Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra - When Gods Visit Devotees
Also termed as Ratha Yatra or Chariot Festival, Jagannath Rath Yatra is a popular spiritual event held at Puri in the state of Odisha, India. This yearly event is celebrated with much fanfare and gusto. It is due to this Rath Yatra that Puri is also known as Jagannath Puri.
When in Jagannath Puri Rath Yarta in 2017?
Monday 25th June 2017
This is more of a social event where devotees in large numbers emerging from all sections of the society volunteer to pull the chariot to its annual visit to Gundicha Temple through Mausi Maa temple in Balagundi. The wooden huge-wheeled chariot structure is 45 feet in length and is 35 feet broad. It takes about two months every year to make it and the wheels of the cars are decorated with flower petals etc. The front of chariot is decorated with wood-carved charioteer and horses while the rear is embroidered with inverted Lotuses. These centuries old, rath yatra that is celebrated yearly on Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya i.e. the second day of bright fortnight of Ashadha month finds mention in ancient scriptures of Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.
The center of attraction of this rath yatra is the deities of Lord Jagannatha or Sri Krishna, elder brother Balabhadra or Balram and younger sister Subhadra are taken on a nine-day annual outing to Gundicha Temple. The legendary weapon of Sri Krishna, Sudarshan Chakra also accompanies them. The three immensely decorated chariots carrying the deities that wind through the streets of Puri is called Badadanda. The return journey of the deities is known as Bahuda Jatra.
The deities are bathed with 109 buckets on the auspicious occasion of Snana Poornima. They are kept in isolation till the day of Rath Yatra to do away with any illness that may have occurred due to this bathing. This period is known as Ansara. The auspicious rituals of Chhera Pahara is performed by the Royal successor. There is no caste or faith discrimination during Chhera Pahara as Jagannath temple which is generally open to Hindus only is open for all religions.
Mahesh in Serampore of West Bengal organizes second oldest Rath Yatra where it is a month long affair. The excitement and fervor of this Rath Yatra has infected people around the world where it is an annual affair since 1968 courtesy ISKCON.
A social event it is now celebrated throughout the country and the world now but the significance of rath yatra of Jagannath Puri has its own relevance and the world throng to see the gaiety and indulge in the chants and conks that accompany it.