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Jagannath Rath Yatra

Date: 18th July, 2015

Ratha Yatra at Puri is one of the oldest and biggest Ratha Yatra all across globe. The Rath Yatra, or the colorful festival of chariots, is a joyful event commemorated for thousands of years in the spiritual city of Jagannath Puri. It is a major festival, which is attended by millions of worshippers. This is the only festival, which is dedicated to Jagannath triad: Balabhadra (Balarama), Jagannath (Krishna), and sister Subhadra.

Immense and exquisitely decked chariots carrying the statues of all the three deities are hauled from shrine of Jagannath to Gundicha temple. Rath Yatra is of great significance to all the Hindus, and especially who are the worshippers of Lord Vishnu. At this time, the three divine beings are carried out in temple like chariots or ‘raths’, which are pulled by thousands of devotees.

Rathas (Chariots)

The Rath Yatra at Puri is a very unique, special and rare event. Since time immemorial, worshippers are following the custom of taking out all the three divine beings in an awestruck procession on specially adorned chariots. All the rathas or chariots have different specifications.

The ratha of Lord Jagannath is known as ‘Nandighosa’. It is 23 cubits in height and has 18 giant wheels. Lord Jagannath’s chariot is marked with a garuda and cakra, with four white horses and yellow in color. ‘Taladhvaja’ is the chariot of Baladeva. This chariot’s cart is blue in color, with beautiful palm tree emblem, and four mammoth horses. ‘Devalana’ , the ratha of Subhadra is black in color and shielded by Vanadurga.

All the heavenly chariots are framed as per strict religious rituals and as per the specifications of Vedas. These chariots are extremely dazzling, embellished with lots of fresh flowers, shimmering beads, colored fabrics, and a number of mirrors. Many artisans and artists are engaged in the construction of these three fascinating chariots and give them the best possible looks.

Traditions of Jagannath Ratha Yatra

Jagannath Rath Yatra starts with the invoking ceremony or Ratha Prathistha in the early hours of morning. This is followed by the most exuberating part known as Ratha Tana or chariot pulling. It is an old age tradition that the king of the Puri sweeps up the way prior to the rathas of the divine beings proceed for the captivating and dignified procession.

The super enthralling festival celebrates the return of Lord Krishna to his abode in Vrindavan. It is said that every year, when the summer reaches to its peak, Lord Puri goes back to his garden palace as a part of his yearly summer vacation.

Lord Jagannath, with his younger sister and elder brother goes in a special chariot. Incipiently, the divine festival has its root in the residents of Vrindavan, bringing back the divine beings to the garden palace. Millions of devotees take part in this grand gala and it starts with a huge fanfare of cymbals, drums, trumpets, and conches.

Accompanied by several musical instruments, which are played by dancers and musicians, the divine travelers start the heavenly journey to the garden palace. During the entire event, people sing holy bhajans and songs and the whole environment gives a heavenly appearance. After a nine-day sojourn of the holy beings, the festival gets over and the three deities return to the shrine of Lord Jagannath. As a part of customs, the chariots are broken after every procession.