Jagannath Puri Yatra

Puri Rath Yatra Festival

Also known as Chariot Festival or Car Festival, Rath Yatra of Puri is one of most famous celebration at Jagannath Temple. It is held on Asadha Sukla Dwitiya i.e. the second day of bright fortnight of Asadha (June-July) every year. This festival involves hauling the chariots of all three main deities of the temple on huge, richly decorated chariots. It is the oldest and most visited Rath Yatra in the world.

The festival of Rath Yatra Puri commences on the 26th June, 2017.

Return Car Festival or ‘Bahuda Jatra’ falls on 3rd July, 2017.

On the auspicious day, the deities are taken out of the temple and placed in their respective chariots, kept near the main entrance, known as Singh Dwar. Dragged by thousands of devotees, these chariots start their journey from Jagannath Temple to the Shri Gundicha Temple covering a distance of 3 kilometers. The chariot of Balabhadra is dragged first, followed by those of Subhadra and Jagannath.

The Chariot

The majestic three chariots of the deities are constructed every year following an age old tradition that has been passed down to generations. The timber is customarily brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla and set afloat in the river Mahanadi for Puri.  The chariots are then constructed as per the tradition and customs prescribed in the ancient texts. These beautifully decorated chariots are lined across the wide avenue right in front of imposing temple.

The chariot of Lord Jagannath is draped in yellow cloth accounting to the fact that Lord Krishna was also known as Pitamabara (the one who is draped in yellow). The chariot is 45 feet high with 16 wheels.
Lord Balbhadra’s chariot is draped in red and blue cloth and stands 44 feet tall with 14 giant wheels.

The chariot of Goddess Subhadra is 43 feet tall with 12 wheels covering of red and black cloth, black being traditionally associated with Shakti and the Mother goddess.

Chhera Pahara

One the most noteworthy ritual of the Chariot Festival is the custom of Chhera Pahara. In this ritual, the heir of the Gajapati dynasty wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all across the chariots and deities with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water. As per the custom, even though the Gajapati King was considered the most dignified personality in the Kalingan realm, he still renders the menial service to Jagannath. This ceremony implies that for Lord Jagannath, there is no difference between the great Gajapati king and the poorest devotee.

Festivals associated with Rath Yatra

1. Chandan Yatra

The festival of Rath Yatra marks the commencement of famous Chariot Festival of Jagannath Puri. On this auspicious day the carpenters start building the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabadra and Subhadra with the sacred neem tree. This festival is celebrated in the bright half of Baisakha month of traditional Hindu calendar.

2. Snana Yatra

This festival is observed in the month of May-June when the deities are ceremoniously bathed with 108 pitchers of water drawn from a well nearby. At the end of the ceremony deities are supposed to fall ill and are withheld from public view for 15 days. After this 15-day period known as ‘Anabasara’ concludes, the devotees get the first glimpse of the deities on the day before Rath Yatra.

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Published Date: August 6, 2016
Last Updated On: September 15, 2016
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