The Enchanting Chariot Festival of Puri- The Jagannath Rath Yatra!
India is a land of spirituality and faith. The people over here have deep faith on Almighty and their religion. It is a land of festivity and every state of its has major festivals of their own. These festivals are unique and hold much importance. The festivals are observed with enthusiasm and splendor. To know the true colors of India and the concept behind the festivals one should visit India at the time of festivals, when the country possess a different outlook, when the people gets indulged in offering prayers and remain happy.
Odisha, previously known as Orissa celebrates its major festival Jagannath Rath Yatra every year at the holy city of Puri. This year the Rath Yatra or Car Festival will be held on 18 July. It is considered as a part of the Char Dham pilgrimages. The Puri Rath Yatra displays three majestic chariots possessing the idols of the deities- Lord Jagannath, Lord Balrama and Devi Subhadra.
This religious festival is attended by millions of devotees and travelers from across the globe in Jagannath dham Puri. It is believed that attending the Rath Yatra is a gateway to heaven. It is either held in the month of June or July every year.
Significance of Rath Yatra
The festival marks the annual visit of Lord Jagannath to Gundicha Temple via his maternal aunt’s home (Mausi Maa Temple) located near Balagandi Chaka in Puri.
The Journey- Jaganath Rath Yatra
Every year the Rath Yatra or the journey begins from the Jaganath Temple of Puri. A grand procession of the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are taken out in huge ornamented chariots to reach Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days. Then the return Yatra or journey of the deities to the Main temple takes place, which is known as Bahuda Yatra.
The Fascinating Rituals
Several fascinating rituals are involved with this festival. The most important part of the ritual is Chera Pahara, where the street has to be cleaned by Gajapati King with a golden-handled broom then only the chariots arrive. Then the ceremony of Pahandi Vijay begins, where the dwarf forms of the deities are installed on these huge and beautifully decorated chariots. The Yatra of the Chariots then begins from the main doorway Singhdwara (the Lion’s Gate) to the main destination (Gundicha Temple).
The Grand Chariots
These grand chariots are built every year by skilled craftsmen using wood of particular trees like dhausa and phassi brought from Dasapalla. The logs come floating in the river Mahanadi, collected near Puri and moved through the roadways. The process of constructing the three chariots have been prevailing the same since centuries. These adorned chariots that stand on the Bada Danda are roofed with bright canopies (of red cloth with stripes of yellow, black and blue).
Each of the chariots has four horses attached. These chariots have painted wooden images of many deities on its sides. Each of the chariots is attached to four horses. Each chariot has a charioteer. They are named as Daruka (Jagannatha’s charioteer), Matali (Balarama’s Charioteer) and Arjuna (Subhadra’s Charioteer).
The chariots are fastened with ropes and are enthusiastically pulled by devotees, coming from all over the world.
Popularity of the Car Festival
One can estimate the popularity of this festival by looking at the crowd gathered during the festival. The pious tourists seeking blessings from Lord Jaganath remain present there and enjoy being a part of this majestic celebration.
The holy city Puri with its magnificent temples and spectacular beaches makes a perfect holiday spot for tourists. So, if you want to participate in the Famous Car Festival of Puri then plan your india tour now.