When the murti (idol) of Hindu God Jagannath is taken from the temple to the Ratha for the Puri Rath Yatra ritual, he wears an ornamental crown on his head. This decorative piece which Jagannath wears is known as Tahia and is an important part of the Ratha Jatra ritual.
The crown known as Tahia is made out of cane, bamboo sticks, solapith, flowers and colors (minimal, red and zinc, are used).
Tahia is placed on the head of the murti while He is being taken from the temple to the chariot and it remains till the end of the Ratha Yatra. Only skilled artisans are entrusted to prepare the tahia.
The tahia is shaped like a betel leaf. The crown is more than six feet in height and 8.5 ft in circumference.
A lot of raw bamboo sticks (altogether 37 sticks) are held together with cotton strings to give the tahia its shape. Cane is also used at specific places. Flowers, made of solapith, are also used, apart from jasmine. But the row of kadamba flowers at the top of tahia, made of solapith, enhance the beauty of the tahia.
Lord Jagannath’s idol is huge (6’4” tall). When the murti is taken to the chariot, Jagannath wears no precious jewellery, except the tahia. This adds beauty and grace to the murti.
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