DAILY RITUALS OF JAGANNATH TEMPLE

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The word niti in Odia and Sanskrit refers to a principle, a rule or a policy. But in the Temple, this word is used in a more general sense, which signifies a particular religious rite. The nitis in the Temple are elaborate and complex in nature. It involves a multitude of sevas and sevakas. These sevakas do not receive any salary from the Temple Administration. On an average, 70 to 80 sevakas perform seva-puja (ritual services) every day. Each of them is entitled to get a portion of the Raja bhoga or Kotha bhoga. This is called Khei of the day. Sevakas in general are paid daily remuneration, which is known as Purashkar (cash reward) according to the scales prescribed by the Managing Committee of the Temple. Some sevakas get rewards both in cash and kinds. There is also provision for special cash reward over and above the Purashkar. For example, each year after the Ratha Yatra is over most of the nijogas and also some individual sevakas use to get special cash rewards from the Temple Administration for their satisfactory seva during the festival.

Nitis of the Temple can be broadly divided into the following three parts: (1) Daily niti, (2) Occasional niti and (3) festival niti. The fixed nitis are observed daily. Secondly, the periodic or according to the specialty of certain days, months etc. or occasional nitis are observed. In this context, mention may be made of some specific occasions like Ekadasi (eleventh day of fortnight), Sankranti, Amavasya, Grahana (eclipse), Nakshatra or any mishaps in the Temple. Thirdly, there are various festivals observed through out the year, some outside the Temple like Snana yatra, Ratha yatra, Chandana yatra etc. and some inside the Temple like Jhulana yatra. Each sevaka has his specified duty to perform in these nitis having terms and times specified. Various nitis that are observed in the Temple commence at about 5.00 A.M. early in the morning every day and continues till midnight. The daily nitis in short are described below.

 Dwaraphita and Mangala Alati

Dwara means door or entrance and Dwaraphita means opening of doors and Mangala alati refers to auspicious lamp offerings to the deities early in the morning. As per the ROR, the doors of the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) are to be opened by 5.00 A.M. in the morning. In the months of Kartika (October-November), Dhanu (December-January) and also on certain specific days, the doors are to be opened much before 5.00 A.M. i.e. between 2.00 A.M. to 3.00 A.M. Five categories of sevakas namely (1) Bhitarachha Mahapatra, (2) Pratihari, (3) Muduli, (4) Akhanda Mekapa and (5) Palia Mekapa are required to remain present to perform this niti. As per the tradition, the doors are opened after Bhitarachha Mahapatra examines the seals, placed on the padlocks on the previous night by another sevaka known as Taluchha Mahapatra. On some days, it becomes difficult to do Pahuda (niti related to closing of Temple doors after the final niti is over at night) on account of extra nitis or delay in completion of nitis. On such occasions, the question of dwaraphita in the following morning does not arise and the nitis commence as usual only from Mangala alati onwards.

The subsequent niti after Dwaraphita is Mangala alati. Bhitarachha Mahapatra and two other Pushpalaka sevakas perform this niti standing below the ratnavedi / ratnasinghasana. Talichha Mahapatra is entitled to perform this niti in the absence of Bhitarachha Mahapatra. As per the tradition, Bhitarachha Mahapatra or Talichha Mahapatra performs Mangala alati to Jagannath, Sudarsana, Madhava, Sridevi and Bhudevi. It is worth mentioning that the Badachhata Matha performs kirtan every day at the time of Mangala alati. Every day, in fact, alati is performed seven times. These are (1) Mangala alati when camphor, pithau and 21 bati are required for the purpose. This is performed by the sevakas as mentioned earlier, (2) Sakala Dhupa Alati when camphor and 21 bati are required and this alati is performed by the Pujapanda sevakas, (3) Madhyahna Dhupa Alati when camphor and 21 bati are required and this alati is performed by the Pujapanda sevakas, (4) Sandhya alati when camphor, 21 bati and pithau are required and this alati is performed by the Talichha Mahapatra and Palia Pushpalaka sevakas, (5) Sandhya Dhupa Alati when camphor and 21 bati are needed and this alati is performed by the Pjapanda sevakas (6) Badasinghara Dhupa alati when camphor and 21 bati/salita are needed and this alati is performed by the Pujapanda sevakas and lastly (7) Pahuda alati when camphor and pithau are required and this alati is performed by the Pushpalaka sevakas.

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