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Using no manuals or modern machines, they make identical Jagannath chariots each year

They have no manuals, architectural drawings or modern machines, but a group of craftsmen make gigantic and identical chariots for Lord Jagannath and his two siblings in Puri every year, using only traditional knowledge.

During the annual Rath Yatra festival in the pilgrim town, three chariots famed for their majestic structure and brilliant craftsmanship start from the 12th century Jagannath Temple and reach the Gundicha Temple.

"The chariots are constructed afresh every year. There is no deviation in their heights, widths and other key parameters for centuries. However, new features are added to the chariots to make them more colourful and attractive," Asit Mohanty, a researcher in the Jagannath culture, told PTI.

The carpenters engaged in chariot construction do not have any formal training. They only have knowledge and techniques that have been trickled down from their forefathers, Mohanty pointed out.

The chariots are constructed from over 4,000 pieces of wood by a few families who have the hereditary rights to make them.

"I have been engaged in chariot making for about four decades. I was trained by my father Lingaraj Mohapatra and he received training from my grandfather Ananta Mohapatra. It is a tradition and we are privileged to get the opportunity to serve the Lord," said Bijay Mohapatra, the chief 'Biswakarma' (carpenter) of Lord Jagannath's 'Nandighosh' chariot having 16 wheels.

Only traditional equipment like chisel are used in the construction of the chariots, he said.

"Our measurements are in the units of 'haat' (hand size) and 'Anguli' (finger size). There are no such units like feet or inches," Mohapatra said.

Asked how the "Haat" size remain the same over centuries as the lengths of the hands of different carpenters are not similar, Mohapatra said: "My father has given me a stick. This stick is considered as one 'Haat'. It is equivalent to 20 inches. Twenty-five 'Angulis' make a 'Haat'. We use these measures to calibrate the height and width of the chariots.

Read more at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/using-no-manuals-or-modern-machines-they-make-identical-jagannath-chariots-each-year/articleshow/92485784.cms

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