Jagannatha Rath Yatra

MAAANANDAMAYEEMAASANATHRatha Jatra, the Festival of Chariot: Chariots of Shri Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Odisha, 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’s main temple, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel (Sudarshana Chakra) are removed from the temple in a ceremonial procession to their chariots. The huge, colourfully decorated chariots are drawn by multitude of devotees on thebada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha Temple (Gundicha – King Indradyumna’s Queen), two miles away to the North.

On their way back from the Gundicha Temple, the three deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple (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

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.MAAANANDAMAYEEMAASANATH

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.jaga27

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.

Nandighosa Rath

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.

Taladhwaja Rath

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.

Dwarpadalana or Padmadhwaja Rath

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 – dark ones for Balarama, white 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 Daruka, Matali and Arjuna.

Jai Jagannatha Maha Prabhu

MAAANANDAMAYEEMAASANATH

Legend of Ratha Yatra

This event marks Lord Jagannath, travelling in the chariot with his brother, Lord Balarama and sister Subhadra. It attracts pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. The festival has been celebrated since ancient times. According to a legend about its origin, Jagannath is said to have expressed his desire to visit his birthplace every year for a week. Thus, the deities are taken to the Gundicha Mandir every year. According to another legend, Subhadra, wanted to visit Dwaraka, her parent`s home, and her brothers took her back to Dwaraka on this day. The Ratha Yatra is a commemoration of that visit. According to the Bhagavad Purana, it is also believed that it was on this day that Krishna and Balarama went to Mathura to participate in a wrestling competition, at Kansa`s invitation. The chariots are cleaned by the Gajapati Maharaja, with a golden broom to proclaim that he is the first of the Lord`s servants.

Rath Yatra involves following ceremonies:

Snan Yatra

The idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are brought out and bathed on a pedestal known as the snanamandap amidst series of rituals and chanting of `Jai Jagannath` and `Haribol` and beating of conch shells, bathing ceremony was performed on Purnima of Jyestha month (Devasnan Purnima), to commemorate the appearance day of Lord Jagannath.

Anavarsha

The bathing ceremony discolors the painted wooden deities. Therefore nobody except the main priest is allowed to see and pay homage for a period of 15 days, which is known as Anavasara time. It is said that Lord Jagannath himself had ordered King Indradyumna about this Anavasara period.

Netrotsava

For a staunch devotee of Jagannath, the Anavasara time is really a tough time of separation. The images are re-painted and brought to the Ratnavedi or the main platform for the devotees to see and pay homage. This ceremony is named as Netrotsava. On this day people take the opportunity of seeing the deities in all new and young form. This is called `Nava Yauvana Darshan`.
Lord Jagannath Ratha Yatra Festival (Car Festival)
The main journey of the “Car Festival” involves the large Deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra to be transported from the temple, each on their own chariot, every year, where:

* Jagannath`s chariot, Nandighosha is a 35 feet square, rising to a height of 45 feet, with 16 wheels, 7 feet in diameter and is yellow in colour.

* Balabhadra`s chariot is called Taladhvaja, is blue in colour and has 14 wheels.

* Subhadra`s chariot is the smallest, with 12 wheels and is called Devadalan.

Then the images are taken from the temple to Jagannath`s country house at Gundicha Bari, two miles away. They are confined to a solitary abode for a fortnight where they undergo treatment, are offered special Ayurvedic medicine and some special liquid diet called sarapana. After a week`s rest, they are taken back to the temple at Puri. This return car festival or Bahuda Yatra begins on the `Ashadha Sukla Dasami`, the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Ashadha (June-July).

On the Ratha Yatra day, temple staff and congregational members cook enormous quantities of foodstuffs, and everyone gets to enjoy as much Mahaprasadam as they care to consume. The continued success of Puri`s Ratha Yatra is so fundamentally important to Orissa that the state government has proclaimed the Yatra a “state festival”.