BHOPAL: Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), Bhopal, displayed Dussehra Chariot of Bastar, Chhattisgarh on its social media platforms, as a part of the 27th series of its online exhibition which began on Thursday.
Director of the museum Praveen Kumar Mishra says Dussehra is celebrated in various parts of the country to mark the victory of god ‘Rama’ or the goddess ‘Shakti’ over the evil powers. But in Bastar, Chhattisgarh it is an occasion to propitiate the supreme goddess 'Danteshwari Mai' of the local pantheon. It is believed that ‘Bhagawan Jagannath’ had gifted a chariot having twelve wheels to ‘Mai Subhadra' to rule the Bastar which she gifted to Purushottam Dev-the King of Bastar. And then the king offers it to ‘Danteshwari Mai’ the supreme goddess of Bastar. Since then, during Dussehra, the Rath Parikrama is celebrated in Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar by placing a palanquin of Goddess Danteshwari on it.
As it was difficult to construct such a huge single chariot, the King allowed constructing two smaller chariots i.e. ‘Raini Rath’ (Vijay Rath)-the eight wheel chariot used during the Dussehra festival and the ‘Phool Rath’- the smaller four-wheel chariot used in Goncha festival.
Assistant Keeper of the museum Ashok Kumar Sharma said the construction of 'Rath' is a systematic process with the division of labour and distribution of work among the specified villages and specified communities. People of Billari village organise ‘Pata Jatra’ for collection of wood from Jungle to construct the wheels. The overall responsibility of the construction is traditionally vested in the 'Savara Naiks' of villages 'Jharumargaon' and 'Beda Umargaon'. Villagers from these villages take up the construction of the chariot.
Before starting the construction the tools and equipment are worshipped, a goat is sacrificed and liquor, bangles, camphor, incense sticks, coconut and hairs are offered to the goddess. It is called Barsi Utarani. The same offerings are again given on the occasion of Nar Fodni. The size of 'Raini Rath' is about 32 feet long, 18 feet wide and 18 feet high. The size of 'Phool Rath' is about 32 feet long, 17 feet wide and 17 feet high. After completing the construction the palanquin is kept on the chariot and taken for the Parikrama during Dussehra festival.