Although far from the holy city, the servant weavers have carved out a place for themselves by making hand-woven fabrics, including Khandua Pata and Gita Govinda Pata, for every feast and ritual of Lord Jagannath and his siblings . A few days away from Rath Yatra, these weavers spend sleepless nights embellishing the Trinity.
Aseli Das, in his 90s, cannot see clearly nor can he hear well. That’s not all. She has trouble speaking. But she continues to weave different outfits for Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and his sister Subhadra.
She also prepares clothes for the side deities circled around the Sri Jagannath Temple on the eve of different rituals. Approaching Rath Yatra, Aseli, from Routpada village under Begunia block in Khordha district, stays so busy weaving clothes that she often forgets to eat.
Besides Aseli, a weaver like Gopinath Das from the locality also created his identity for the same. No less than 20 local families weave clothes for the Srimandir deities. This has been going on for centuries and they have kept the legacy alive generation after generation.
Be it Akshaya Trutiya, Nabakalebar or Rath Yatra, they are the most sought after minions throughout the year. It is learned that Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in Puri invariably gives them the complete list of required clothes for Snana Yatra, Rath Yatra and other rituals every year and they weave different outfits for Trinity accordingly.
Apart from Routpada weavers, Nuapatna weavers under Tigiria block of Cuttack district have become popular for Khanduapata and Gita Govinda Pata weaving for decades. From children to old people of weaver families are seen busy doing Khandua Pata which is unavoidable for Trinity during Rath Yatra.
“It is difficult to survive the traditional occupation of our ancestors in this world of dog-eating dogs. But we got into weaving because we believe it is our service to Lord Jagannath. Our love for Lord Jagannath and our passion for our traditional craft helps us carry on this legacy. We never neglect to weave Khandua Pata for Trinity, no matter how busy we are,” said weavers Trilochan Das and Purnima Das.