Bringing new life to Puri’s gods

Those who have paid attention know the last Namarupa Yatra spent several days in Puri in order to witness the annual Rath Yatra there, which sees Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra travel outside their temple.

Turns out, we — Bobbie and I were there — saw the last of the trio’s current forms. They are getting a rebirth:

Nabakalebara is a 65-day-long rare and elaborate ritual of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshana relinquishing their old bodies (idols) and assuming new ones. The previous Nabakalebara was held in 1996.

Over five million devotees are expected to converge on Puri this year to witness the event, which is envisaged to be one of the largest congregations of people, in not just India but the world.

Nabakalebara is the most significant ritual in the Jagannath cult since it infuses life force. “Naba” means new and “kalebara” means body or cover in Sanskrit.

The photos you see there are from the Rath last year; in the first photo of all three chariots, we were seated off to the right of the shot — outside of it.

Hat tip to Robert Moses of Namarupa for passing this along.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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