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The Carpenters and Artisan Who Make the Chariots Used in Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra

The making of the chariots used in Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra is the responsibility of a separate group of carpenters granted privileges for the purpose. The main carpenters and artisan group responsible for making the chariots are known as Viswakarma Sevakas. The carpenters and artisans belong to the family of hereditary carpenters and they have been doing the job for centuries.

The making of the chariot involves a large number of artisans and workers with a variety of special skills. Each group makes specific parts of the chariots. Each group of workers is known as nijoga.

The main groups of carpenters and artisans:

Badhei Maharanas – The main construction of the chariot is done by this group of carpenters. This main group includes certain subcategories based on their specialized skills and roles.

Gunakara – This group provides various measurements and standards.

Pahi Maharanas – This group fixes the wheels of the chariots.

Kamara Kanta Nayakas (Ojha Maharanas) – This group is the ironsmiths and they prepare nails, pins, clamps, iron rings fixed inside axles used as the outer covering of the wooden wheels.

Chandakaras – This group carry components of major parts and help in assembling and fixing them.

Rupakaras – This group carves images and shapes in wood for decorating the chariots.

Murtikaras – These are sculptors and they create various sculptures in the wood on the chariot. Ashta Manjari or eight female companions fitted on the parapet of each chariot is prepared by them.

Chitrakaras – Painters and artists – This group makes lines, drawings, and paints them. They also paint the body parts of the sculptors and images.

Suchikaras (Daraji Sevakas) РThis group is the tailors and they prepare covers, cloth mantles, small canopies, flags, and pennants. This group also beautifies the clothes with appliqu̩ work and other designs.

Ratha Bhois – This group is led by the Bhoi Sardar and they consist of the hardworking laborers who help the skilled artisans in their work.

Apart from this, numerous other artisans are engaged in making the chariots.

Traditional Tools Used by Carpenters

All carpenters and artisans use traditional tools like the Mudgara – a type of wooden mallet. Mudgara is one of the most common tools used by the carpenters. It is like a wooden hammer with a single base. Koramunda is another type of small hammer used.

Indigenous drills are used for making holes.

The other tools used are Puanra (rounder), Barishi (special axe) and hata kathi (a flat piece of wood)

Scales or Measuring Tapes Used in Constructing the Chariots of Puri Rath Yatra