The construction of three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra has began in Puri. The chariots are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees like phassi, dhausa, etc. This construction takes place as part of the Chandan Yatra which started on Saturday in Puri.
They are customarily brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla, now in Odisa, by a specialist team of carpenters who have hereditary rights and privileges for the same. The logs are traditionally set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi. These are collected near Puri and then transported by road.
The three chariots are decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue. The chariots are lined across the wide avenue in front of the temple close to its eastern entrance, which is also known as the Sinhadwara or the Lion's Gate.
Around each of the chariots are nine Parsva devatas, painted wooden images representing different deities on the chariots' sides. Each chariot has a charioteer (Sarathi) and four horses.
At the end of Rath Yatra celebrations, the three chariots are dismantled and the wood, considered sacred, is auctioned. The temple authorities distribute the earnings among the carpenters, whose families have been building these chariots for generations.
This year, the Rath Yatra will commence from July 12. Ahead of this, the Chandan Yatra of Lord Jagannath began on Saturday, marking thebeginning of the construction of Raths for the annual Rath Yatra scheduled to take place on July 12. However, in view of the second wave of coronavirus, only a limited number of people were allowed to attend Chandan Yatra.
Presently, the premises of Jagannath Puri temple are closed due to skyrocketing Covid-19 cases in the state. The famous temple is closed for the devotees since May 5 as the government has imposed a complete lockdown to tide over the crisis. The temple will remain closed till June 15.