Rath Yatra
Overview
 
Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath
Jagannath
Jagannath is a transcendental non-anthropotheistic Hindu god worshiped primarily by the people of Indian state of Orissa, and, to a great extent, West Bengal...

 held at Puri in the state
States and territories of India
India is a federal union of states comprising twenty-eight states and seven union territories. The states and territories are further subdivided into districts and so on.-List of states and territories:...

 of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 during the months of June or July. Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath
Jagannath
Jagannath is a transcendental non-anthropotheistic Hindu god worshiped primarily by the people of Indian state of Orissa, and, to a great extent, West Bengal...

 with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area. The festival commemorates Lord Jagannath's annual visit to Gundicha mata's temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

 via aunt's home (Mausi Maa Temple
Mausi Maa Temple
The Mausi Maa temple is situated the mid-way of the Bada danda of Puri. It is a small temple dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.As per Jagannath mythology, once Goddess Lakshmi Devi left Shri Mandira, and thus Jagannath and Balabhadra becomes poor and had to go out begging...

 which is near Balagandi Chaka in Puri).
Three richly decorated chariots
Ratha
Ratha is the Indo-Iranian term for the spoked-wheel chariot of Antiquity.It derives from a collective to a Proto-Indo-European word for "wheel" that also resulted in Latin rota and is also known from Germanic, Celtic and Baltic...

, resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri.
Encyclopedia
Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath
Jagannath
Jagannath is a transcendental non-anthropotheistic Hindu god worshiped primarily by the people of Indian state of Orissa, and, to a great extent, West Bengal...

 held at Puri in the state
States and territories of India
India is a federal union of states comprising twenty-eight states and seven union territories. The states and territories are further subdivided into districts and so on.-List of states and territories:...

 of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 during the months of June or July. Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath
Jagannath
Jagannath is a transcendental non-anthropotheistic Hindu god worshiped primarily by the people of Indian state of Orissa, and, to a great extent, West Bengal...

 with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area. The festival commemorates Lord Jagannath's annual visit to Gundicha mata's temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

 via aunt's home (Mausi Maa Temple
Mausi Maa Temple
The Mausi Maa temple is situated the mid-way of the Bada danda of Puri. It is a small temple dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.As per Jagannath mythology, once Goddess Lakshmi Devi left Shri Mandira, and thus Jagannath and Balabhadra becomes poor and had to go out begging...

 which is near Balagandi Chaka in Puri).

The Festival

Three richly decorated chariots
Ratha
Ratha is the Indo-Iranian term for the spoked-wheel chariot of Antiquity.It derives from a collective to a Proto-Indo-European word for "wheel" that also resulted in Latin rota and is also known from Germanic, Celtic and Baltic...

, resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri. This commemorates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama, and their sister Subhadra to their aunt' s temple, the Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

 which is situated at a distance of 2 km from their temple. New chariots are built every year. This is the only day when devotees who are not allowed in the temple premises such as non-Hindus and foreigners, can get their glimpse of the deities. During the festival, devotees from all over the World go to Puri with an earnest desire to help pull Lords' chariot with the help of other priests pulling the chariots with ropes. They consider this a pious deed and risk their lives in the huge crowd. The huge processions accompanying the chariots play devotional songs with drums, tambourines, trumpets etc. Children line the streets through which the chariot will pass and add to the mass chorus. The Rath
Temple car
Temple cars are chariots used to carry representations of Hindu gods. The car is usually used on festival days, when many people pull the cart....

 carts themselves are some approximately 45 feet (13.7 m) high and are pulled by the thousands of pilgrims who turn up for the event; the chariots are built anew each year only from a particular type of tree. Millions of devotees congregate at Puri for this annual event from all over the country and abroad. It is also telecasted live on many Indian channels and International channels.

