India is a country of cultures and traditions that dates back to centuries. Be it Holi, Diwali, Chauth or anything the uniqueness lies specific to the area and their residents and when you are in Odisha how can you miss the most reverberated “Ratha Yatra”.
Odisha is the city of temples and “Puri” is very famous as one of the four char Dhams of India. It is believed that Lord Jagannath resides in this place. The whole year many festivals are celebrated in the premise of great Jagannath temple and Ratha Yatra is the most special one.
Puri Jagannath Ratha Yatra Dates
It is celebrated on Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya every year, and this year it falls on Tuesday, 23rd June 2020. As earlier this year also everyone will celebrate the festival with huge folklore and same fervor because not only in India rather in Dublin, New York, and many countries also it is celebrated with the same enthusiasm.
Ratha Yatra history
Jagannath Puri Ratha yatra arranged at Puri in Odisha. Lord Jagannath visits his birthplace every year like that peoples are believing. Lord Puri Jagannath is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This festival is devoted to Lord Krishna, his sister Subhadra, and his elder brother Balarama. Lord Puri Jagannath is known as Lord Krishna. For this Ratha yatra, different stories are there.
One of the stories is linked with king subtle. He is the great devotee of Lord Jagannath. One day he asked Carver to design Lord Krishna idol with his chariot at Kurukshetra along with his sister Subhadra, and elder brother Balaram. The carver granted to design idol but he desired to stand in loneliness in a room. The King granted the condition of the carver. After a long time, the King in the irritation opened the door of the room where the carver was working. Suddenly, the carver has vanished and the King could see were the deities. It said that these three idols are identical in the Ratha Yatra in Puri that the King asked to design the carver.
Lord Jagannath festival is celebrated annually. This process involves the holy parade of whole Hindu deities the Ratha Yatra with Goddess Subhadra, Lord Balabhadra and Gundicha Mata. The reverting process of Ratha Yatra to the Puri Jagannath temple is called as Bahuda Yatra.
Rath Yatra Celebration
Ratha yatra marks the resemblance of Lord Jagannath’s childhood days with his sister Subhadra and elder brother Balabhadra. The celebrations of Ratha Yatra start with“Devasnana Purnima”and as per the rituals, the idols are taken to their aunt’s temple with huge procession and folklore's.
The festival of Ratha Yatra got its name from the chariots on which three deities are taken to their birthplace or Gundicha temple in huge processions.
Specifications of Chariots
Three chariots are made every year, each for Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra. This chariot making starts from the day of “Akshay Tritiya” which was celebrated on 7th May this year.
The chariot made for Lord Jagannath called Nandighiosha.
Height - 45.6 feet
No of wheels - 16
Side deities - Madan Mohan
Fabric Colour - Red and yellow
The chariot of Lord Balabhadra called Taaldhvaja.
Height - 45 feet
No of wheels - 12 wheels
Fabric Colour - Red and green
Side deities - Small Rama & Krishna
Third chariot made for Devi Subhadra and called Devadalana. Its height is 44.6 feet and consists of 14 wheels.
Height - 44.6 feet
No of wheels - 12
Fabric Colour - Red and black
Side deities - Sudarshan
Each of the chariots carries some other deities and in total seven deities travel around the city. Huge population comes to pull the rope of these chariots on Ratha yatra to welcome the lord and accompany him to Gundicha temple. The deities retire in Gundicha temple for 7 days and have good food from their aunt’s. After a week-long stay, the deities are brought back from Gundicha temple to Jagannath temple and on its way, the deities also visit their aunt's temple also known as Artha Sani Temple or Mousi Maa Temple.
Rituals of Ratha yatra
Devasnana Purnima / Snanayatra - 17th June (Monday)
Devasnana Purnima / Snanayatra celebrated on “Jyesthapurnima” and this day the idols of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhdra shaken from the “Ratnasimhasan” or the seating place of the temple and kept on “Snana Bedi” followed by huge crowd and processions.
- Bathing of the deities done through 108 pitchers water of the well present inside the temple premise.
- The bathing ceremony followed by many cultural events:
- Sada Besha - The deities are dressed up in clothes without many pieces of jewelry just after the bathing ceremony
- Hathi Besha - In the noontime, the deities are decorated like Lord Ganesha and called as Hathi Besha.
- Sahanamela - In the evening the deities are kept for the people who wish to get a glimpse of the Lord’s Idol.
- Ansara Period - After Devasnana the deities are kept in the “Anasar” house for 15 days which is also known as “Anavasara Period” as Lord Jagannath goes missing from the normal view of his followers.
- Nibhrita - This marks 15 days' isolation of Lord Jagannath from the whole world and his wife Goddess Lakshmi. In this period he has taken care of by his servants Dayita. 15-Days periods end just a day before Ratha Yatra.
- Nava Yauvana Vesha - It is assumed that after having a bath the idols become dull so they painted again by his servants (Deyitas) and decorated with fresh clothes, flowers, and garlands. This new look of the deities is known as Navyauvana Vesha.
- Netrotsava - Netrotsava - festival signifies the invocation of the Lord's eyes where the deities' idols are kept inside the temple in a semi-horizontal position.
- The temples main pujaris and purohits together paint the eyes of the lord, and this is the last ceremony to be held before starting the Ratha yatra. After performing Netrotsava ritual, the idols are kept in their respective chariots along with their respective side deities.
Placing the idols on Chariots
The chariots are kept at “Singha Dwar” of the temple facing towards the North direction.
- Sudarshana is first kept on the chariot of Devi Subhadra.
- Lord Balbhadra being eldest in the family is kept first in his chariot.
- After Balbhadra, the Devi Subhadra is kept in the chariot.
- At last Lord Jagannath is kept in his chariot.
- PAHANDI - It is one such ritual when Lord Balbhadra and Lord Jagannath’s idols are swung in to air in forward and backward directions before placing them inside the chariot.
Beginning of Ratha Yatra
- The chariots of the deities proceed towards the Gundicha temple, where Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra proceed directly to the temple. But Lord Jagannath stops over at the “Mausi maa” temple to have a special regional dessert called “Podo Pitha” from the hands of his aunt and again proceeds further.
- All three deities remain at Gundicha temple for 7-days and served with specially made sweets and prasad.
- Bahuda Yatra - After 7 days the deities are kept back into the chariots and taken back to the main temple with huge processions and disciples.
- For whole night the deities spend their time on chariots itself.
Suna Besha is an Oriya word which signifies the sparkling golden beauty of the deities. It is celebrated on “BADA EKADASHI” and marks the ending of the Ratha Yatra celebration when the deities are decorated with Gold made arms and feet along with beautiful crowns and other ornaments. The decorated idols are kept outside THE MAIN TEMPLE for people to get a beautiful view. This is a very auspicious occasion and witnessing this blesses one with immense strength, power, happiness, and prosperity.
Facts about Ratha Yatra
- A tala fruit is placed on the top of the chariot of Lord Balabhadra.
- A Kalash is always placed on the top of the chariot of Lord Jagannath, and it should not be changed ever.
- It never rains on the day of Ratha Yatra despite being a rainy season.
- While moving Lord Jagannath’s chariot for the first time, the chariot won't move but after some time, it automatically starts moving.