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Every year for the #RathaJatra, three huge rathas or chariots are made by artisans in Puri. Traditionally they are divided into seven categories, called sapta-rathakāras, 'seven makers of the ratha'. These traditional craftsmen hence preserve the ancient art of making rathas.
This thread is about the rathakāras, their functions and how these units of servitor-artisans work separately yet together to build the harmonious rathas. #RathaJatra
1. Mukhya Mahāraṇā or Guṇākāra (ମୁଖ୍ୟ ମହାରଣା ବା ଗୁଣାକାର) : Three maharanas plan, engineer and supervise the construction of the three rathas respectively. The method of building a ratha in the Kalingan idiom is a very specialised skill, carefully preserved for centuries.
2. Badhei Mahāraṇā or Rathakāra (ବଢ଼େଇ ମହାରଣା ବା ରଥକାର) : All the wooden parts of the Ratha are made by them, including the wheels, axles, pillars and everything else. They cut up logs, size them down and form all parts, creating the basic skeleton.
3. Ojha Mahāraṇā, Kamāra or Lauhakāra (ଓଝା ମହାରଣା, କମାର ବା ଲୌହକାର) : Ironsmiths. Iron implements needed, including nails, clamps and the like are all made by them. Several specific kinds of nails are still made in the old way to hold the structure together.
4. Rupakāra (ରୂପକାର) : Woodcarvers. Various parts of the ratha contain traditional motifs, with an aim to create a moving replica of the temple. The rupakaras sculpt the wood in the shape of bidala, parswadebata, sakhi, prabha, sarathi, olata sua and so on.
5. Chitrakāra (ଚିତ୍ରକାର) : Painters. All wooden statues and components are painted with traditional motifs in the ancient Pattachitra style of Odisha. The three rathas contain a storehouse of Kalingan iconography.
6. Daraji or Suchikāra (ଦରଜୀ ବା ସୂଚୀକାର) : Tailors. The colourful applique work adorning the rathas is known by the name maṇḍaṇi (ମଣ୍ଡଣି). Taladhwaja, Debadalana and Nandighosa are identified by their green, black and yellow stripes respectively. All three use the red cloth.
7. Bhoi or Chhandakāra (ଭୋଇ ବା ଛନ୍ଦକାର) : Assemblers. The group of bhoi sebayatas assemble all the structure together, connecting pieces and putting the work of each department into the final ratha.
The division of labour among the servitors of the Puri temple is very well-defined and so also is the case here. It is truly amazing to see how organised the activity is— perhaps that is why an endeavour of this scale can be successfully accomplished, year after year. #RathaJatra
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