Jarada Gada: A Car Festival with a Difference

By Dr. Prafulla Chandra Mohanty for Orissa Review - 26.10 2018

Jarada, situated at the foot of Jarasandha Mountain, is home to many famous temples, is home to the unique car festival of Parthasarathi Temple, from which Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna Parthasarathi are taken out together to Gundicha Temple.

"Jarada, a tiny spiritual city of ancient Kalinga, earlier a Kingdom in Ganjam District under the control of Hyderabad Nizam of the then Madras Presidency. Ganjam, an undivided district which had the border line from Chilka in North to Chikacole (Srikakulam) in South contained not less than 20 feudatory States (Kingdom) of which Jarada was one among these states. Later in the period under British Rule, the then government had abolished the power of these Kings as they campaigned against British Rule and took part in the Indian war of Independence and so they were treated as only Zamidars.

It is seen from an ancient book named "Baisnab Smrutisara" written by poet Late Neelakantha Das that the so called Jarada was situated near the Northern end of Mahendra Giri – one of the world famous important mountains, "Mahendra Girira Nikate, Jarada Nagara Prakate".

Jarada is situated at 190 latitude and 840 longitude. The estate was of 48 square miles. Now it is under 'Chikiti' legislative cconstituency under Patrapur Block. Berhampur, Ichhapur, Patrapur and Chikiti are the towns situated nearby. The tiny town Jarada was well communicated by Berhampur (Odisha), Ichhapur (Andhra) Railway stations, roads and if required one may go to Bhubaneswar International Air Port and Rangeilunda (Berhampur) helipad station. Jarada 50 Kms only distance from Berhampur City, one of the biggest business capital of Odisha.

The journey to Jarada from Bhubaneswar, the state capital will witness the legendary and memorable Asia's biggest Chilka Lake, Pothagada, the pious Vedic River named Rushikulya, Bahuda and many more places of natural beauty of tourist importance and of spiritual attraction.

The place is felt more and more attractive for other temples of Madan Mohan, Gundicha Temple, Kunjabihari Temple, Govinda Swamy, Chandrasekhar, Pulakeswari, Thakurani, Ved Mandir, Mangala, Vinayak and Kali Temples. The estate is just at the footstep of Jarasandha Mountain, which is still a part of Mahendra Giri and the inhabitants of the area were mostly the tribals. The great scholarly researcher late Satya Narayan Rajguru had stated that the Valley of Mahendra Giri was inhabited by Jara Sabar and Sudha Sabaras, locally called as Souras. It is also mentioned in the Ganjam manual – written by T.J. Malt, a Britisher; that the son of Biswambar Singh Veer Bhadra Singh conquered the estate valley after defeating these Sabaras and established the kingdom named "Jarada' in 1440 AC.

As per the local sayings, it is mentioned that Beer Bahadur Singh Samantaray Mohapatro had defeated and killed the Sabar Chief "Jara" in the war. Before the death of Jara- the last will of the Jara Sabar was proclaimed that the name of the kingdom will be after his name Jara and in the future the Veerbhadra to perform Sradh and rituals for Jara in time to come. Accordingly, the Valley estate was named as Jara Gada – now pronounced as Jarada. The kingly family of Jarada estate is still offering "Sancha" (Rice, Vegetable, Ghee etc) to a Brahmin priest in the name of Jara Sabara while performing the Sradha (Death anniversary) on the new moon day of Kartika i.e. Mahalaya Amabasya.

The royal palace was now in a ruined condition situated towards the western part of the estate bounded by a thick brick boundary. Inside the palace the artistic 'Parthasarathi' Temple of Jagannath was remained towards north, peasant centres towards east, Sulighara in south, the Parisada hall at the front-back entrance of the Rajabati. The palace is two-storied used for dwelling purposes of the king. The palace has the courtyard "Katcheri' (Darbar hall) at the centre now in a ruined condition. The pillars of the court hall were very artistically painted. It was meant for the employees, servants (Dashis, Paricharies) of the estate. Inside the palace the temple of Radha Krishna, and istadevi "Pulukasuni" are there.

