Related to the car-festival, an important festival known as
'Nava Kalebara' is held once in every twelve to nineteen years according
to the calculation of the year and date. On this occasion the wooden
images of the deities are replaced by new ones.
Time For The Festivity
The principle adopted to fix the year of renewal is to find a year, which has two full moons in the month of 'Asadha'. In every three years a lunar month is excluded from the calculation to keep a balance between the lunar and the solar years. This particular month, which is excluded from calculation is known as "Adhimasa" or "Mala Masa" and is considered most inauspicious for any religious ceremony.
But peculiarly enough this is considered most sacred for the renewal festival of the deities. Therefore, it is also called "Purusottama Masa", as the other name of Lord Jagannatha is 'Purusottama'. During the last hundred years such festivals have been held only seven times in 1863, 1893, 1931, 1950, 1969, 1978 and 1996.
For making the new images a number of rituals connected with it are observed. When the date is fixed for the festival the "Gajapati Maharajah" of Puri issues a proclamation to the 'Vidyapati', 'Daitas' and Brahmins well versed in the Vedas to go in search of the trees that would provide logs for making the images.
Generally, this proclamation is issued on the 10th day of the full moon of 'Chaitra'. After the mid-day rituals of the Lord Jagannatha, the 'Mahapatras' receive "Agnya Mala", the garland as a token of permission from the Lord to go in search. Then the Mahapatras carry this garland along with four 'Daitapatis' to the "Anabasara Pindi" (a platform inside the temple) where they are given new garments to wear. From there they go to the Jagannatha 'Math', the place of starting.
Accompanied by the Daitapatis, 'Deulakarana', 'Tudhan',
'Lenka' and four carpenters they go to the temple of 'Mangala' at
Kakatpur, which is about 40-km in the north. There they sleep in the
temple to obtain permission of the Goddess in dream before proceeding in
four batches to four directions in search of the trees.
There are strict injunctions for selection of the trees. The trees must be of 'Neemba'. It should have four branches and must be in near vicinity of a buried ground or river. It shouldn't have cut marks. Snakes below the tree is an auspicious sign. Taking all these specifications into account the selection is made and the Daitapatis immediately place the garland on the trees. Then the area is cleaned.
A platform is erected for "Bana-Yaga" ceremony. Four Brahmins conduct the ritual. Then the Daitapatis sit in meditation for three days. After this the Vidyapati marks the tree with a golden axe and then the carpenters begin to cut the tree into huge logs. Thereafter, the holy logs are carried in four wheeled-carts newly built for the purpose. The carts are not pulled by animals but by the 'Sevakas' and the people.
The sacred logs are taken into the temple compound through the northern gate and are placed in the "Koili Baikuntha". On the day of "Snana Purnima", the logs are bathed along with the aid of deities. Then the logs are carried to "Darughara" or the stack, and eight Brahmins perform the ritual, after which the carving of the images begins by a group of carpenters. During this period nobody is allowed to visit the place.
After completion of the carving, the images are painted bright in their respective colours by the traditional 'chitrakars'. The new idols are then circumbulated for three times and brought to the 'Anabasarapindi' for transfer of Brahma from the old deities into their new forms.
The senior most among the 'Pal Mahapatras' performs this rite at the dead hour of the night. He takes away the Brahmas from the naval zones and places them in the same position in the new forms. But, he does it blind-folded and with hands covered with clothes as he is not to see or feel the mysterious Brahmas. Then the old images are carried and buried in the wells of Koili Baikuntha by the Daitapatis. For this act they observe mourning for eleven days as is commonly done at the death of a man in a Hindu family.