Puri: Lord Jagannath and his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are adorned with Tahia (specially-made headgears) for the ceremonial Pahandi procession during the annual Rath Yatra festival here.
The headgears made of flowers add to the beauty of Srimandir deities. Authorities of city-based Raghab Das Mutt are traditionally entitled to supply Tahia for deities, said Naresh Chandra Dash, an eminent researcher on Jagannath culture.
According to Das, Raghab Das Mutt has been set up in the memory of Lord Jagannath’s devotee Raghu Arakhita Das. Legend has it that Lord Jagannath, in the disguise of a milkman, had raised a traditional umbrella on Raghu Arakhita Das to save him from the sun’s rays while the latter was in meditation in an open place. Das had urged the Lord to allow him to provide Tahia for the three deities during the Car Festival.
It is also believed that a raft carrying representative deities of Lord Jagannath capsized due to gusty winds and rains during the Chandan Yatra ritual during the reign of Gajapati Purusottam Dev. Servitors could not trace the deities from the Narendra pond. The Gajapati king had urged pontiffs of various mutts to provide the idols of Lord’s representative deities to Srimandir. The pontiff of Raghab Das Mutt had volunteered to provide the idols. “The Gajapati king had permitted Raghab Das Mutt authorities to supply Tahia for the presiding deities of Srimandir,” Dash claimed. Raghab Das Mutt authorities usually provide 24 Tahia for the deities. Customarily, Srimandir servitors require eight big Tahia and 16 small ones for decorating the deities during the Rath Yatra. Altogether eight headgears are required for the decoration of Srimandir Trinity and Lord Sudarshan during the Snana Purnima ritual. Besides, servitors put four Tahia on the deities during the Pahandi procession at Srimandir on the occasion of Rath Yatra. They also decorate the deities with four Tahia while carrying them from the chariots to Srigundicha temple, Dash said. “Traditionally, four headgears are required for the Pahandi procession of deities during Bahuda Yatra while there is need of another four Tahia for the Niladribije ritual at the culmination of Rath Yatra,” Dash added.
Customarily, artisans prepare Tahia by using bamboo flakes, strings made from banana tree skins, natural thermocol, colourful fabrics and fresh flowers. “Flowers like lotus, champak, white tulip, jasmine and foal foot are ideal for Tahia making,” Dash claimed.