RATH YATRA | Chariot Festival | Car Festival
In the Indian state of Odisha, lord Jagannath is worshipped by millions of devotees and is celebrated as a religious festival in the hindus , hence this is celebrated as the Rath Yatra at that place. This festival is also known as the Ghosa Jatra and is observed mostly by hindus. The festival begins on the Ashadha Shukla Dwitiya and marks its end on Ashadha Shukla Dashami.
The festival is being honoured on lord Jagannath’s visit to the Gundhicha temple via the route of Mausi maa temple situated near Saradha Bali , Puri.
At Puri , every year the celebration of the Chariots of lord Jagannath is being celebrated and worshipped as a festival , and is famously described and being called as the Rath Yatra.
It is celebrated from the dwitiya or the second day of the Shukla Pakhya in the Masa of Ashadha which can be remembered in the odia calendar as the 3rd month.
The chariots are being taken and the moderating idols from all the temples which include the Jagannath temple , Puri’s main temple , Lord Balabhadra , Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadr along with the sudarshan chakra which is the celestial wheel. All of these pure elements are being purely detached from the temple by performing some rituals till their chariots. The grand route to the Gundhicha temple, which is also referred to as the bada danda locally , is fully decorated and multiple devotees of the lord draw to the colourfully decorated chariots of the God. They are being taken two miles away to the north.
To pay tribute to a Muslim devotee who’s name is Bhakta Salabega , the chariot of the lord who carries the lord Jagannath, Nandighosa holds up at the place where he was being cremated.
On their return from the Gundhicha temple ,all the three deities are being stopped for sometime at the temple of Mausi Ma and they have the offering of a special pancake that is named as Poda Pitha by local people over there , and this pancake is being suggested to be the favorite of the lord. The deities are returned back to the abode, after a rest of seven days.
CHARIOTS OF THE LORD
Wood is being taken from the trees like dhausa ,phassi etc and all the total three chariots of the lord are newly constructed every year for Lord Balabhadra , Subhadra and lord Jagannath.
There is an expert group of Carpenters, who have the privilege and are in the same profession since ages as their ancestors also were involved in the same work . These carpenters bring the wood which is required for the chariot from the former princely state of Daspalla .
In the river Mahanadi , the logs of the wood are set afloat as rafts according to the traditional culture. These logs are then picked from the river at Puri and are then transferred by roadways.
The Sinhadwara or the Lion’s gate is the eastern gate which is close to the front of the temple where all the chariots of the God are lined.
On the sides of the Chariot are the different deities which are represented as painted wooden pictures and also the sides of the chariots are lined by nine parsva devatas. Each of the chariot is carried and driven by a sarathi who is known as the charioteer and has four horses.
THE CHANDAN YATRA
The third day of the bright night of Baisakh , the construction of the Chariots was started on the day of Akshiya Tritya which is done with ritual fire worship. This is being held in the palace of the emperor of Puri in the front area and the main office of the Puri temple lies opposite towards it. The fields have been plowed by the farmers and the new agricultural season is being started. The summer festival of the idols is marked on this day which is known as the Chandan Yatra or the Sandalwood Yatra. The chandan yatra then lasts for a total of three weeks . A boat ride is being given to the Lords or the deities in the Narendra Pokhari or the Tank each and every day . By a royal colourful parade , the pictures of the deities of the Lord are taken out for the boat ride. From the Mahabharata the pancha pandavas or the five brothers play an important role in the rath yatra. All the idols of the god have to later on take a bath in the small temple in the tank’s middle portion in tubes made up of stone tubs which are filled with water , sandalwood paste , different kinds of scents and fresh flowers. On the day of the full moon of the month of Jestha the bathing festival comes to the peak in the Snana Yatra.
RATH YATRA CELEBRATED ON INTERNATIONAL PLATFORM
In most of the major cities in the world , the Rath Yatra festival has become a very magnificent and also a common site since the earth 1968. The rath yatra has become common due to the movement started by the Iskcon Hare Krishna . By the blessings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Shri Jagannath the swami of Iskcon , Swami Prabhupada has fortunately transported the festival which now is being celebrated throughout the world. And also these cover over 108 cities that include the following: Moscow , New York , Houston , Atlanta , London , Rome , Kolkata , Mumbai , Karachi , Berlin , Florence , Sydney , Bath , Amsterdam, Toronto , Los Angeles, Kuala Lumpur , Oslo , Paris , Melbourne , Auckland , Lima , Belfast , Dublin , Mexico City , Bangkok, Madrid, Manchester and many many more .
RATH YATRA DATES
Mostly every year Rath Yatra occurs during the time of June – July every year throughout the world. The Rath Yatra starts from the Ashadha Shukla Dwitiya and comes to an end on the Ashadha Shukla Dashmi according to the vedic hindi calendar .