The Shakti Devi Pulukasuni is worshipped with her great weapon "Sword" (Khanda) which is named as 'Pata Khanda'. The Sword is the courage of every kingly estates and Maa 'Pulukasuni' remains as the protector (Shakti Mata) of the estate. Accordingly the Devi is worshipped with every care and devotion. The palace is unique because of it's Sudanga way (A confidential way under the ground) now in ruined condition (Rani Mahal). A covered way also linked to Antapur, (queen's palace). Outsiders could not see the goers inside. At the time of emergency the Sudanga (Gupta Dwara) way is used for exit of Royal family.

Jarada, the place is famous for the temple of Sri Partha Sarathi and of the historical Jarada Kingdom. The temple was established by Gajapati king Purushottam Dev of Puri in the 15th century, on his way to conquest Kanchi. In the temple Lord Partha Sarathi and the only Jagannath are worshipped. Locally the diety Parthasarathi is known as Sarathi Gosain. Here Sarathigosain is placed towards south of Dadhibaman Jagannath. The image of Sarathi Gosain has two hands, bearing a conch in his left hand and a rope caught to the head of the horse (Lagam) to control chariot along with the Sudarsan Chakra at the top in his right hand. The height of the image is 3 feet 6 inches.

Here Lord Sarathi Gosain is the main deity, where as Dadhibaman is secondary. There is a strong belief in the minds of local people is that if you have money, visit Puri to see Lords and if you have no money see Sarathigosain of Jarada, both darshan have equal virtue.

Worshipping Sarathigosain is the unique tradition n Ganjam. During car festival a large gathering of devotees takes place from different corners of the country, especially from the states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal etc. The people of the area have a strong belief that the babies who are not able to talk, dumb and deaf can talk very fluently like the sound comes from churning of fried peanuts by the grace of Lord Parthasarathi. Traditionally it is seen that to get the grace of Lord Parthasarathi, the parents are offering fried peanuts to the deity and distributing the same to the assembled devotees at the time of car festival.

The car festival of Jarada is a unique one where two deities like Dadhibaman and Parthasarathi are taken together in the chariot for Jatra, which is also specific in the history of Jagannath culture throughout India and abroad.

At the time of the Mahabharat war which was fought in between Kauravas and Pandavas, both parties wanted to get the support of Lord Srikrishna to win over the other and so Arjuna, (Partha) went to invite Srikrishna. After a while Duryodhana went to Srikrishna to beg his support in the war, while Krishna was in sleep. So Arjun and Duryodhan were waiting, sitting, Arjuna at the feet and Duryodhan at the head side. After getting up from sleep Lord Srikrishna first saw Arujna who was in his direct vision and wished to support and later saw Duryodhan who was given his full military support, Krishna himself stay with Parth (Arjun) in the role of charioteer and with the condition of not handling a single weapon against Kauravas during the war. From that day Lord Srikrishna was known as Parthasarathi (The charioteer of Partha). Beside Jarada Parthasarathi temple there is also a temple in the name of Parthasarathi at Chennai in the whole of India.

Mostly the car festival of Lord Jagannath is carried on with Chaturddhamurty i.e. Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarsan. But in some places where a single murti of Jagannath (Dadhibaman) is the deity of the temple, the car festival is carried only with the single Dadhibaman. But Jarada is the only place where the car festival is carried with two deities like Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna (Parthasarathi). This is really unique in the Jagannath culture prevailing in the universe. The Lord Parthasarathi reminds the day of Mahabharat where Lord Srikrishna took the role of Sarathi, the charioteer/pilot in the chariot of Parth.

Similar, to other places the car festival is carried on for nine days, the deities are costumed in different varied Ten Abataras (Incarnations) like Maschya, Kachhap, Baraha, Nrusingha, Bamana, Parsuram, Ram, Balaram, Buddha and Kalki.


Daily Puja: Rituals

Parthasarathi temple generally opens early in the morning before five. A seavayat (conch blower) blows the coanch to awake the inhabitants of Jarada along with all deities of the temple. Sound of conch is pious and spells all good. First Mangala Alati was given, after that the deities were newly dressed up with silk (Pattaluga) and there is a discipline in the colour of the dresses of the deities to bear. Like white on Monday, red on Tuesday, Green on Wednesday, yellow on Thursday, and again white on Friday, on Saturday the colour of the costume is dark black. Whereas on Sunday the Lords are dressed up with orange red colour. Costumes after dressing and flowering the deites are offered balbhogo (breakfast) Khai (fried paddy with Guda). Then the temple is opened for public for darshan. At 9A.M Khechidi (fried rice) and at 12 noon Lunch (Arnna Bhoga) is offered.