Description

Ratha yatra, the Festival of Chariot : Chariots of Shri Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Orissa, on the second (dwitiya) day of shukla pakshya (waxing cycle of moon) of Ashadh Maas (3rd month in Lunar Calendar). The presiding deities of the Jagannath Temple, Puri main temple, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel [ Sudarshana chakra ] are taken out from the temple precincts in an elaborate ritual procession to their respective chariots. The huge, colourfully decorated chariots, are drawn by multitude of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

 (Gundicha - King Indradyumna's Queen) , two miles away to the North.

On their way back from the Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple
Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of the Hindu God Jagannath is situated in the temple town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. While it remains vacant most of the year, it is occupied by idols of the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra for nine days every year during the annual Rath...

, the three deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple
Mausi Maa Temple
The Mausi Maa temple is situated the mid-way of the Bada danda of Puri. It is a small temple dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.As per Jagannath mythology, once Goddess Lakshmi Devi left Shri Mandira, and thus Jagannath and Balabhadra becomes poor and had to go out begging...

 (Aunt's abode) and have an offering of the Poda Pitha, which is a special type of pancake supposed to be the Lord's favourite. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode.

Holiness and Its Significance

The festival is also known as Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra, Dasavatara Jatra and by a variety of other names. Rathe tu vamanam drishtwa punarjanmam na vidyate: A glimpse of the Vamana, the dwarf form, an incarnation of Lord Jagannatha, is sure to ensure emancipation, release from the cycle of birth and death.
Jatra is an essential part of the ritual of the Hindu system of worship. Jatra literally means travel or journey. Normally, it is the representative deities of temples more popularly known as Utsava Murti in south and Chalanti Pratima or Bije Pratima in Orissa, partake in these journeys. The Jatra for the Ritual Journey take two forms – one involving the short circumbulation around the temple and other involving a longer journey from the temple to some other destination. The Jatra is considered as an important part of festivities and ceremonies of each temple and is considered as a special and sacred occasion.
Rath Jatra being unique among all Jatras is the grandest festival of the supreme divinity who has manifested himself in the Kali Yuga to emancipate humanity and to relieve them from their sufferings. Lord Jagannatha is identified fully with Krishna. In his original manifestation as Nilamadhaba, he was worshipped in a sacred Nyagrodha Briksha or banyan tree. The branches of the tree had spread for several miles and any one entering this area was instantly emancipated and was relieved of the travails of the birth and re-birth. In fact, the influence of Yama, the God of Death, is supposed to have been curtailed in the sacred city of Puri – Srikshetra on account of the presence of Lord Jagannatha and therefore it is also called the Yamanika Tirtha.

A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and saints, poets and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this special festival.
The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages. In fact, there is a famous Oriya song which says that on this occasion, the chariot, the wheels, the grand avenue all become one with Lord Jagannatha himself.

The concept of the chariot has been explained in the Kathopanishada in the following words-

Atmaanam rathinam viddhi shareeram rathamevatu Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi manah pragrahameva cha.

The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts.

The Skanda Purana glorifies the sanctity of the Rath Jatra in the following words-

Gundicha mandapam namam jatrahamajanam pura Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat.

Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed. Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja in his famous Vaidehisa Vilasa mentions that the Lord comes out from his sanctum for participating in the Gundicha Jatra, another name of the Festival of Chariots, only for redeeming the fallen, the patita jana who get the opportunity to behold their dearest god at close quarters on this occasion. Similarly, saint poet Salabega
Salabega
Salabega was an Oriyan religious poet of India in the early 17th century.Salabega was born in a Muslim family, and was the son of Lalbeg. Lalbeg was a military officer from Bihar in the Mughal Empire and friend of Jahangir, Moghul Emperor from 1605-1627...

 waxes eloquent in praise of the dark Lord Jagannath and says that the Lord swaying and moving like a wild elephant arrives at the Grand Avenue and rides his chariot and destroys in a flash all the sins of his devotees, even if these may be grave or unpardonable.

The Chariots

The three chariots of Balarama, Subhadra and Jagannatha are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees like phassi, dhausa, etc. They are customarily brought from the ex-princely state of Dasapalla by a specialist team of carpenters who have hereditary rights and privileges for the same. The logs are traditionally set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi. These are collected near Puri and then transported by road.

