Role of Gajapati

The Gajapati (The King of Puri) is treated as the first and foremost Servitor of the Temple. During Car Festival (Ratha Yatra) he sweeps the three Cars with a golden broomstick. In addition to this, he has to perform a number of rituals/duties in different occasion including ‘Nabakalebara’.  

The sacred journey or ‘Banajaga Jatra’ (searching of the sacred Daru Brahma’s or woods) of Nabakalebara begins with several rituals inside the Srimandir then after, procession of the Banjaga Jatri’s moves to the Sri Nahar (Kings Palace) of Gajapati Maharaja. Puri Gajapati Maharaj, the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, hands over a betel nut (gua teka ritual) to the Rajguru (royal counselor) for the Banajaga Yatra after the completion of the customary puja’s at his palace. The gua teka ritual symbolizes the green signal or authorization by the King for the Banajaga expedition to go ahead. Rajguru of the Gajapati King who is the foremost Sevayat of the Deities hands over Sankalp Gua to the Daiatapati’s as a symbol of entrustment of responsibility to go in search of Daru Bharhma and return to the temple in time to construct the new idols. 

After identification, selection and cutting of Daru’s . As a matter of procedure chronologically the ‘shagadis’ or carts of Sri Sudarshan, Sri Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sri Jagannath arrive at the entrance point of Shree khetra. From such entrance point the fact of arrival of the specific Daru Brahma into the Srimandir is intimated to the Gajapati Maharaja and to the Temple administration. The King or the Gajapati also plays a role during the consecration ceremony of the Nyasa Daru (The ‘Nyasa Daru’ may be considered a symbolic representation of the new statues in the making).One of the Rajagurus is nominated by the king to function as the chief priest of this sacred occasion. The king offers the final oblation in the aforementioned ritual.