair these idols and figures ahead of the annual Rath Yatra. Moreover, they engrave figures on the pillars and frames of the chariots. The Service No 88 of Srimandir RoR deals with the assignment for Rupakar servitors, Dash said.
Chitrakar servitors are mainly responsible for the painting of chariot wheels and other parts. They also paint the idols of subsidiary deities and figures of animals and birds before carpenters install these decorative pieces on the chariots.