Navakalebar is known as the periodical renewal of the wooden images of lord Jagannath, Bhalabhadara, Subhadra and Sudarshan. The joyous festival of the lords in their new avatars is said to happen once in every 12 to 19 years. The literal meaning of Navakalebar is; ‘Nava’ means ‘New’ and ‘Kalebar’ means ‘Body’ (New Body or re-embodiment).Navakalebar is a very old ritual of the Grand Temple, but it’s very difficult to guess the exact time since when it has been celebrated. In the 20th century, the Navakalebar function was celebrated in the Temple in 1912, 1931, 1950, 1969, 1977 and 1996. The idols that are currently being worshipped in the Jagannath Temple were installed in the year 1996.

BwSsPksIYAA14YcDuring the Navakalebar festival, the deities change their bodies during the leap month where one lunar month of the Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Ashadha. During this period, the temple remains closed for general public. During the first fortnight, the new deities are engraved on the Nirmana Mandap. The second and third fortnights of the double Ashadha months are known as Mala Masa. In the second fortnight (i.e. the first fortnight of Mala Masa), the Dayitapatis observe the obsequies because of the death of their family Lords as they are the descendants of the Lords. In the third fortnight (i.e. the second fortnight of Mala Masa) the wooden statues are covered with cotton and silken clothes and the Anabasara duties are performed.

The deities during Navakalebar festival are made out of Margo tress. Any ordinary tree with extraordinary features can become the body of the deity or Daru Bramha. The Daru (Wood in Sanskrit) should be different for each deity. There are lots of specifications for the holy tree for all the lords. The Darus should be different for each deity. Below are the specific Daru features for every deity:

Lord Jagannath Daru features

  • The holy tree should have 4 main branches.
  • The bark of the Margo tree must dark in color.
  • There should be the sign of Sankha and Chakra.
  • There should be a cremation ground near the tree.
  • There should be an out hill near the tree and a snake hole at the roots of the tree.
  • Any birds’ nest should not be there on trees.
  • The tree should be near the river or a pond or a crossing of the three ways or else to be surrounded by 3 mountains.
  • The tree should not stand alone but be surrounded preferably with the trees of Varuna, Sahada, and Belva.
  • There should be a temple dedicated to Shiva in the neighborhood.
  • There should be some heritage nearby.
  • The holy tree should be free from Parasite plants and Creepers

Lord Balabhadara Daru Features

  • The holy tree should have Seven Branches.
  • The skin of the tree must be light brown or white color.
  • It should have a sign of plough and pestle etc.
  • Nearby tree there should be a heritage and also a graveyard.

Goddess Subhadra Daru Features

  • Seven Branches should be present on the holy tree.
  • The skin of the tree should be light brown or white color.
  • It should have a sign of plough and pestle, etc.
  • There should be a heritage and a graveyard nearby.

Daru of Lord Sudarshan

  • The holy Margo tree should have three branches.
  • The tree should have a sign of Chakra with a small depression in the middle.

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