Jagannath Rath Yatra of Puri: Everything You Need to Know
Rath Yatra date – July 1, 2022
Location – Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha
Where do the chariots go – The devotees pull the chariots from the Jagannath Temples through the streets of Puri to Gundicha temple, which is located a few kilometres away.
How many chariots are there – Three. One for Lord Jagannath, the other for Lord Balabhadra (his brother), and Goddess Subhadra (his sister).
Puri, an otherwise quaint town in Odisha, comes alive every year during the Rath Yatra festival. Also known as the chariot festival of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra, it is the largest, most popular, and important Hindu festival of Odisha. The festival is held annually on the second day of Shukla Paksha in June or July. Hindu devotees from all over India and abroad consider visiting the Jagannath Temple auspicious during this time.
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is one of the holiest sites for the Hindu community in India. The temple has a rich history and cultural significance during the Chodaganga Dynasty in the 12th century. The main deities at the temple are Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra, who is associated with King Indrayumma, the nephew of Lord Ram.
Every year, the temple celebrates 148 festivals, and among these, the Jagannath Rath Yatra, celebrated during the Asadha month, is the most popular one. It attracts millions of devotees. This annual mega event is a special occasion for all Hindu devotees as the Gods come out of their sanctum to give darshan to their devotees.
The old and the sick who cannot visit the shrine get an opportunity to see and seek the deity's blessings during the festival. As per the local beliefs, such an open religious celebration puts the fear of death and natural calamities to rest.
Three new Raths are built every year before the festival begins and are designed in a specific way. You can easily distinguish the difference by size, the number of wheels, and the colour. The main deity, Lord Jagannath’s rath or the chariot is known as Nandighosa. It has 16 wheels and is covered in red and yellow clothing. The charioteer of this Rath is Daruka, and the rope that pulls the rath is called Sankhachuda.
Lord Balabhadra’s rath is known as Taladhvaja. It has 14 wheels, and it is clothed in red and green. The charioteer’s name is Matali, and the rope pulling the rath is Vasuli.
Goddess Subhadra’s rath is named Deviratha or Darpadalana. It has 12 wheels and features red and black clothes. The charioteer is Arjun, and the rope is called Swarnachuda.
The festival holds great significance for Hindus, especially those seeking moral merit and penance. It is believed that anyone who draws the rope connected to the Gods’ chariots or even gets to touch the rope or the chariot is said to gain several penances. Legend has it that all of the Lord’s accoutrements become one with the God himself during the festival.
Apart from seeking the blessing of God and bowing your heads in reverence to the deities, you must visit the festival to be in the divine atmosphere amidst all the other devotees and watch the festival celebrations unfold. Besides, it is a must-visit festival to learn about the rich Indian culture and the festive spirit.
During the festival, you would see a colour riot everywhere, and there is just an aura of sheer joy and spirituality. The crowded shops, enthusiastic faces of the devotees, and the vibrant colours are a sight you cannot forget soon.
Also, no Indian festival is complete with good food. During the festival, you can see various shops lining outside the temple and around the Lords’ Chariot Pathway selling Lord Jagannath’s favourite food items. Some of the most popular delicacies you must try are jaggery pancakes and Poda pitha.
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