ABOUT TAHIYA LAGI BESHA:
Tahiya lagi Besha is observed during the Rath Yatra. The three deities wear crowns called Tahiya.Tahiya is the only jewellery that the sibling deities don during this ritual. These are worn during Snana Purnima, Rath Yatra, Bahuda Yatra and Niladri Bije. Devotees jostle for these magnificent swaying floral crowns and take the pieces home as memorabilia.
The crown known as Tahia is made out of cane, bamboo sticks, solapith, flowers and colors (minimal, red and zinc, are used).
Tahia is placed on the head of the murti while He is being taken from the temple to the chariot and it remains till the end of the Ratha Yatra. Only skilled artisans are entrusted to prepare the tahia.
The tahia is shaped like a betel leaf. The crown is more than six feet in height and 8.5 ft in circumference.
A lot of raw bamboo sticks (altogether 37 sticks) are held together with cotton strings to give the tahia its shape. Cane is also used at specific places. Flowers, made of solapith, are also used, apart from jasmine. But the row of kadamba flowers at the top of tahia, made of solapith, enhance the beauty of the tahia.
Lord Jagannath’s idol is huge (6’4” tall). When the murti is taken to the chariot, Jagannath wears no precious jewellery, except the tahia. This adds beauty and grace to the murti.
HISTORY BEHIND TAHIYA:
According to one, a devotee named Raghu Arikita was in meditation under the scorching sun near the Lion’s Gate of the temple. The then king used to provide the devotees shade through Tati(Covering) to prevent them from the heat and thus built the same for Raghu Arikita . However, the saint broke it down as he found no use for it. The king again built a shade for him but when this time the saint tried to pull it down, Lord Jagannath appeared before him. Raghu exclaimed, “Oh Lord, you gave me Tati but I would cover you with Tahiya.” Since then, Raghaba Das Mutt has been providing Tahiyas for the deities.
Jagannath culture expert Naresh Das has a different take on the whole story. “Impressed with the saint’s devotion, Jagannath appeared in the form of Bal Gopal and stood behind him holding an umbrella. It was then that Raghu Arikita promised Him to provide decorative headgears during Pahandi,” he said.