Like Puri the Arnna Prasad is first offered to Bimala, but here the Bhoga Prasad is offered to Patakhanda the goddess and then given to devotees as Mahaprasad.

After lunch, the deities are to take rest (Pahuda) till 3P.M. Again the images are offered with Pana (Sweet drink) Kanti (triangular cake) and Purabadha (a round shape cake). After Bhoga the doors are closed for sometime till evening.

There is again Alati, at about 6.30 evening. The Alati was performed with Sapta Salita Deepa around the deities one after another, each for seven times. Total 21 times with rounding up in the circle of AUM-Pranaba. After Alati, the deities were offered with 'Puli' (sweet round cake made up of moong) at evening 8 P.M. The Badasinghara Bhoga (rice with varied curries) are offered just at the Puri Srimandir, the deities before going to sleep.

Car and other Festivals:

Like Puri, here also numerous festivals are observed from time to time during the year. It starts from Dolapurnima, Phagukhela (colour festival) of Radha Govinda with Doli Khela, the new calendar (Panjika) Puja for the coming year. Rathayatra the important festival of the Sarathigosain which starts from the day of Akshaya Trutiya. Then during Devasnan Purnima, the deities bathed with pious sea water collected from the nearest sea of Baruva an ancient port. After bathing the deity is in Fever during that period. Parthasarathi is shifted to his uncle's temple called Govinda Nath. The temple is total empty without Dadhibaman and Sarathigosain.

The deities are again ready for Nabajoubana Darshan and which is known as Netrautsava, two days before the day of Rathayatra, Asadha Sukla Dwitiya. A wooden car of 27 feet height and with 8 wheels is ready for Rathayatra. On the day of Rathayatra, all the regular Pujas are performed. At about 2P.M, the Sarathigosain is first carried on Pahandi (step by step) to the car and then the Dadhi Baman (only Jagannath) for observing the car festival. The Sevayats, who are carrying the deities to the car they are locally known as Panda. After completion of shifting (Pahandi) the deities Parthasarathi and Jagannath are given alati and then Rajbhgo is offered by the King. After Bhogo, the Chherapanhara (cleaning and sweeping the surrounding) is performed by the king himself.

The car/chariot is dragged by thousands of devotees to the Gundicha temple. The deities again are offered Raj Bhoga. Towards the late night on the same day, the deities are taken to Gundicha Ghara and kept there for full nine days. On these days the Dadhibaman has different Beshas of Maschya, Kaschhap, Baraha, Nrusingha, Bamana, Parsuram, Ram, Balaram, Buddha and Kalki.

On the days of Hera Panchami, the Dadhibaman is dressed up as Nrusingha and the Sarathigosain as Kalki Abatar. The chariot is turned towards south on this day. On the day of Bahuda Yatra (Return Journey), the Dadhibaman is dressed up like Ram and Sarathigosain as Laxman his brother. The deities are taken to the south faced chariot for Bahuda Yatra. It is a belief that Bibhisan, the brother of Ravana is coming for Darshan to Sri Ram, his Lord on the chariot. Bahuda Yatra begins after Pahandi and on the same day, both the deities are taken to the Ratna Singhasan of the temple after the Bachanika (quarrelling of Laxmi with Jagannath).

Anyway after Bachanika, Lord Jagannath surrendered to Mahalaxmi, offered sweets Rasagola and at the end the angry mood of Laxmi is being subdued. There is no Sunabesh (decorating with gold ornaments) on the chariot on Bada Ekadasi day; even though there is rush of devotees for darsan of Jagannath and Sarathigosain. The rituals of the deities are performed by around 30 Sevayats like priests, cooks, managers, Kahaliya, Talua, Mrudanga Badak and one Dihudia (lamp bearer). Sevayats were working here on a very meager payment earlier by the King but now the management is in the hands of Endowments Board. Other festivals like Janmastami, Rasapurnima, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Puspa-viseka and Kumarutsav are also performed with pomp and gaiety.



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Dr. Prafulla Chandra Mohanty, Sanskruti Sadan, Bayali, Mantridi, Via- Golanthara, Ganjam- 761008.