The three chariots are decorated as per the unique scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue. Covered with bright canopies made of stripes of red cloth and combined with those of black, yellow and blue colours, the huge chariots are lined across the wide avenue in front of the majestic temple close to its eastern entrance, which is also known as the Sinhadwara or the Lion’s Gate.

Lord Jagannatha’s Chariot is called Nandighosa. It is forty-five feet high and forty-five feet square at the wheel level. It has sixteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter, and is decked with a cover made of red and yellow cloth. Lord Jagannatha is identified with Krushna, who is also known as Pitambara, the one attired in golden yellow robes and hence the distinguishing yellow stripes on the canopy of this chariot.

The Chariot of Lord Balarama, called the Taladhwaja, is the one with the Palm Tree on its flag. It has fourteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter and is covered with red and blue cloth. Its height is forty-four feet.

The Chariot of Subhadra, known as Dwarpadalana, literally "trampler of pride," is forty-three feet high with twelve wheels, each of seven-foot diameter. This Chariot is decked with a covering of red and black cloth - black being traditionally associated with Shakti and the Mother Goddess.

Around each of the chariots are nine Parsva devatas, painted wooden images representing different deities on the chariots’ sides. Each of the chariots is attached to four horses. These are of different colours – white ones for Balarama, dark ones for Jagannatha, and red ones for Subhadra. Each chariot has a charioteer called Sarathi. The three charioteers attached to the chariots of Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra respectively are Matali, Daruka and Arjuna.

DESCRIPTION OF CHARIOTS

1) Chariot of Jagannath -NANDIGHOSHA/GARUDADHWAJA/KAPIDHWAJA

Number of wheels : 16
Total Number of wooden pieces used : 832
Height : 13'.5"
Length and breadth : 34'6" x 34'6"
Wrappings : Red, Yellow colour cloths
Guarded by : Garuda
Name of the charioteer : Dahuka
The flag : Trailokyamohini
The horses : Shankha, Balahaka, Suweta, Haridashwa
The rope : Sankhachuda
Presiding Nine Deities : (i) Varaha
(ii) Gobardhan
(iii) Krushna, Gopi Krushna
(iv) Nrusingha
(v) Rama
(vi) Narayan
(Vii) Trivikrama
(viii) Hanuman
(ix) Rudra

2) Chariot of Balabhadra - TALADHWAJA
Number of wheels : 14
Total Number of wooden pieces used : 763
Height : 13'2"
Length and breadth : 33' x 33'
Wrappings : Red, Bluish green colour cloths
Guarded by : Basudev
Name of the charioteer : Matali
The flag : Unnani
The horses : Tribra, Ghora, Dirghasharma,Swornanava
The rope : Basuki
Presiding Nine Deities : (i) Ganesh
(ii) Kartikeya
(iii) Sarvamangala
(iv) Pralambari
(v) Hatayudha
(vi) Mrutyunjaya
(vii) Natamvara
(viii) Mukteswar
(ix) Sheshadeva

3) Chariot of Subhadra - DARPADALANA/PADMADHWAJA
Number of wheels : 12
Total Number of wooden pieces used : 593
Height : 12'9"
Length and breadth : 31'6" x 31'6"
Wrappings : Red, Black colour cloths
Guarded by : Jayadurga
Name of the charioteer : Arjuna
The flag : Nadambika
The horses : Rochika, Mochika, Jita, Aparajita
The rope : Swarnachuda
Presiding Nine Deities : (i) Chandi
(ii) Chamunda
(iii) Ugratara
(iv) Vanadurga
(v) Shulidurga
(vi) Varahi
(vii) Shyamakali
(viii) Mangala
(ix) Vimal

