Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra - When Gods Visit Devotees
India is a land of colorful festivities and joyous celebrations. One such vibrant Hindu festival is Jagannath Rath Yatra. It is held in reverence of Lord Jagannath, avatar of Lord Krishna, at Puri, Odisha. This religious procession is also known as Chariot Festival, Navadina Yatra, Gundicha Yatra or Dasavatara. Interestingly, it is one among the oldest rath yatras in the world and is also mentioned in ancient scriptures. It is a yearly festivity which falls on Dwitiya tithi in Shukla Paksha of Ashada month.
When is Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra?
Jagannath Rath Yatra observed every year on Dwitiya tithi in Ashada month Shukla Paksha.
Jagannath Rath Yatra - Importance
Indian festival of Jagannath Rath Yatra is associated with Lord Jagannath, Maa Subhadra (his sister) and Lord Balabhadra (elder brother). This festival holds immense significance in Hindu religion as it is believed that it is a wish of Lord Jagannath to visit Mathura, his place of birth, for some days. So, in order to fulfill the Lord’s wishes, the devotees conduct this procession each year which starts from Lord Jagannath Temple till Gundicha Temple in Puri. This celebration is a way to commemorate the visit of Lord Jagannath to Gundicha temple via Mausi Maa temple.
Jagannath Rath Yatra- Celebrations
The celebrations of this vibrant festival begin way before the actual day. The devotees start building the chariots. Then, these chariots are adorned with beautiful colors and designs made by the popular artists of Puri. Three chariots are made for the three respective deities.
- Lord Jagannath’s chariot is made of approximately 16 wheels and is about 45 ft. high. It is called Nandighosa
- Goddess Subhadra’s chariot is at a height of 44.6 feet and is made with 12 wheels. It is known as Devadalana
- Lord Balabhadra chariot is 45.6 feet high and comprises of 14 wheels. It is called Taladhwaja.
Jagannath Rath Yatra procession is essentially a nine day festivity marked by various rituals and traditions. During this procession, the idols of all the deities are made in wood and are taken in their respective chariots to Gundicha temple amidst chants, songs and sound of conch shell. There are several customs associated with this festival namely
As per this tradition, the idols of these three deities are bathed, before the procession begins, with approximately 109 buckets of.
After Snana Pornima, the wooden idols are kept secluded till the procession begins. This custom is known as Ansara.
In the morning of procession, the royal heir or King of Odisha performs the ritual of Chera Pahara. According to this tradition, the King cleans the chariots with a broom with a golden handle and then decorate them with flowers. He also cleans the path through which the procession will go and sprinkles sandalwood on it. This ritual signifies that each and every living being is same in front of God. The King then brings the deities from the temple and place them on their respective chariots and the procession begins
During this Chariot Festival, the temple of Lord Jagannath becomes accessible to people of each and every faith, the entry of which on the rest of the days is restricted to Hindus only.
After completion of the journey from Lord Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple, the deities stay there for 9 days. After nine days, they again begin their journey from Gundicha temple to home. And, this procession back home is known as Bahuda Yatra.
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The yatra reaches Jagannath Temple by evening. The deities, next morning, are dressed in new clothes. This custom is known as Suna Vesa. Then, they are placed back inside the temple amidst much joy and fanfare.
Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri is one of the most splendid occasions in India. It is celebrated in a grand manner owing to its religious significance in Hindu culture.
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