Sevayatas of Jagannath temple
People entrusted in the Seva-Puja (ritual services) of the deities in the Jagannath Temple are known as Sevayats or Sevakas (servitors). These servitors enjoy hereditary rights to perform the ritual services. They are not entitled to any fixed salary or remuneration for these services. However rewards are given to sevayats in cash and kind from the Temple Administration for these services.
Nearly 75 such sevayats perform their functions daily and without any salary. They are only entitled to get a portion of the total bhoga or offerings. This portion is known as ‘Khei’. A few sevayats also get cash rewards from the management. In addition to "Khei" , most of the sevaks are paid daily remuneration i.e. cash reward, according to the scales prescribed by the managing committee of the Temple. Some sevaks get reward in both cash and kind. On special occasions like Rath Yatra, all the sevayats are given cash rewards.A "Hundi" is placed in the Jagamohan of the temple since 23.8.83 for donation. 90% of the Hundi fund is deposited in the Bank as foundation fund out of the interest money accruing from the foundation fund 50% goes to the Temple fund, 45% to the Sanskrit University and 5% to the Sevayats Welfare Fund.
Though there are near about 120 categories of Sevaka or Servitors in the temple of Jagannath Puri, on an average 75 Sevitors perform ritual services everyday. Mentioned here is a list of few servitors alongwith the duties discharged by them.
- The Gajapati (The King of Puri) is treated as the first and foremost Servitor of the Temple. During Car Festival he sweeps the three Cars with a golden broomstick. In addition to this, he has to perform a number of rituals/duties in different occasion.
- The Raj Gurus were entrusted with managing the functions of the Parichha. At present the Temple is being managed by a Managing Committee and the King of Puri (Gajapati Maharaj) as it's ex-officio chairman. An Administrator appointed by the State Government of Orissa is looking to the day-to-day affairs of the Temple. Still then the Parichhas have a few duties of their own to perform.
- The Daitas perform all duties during Snana Purnima and Ratha Yatra (Car Festival) and plays an important role during Nabakalebar, the ritual in connection with changing of wooden bodies of the deities. It is said that they are the decedents of the sabara chieftain Biswabasu, who was worshiping Jagannath before the Lord came to this temple and hence the Daitas are considered as close relatives of Jagannath.
- Patjoshi Mohapatra is the head of all Servitors. He ensures that the Servitors perform their duties properly and rites of temple are observed regularly.
- Bhitara-Chhu Mohapatra looks after the sanctity of the Bhog being offered to the deities and also to the cleanliness of the temple premises.
- Taluchha Mohapatra likewise looks after the cleanliness of the kitchen.
- Mudirath performs all works of the King in latter's absence as his representative.
- The temple Purohit chants Vedic Mantras and performs Japas.
- Pujapandas performs the ritualistic Puja (worship).
- Puspalaks dress up the deities, smear sandal wood paste etc.
- Khuntias guard the sacred body of the deities.
- The Mekaps remain in charge of different store articles.
- Pratiharis keep guard over different strategic points.
- Suars cook the food offerings.
- Karans keep the accounts of all expenditure both cash and materials.
- Bhitara Gaini Seva (service) is performed by the Debadasis who sing songs before the deities.
The entire list of Sevayats who are engaged in th eservices of the Lord Jagannath is mentioned below: