Puri: The Rath Yard on the Grand Road here has become an institution for grooming the children of Rupakar servitors—sculptors who carve out figures of the deities and decorate the chariots.
Many boys belonging to Rupakar servitors’ families are using the summer vacation as an opportunity to learn the nitty-gritty of wood carving under the direct supervision of their elders and grandparents.
Seventeen-year-old Jagannath Mahapatra, son of Rupakar servitor Rajendra Mahapatra, has acquired expertise in carving the figures of several subsidiary deities in wood apart from engraving figures of animals and birds. Jagannath, a Class IX student of Biswambar Vidyapeeth, started learning the basics of the trade at Rath Yard when he was only five. Jagannath dreams of becoming an eminent Rupakar servitor like his father.
Subham, son of late Debaraj Mahapatra, and Prakash, son of Lingaraj Mahapatra, have begun exploring the dynamics of the trade together. The 15-year-olds, too, study at Biswambar Vidyapeeth and are learning the basics of ‘Singhabarala’ carving.
Similarly, Omm Prakash, another kid at the Rath Yard, was learning to chisel the figures on wood besides acquiring the knowhow of their trade under the insightful guidance of his father. Omm’s father Panchanan Mahapatra says he brought his son to Rath Yard when Omm was only three. And since then he has developed keen interest in chariot making.
For seven-year-old Suryaprakash, son of Kanhu Mahapatra, it is his second year at Rath Yard. A student of Tapoban Adarsha Vidyalaya, Suryaprakash was trying his hands on carving the ‘Singhabarala’. “We feel blessed working at Rath Yard. Numerous devotees and tourists see us making chariots and take selfie with us too. Nothing could substitute the feeling of making chariots,” say Suryaprakash’s brothers—Subham and Prakash—who also work at Rath Yard.
According to senior Rupakar servitor Ganesh Mahapatra, it is their traditional service to the Lord. “I’ve also started learning the basis of chariot making at an early age. And now it’s their (young Rupakars) turn. We’ll help them excel in the trade,” Ganesh says.
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