On Sunday, the tourists from abroad joined the spiritual euphoria on the Grand Road and the royal palace during solemnization of Banajaga Yatra (search for timber for creating the new idols) rituals. While many witnessed the grand spectacle for the first time, Roland recollected his experience during the 1996 Nabakalebara.
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is off-limits to non-Hindus like Roland Hardenberg from Germany. The restriction, however, has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Roland and a number of other foreign tourists, who are in Puri to witness Nabakalebara rituals observed outside the temple.
“I spent one-and-a-half years in Puri for my research on Jagannath and Nabakalebara. I had been camping in the Holy City since 1995. I wrote my PhD on Nabakalebara, which impressed many in Tubingen University,” said Roland, who is now a professor in social anthropology in the university. “I also wrote a book ‘The Renewal of Jagannatha’s Body: Ritual and Society in Orissa’,” he said.
Roland said he had accompanied Daitapati priests to Kakatpur during the last Banajaga Yatra. “The world has changed, but not the rituals. This time, I found a lot of promotional activities and media reports on Nabakalebara on the internet, which were missing in 1996,” he said.
Two PhD students from Tubingen University, Lisa Zuefle and Cora Gaebel, said they are eager to learn more about Nabakalebara. While Lisa is doing research on the 12th century shrine’s Mahaprasad, Cora is working on the economy of Nabakalebara.
Pierre and Francois, two brothers from Bordeaux in France, reached Puri on Saturday. “We were in Kolkata last week when we read news reports about Nabakalebara in Puri. We changed our schedule for it. We are planning to visit Kakatpur,” said Francois.
Source: Times of India