CAR Festival

Chandan Jatra, the Sandalwood Paste Festival

The construction of the chariots starts on Akshaya Trutiya, the third day of the bright fortnight of Vaisakha, with ritual fire worship. This takes place in front of the palace of the King of Puri and opposite the main office of the Puri temple. On this day, the new agricultural season starts and farmers start ploughing their fields. This day also marks the beginning of the summer festival of the deities, also known as the sandalwood festival or Chandan Jatra, which lasts for three weeks. In this festival, the representative images of the presiding deities are taken out in colourful processions and given a ceremonial boat ride in the Narendra tank everyday. In an interesting demonstration of the assimilative character of the Jagannatha cult, Madanmohana and Rama Krushna, representing Jagannatha & Balarama partake in the festival with the representatives' images of the presiding deities of five main Shiva temples of Puri. These are curiously known as Pancha Pandava, the five brothers of the Mahabharata story. Later the deities have a ritual bath in a small temple in the middle of the tank, in stone tubs filled with water, sandalwood paste, scents and flowers.

This sandalwood festival culminates in the Snana Jatra, the Bathing Festival on the full moon day of the month of Jestha. On this day, the presiding deities descend from their seats on an elevated platform in the sanctum sanctorum, the bejewelled throne. They are bathed in 108 pots of water brought from the suna kua, the golden well and assume the elephant form on the special bathing platform, close to the Eastern boundary wall of the temple. From that day the deities remain in symbolic and ritual convalescence for about two weeks. They are barred from view of the ordinary devotees. Only three special patta chitras, traditional Oriya paintings of natural colours on cloth stiffened with starch, known as Anasara Pattis, are strung on a bamboo screen hiding the deities from public view, can be seen by the public. During this period, the deities are given only roots, leaves, berries and fruits to cure them from their indisposition. This ritual is a reminder of the strong tribal elements in the genesis and evolution of the Jagannatha cult. The progeny of Lalita, daughter of the original tribal worshipper Biswabasu, chieftain of hunters, and the Brahmin priest Vidyapati, are known as daitapatis or daitas. They have almost exclusive privilege of serving the Lord during the convalescence and through the entire period of Ratha Jatra or the Festival of Chariots.

International Rath Yarta

The Ratha Yatra festival has become a common sight in most major cities of the world since 1968 through the ISKCON Hare Krishna
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness , known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada...

 movement. Its leader A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada successfully transplanted the festival which now happens on an annual basis in places all over the world in over 100 cities including Dublin, Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

, Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Bath, Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Antwerp, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

 and Venice, CA. The Rathajatra
Dhamrai Jagannath Rath
Dhamrai Jagannath Rath is a chariot temple dedicated to the Hindu God Jagannath located in Dhamrai, Bangladesh. The deities are housed in an elaborate six storied wooden chariot and are taken out in a grand annual procession known as the Rathyatra. the Chariot is adorned by carvings and paintings...

 in Dhamrai, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 is one of the most important in Bangladesh.

See also

  • Jagannath
    Jagannath
    Jagannath is a transcendental non-anthropotheistic Hindu god worshiped primarily by the people of Indian state of Orissa, and, to a great extent, West Bengal...

  • Jagannath Temple
    Jagannath Temple
    -India:*Jagannath Temple, Puri, Orissa, India*Jagannath Temple, Koraput, Orissa, India*Jagannath Temple, Baripada, Mayurbhanj, Orissa, India*Jagannath Temple, Nayagarh, Orissa, India*Jagannath Temple, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India*Jagannath Temple, Delhi, India...

  • Puri
    Puri
    Puri is district headquarter, a city situated about south of state capital Bhubaneswar, on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa. It is also known as Jagannath Puri after the Jagannath Temple . It is a holy city of the Hindus as a part of the Char Dham pilgrimages...

  • Tiruvarur Chariot festival
    Tiruvarur Chariot festival
    The festival called thearottam is a historical event that still follows the same rituals and tradition associates with the thyagarajaswami temple, Tiruvarur,in TamilNadu...


Lord Jagannath Temple,Sector-31/D,Chandigarh(UT)
Chandigarh Oriyas are celebrating Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra

External links

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