Jagannath temple, Puri, - colorful rath yatra

Jagannath temple, Puri, Odisha. three chariots. mmts.mmtstraintimings.in
2017. rathyatralive.com
The annual rath (chariot) yatra festival of Puri is quite famous and is a spectacular event attended by lakhs of people from the state of Odisha and elsewhere.. It is part of the annual temple ritual which has been observed for centuries. This yatra is symbolic of  Sri Krishna's journey  from Gokulam to Mathura - symbolic of  journey to light from the dark.

The concept of the chariot festival is explained in the Kathopanishad in Sanskrit as  follows:

'Atmanam  rathinam  viddhi sareeram  rathamevatu
Buddhim  tu  saarathim  viddhi  marah pragrahameva cha''
-  meaning the wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts. So, in any act use your kno
wledge with discretion.

In the months of  Asadha - June or July every year, the three deities of  Jagannath temple - Jagannath, Balabhadra and their sister Subadra   are  taken out onto the Bada Danda (main street of Puri) and travel roughly three kilometers  to the Shri Gundicha Temple, in huge  wooden chariots (ratha). At Gundicha, the three raths will be there for nine days and after certain rituals and pujas are done as per age-old tradition, they will 


Puri Jagannath temple- three deities. organiser.org
return to the main temple. This festival is known as Rath Yatra, meaning the journey (yatra) of the chariots (ratha). This very old temple ritual is being observed with  religious fervor and devotion.

Not followed any where in India, is an unusual and a unique   ritual associated with the RathaYatra called  ''chhera pahara."
During the rath yatra , the Gajapati King, wearing  the dress of a sweeper,  sweeps the places all around the deities and chariots participating in  the Chera Pahara (sweeping with water) as part of the ritual. The Gajapati King, with devotion and humility, cleanses the path of the Rath yatra by  sprinkling sandalwood water and powder before the chariots with a gold-handled broom.

As per the custom, the King is the  most exalted person in the Kalinga kingdom, but  still  he renders the menial service to Lord Jagannath, unmindful of his status, power and affluence.  After all  the king himself  is the humble servant of Jagannath, the Lord of the universe and is always at his beck and call. This unique  ritual, not followed elsewhere in India,  subtly implies that before God all are equal - whether they are rich or poor. Particularly, in the domain of Lord  Jagannath, there is no  distinction between  the powerful ruler  and the humble – subjects. This implies '' affluence and poverty are transitory''.

The observance of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath dates back to the period of the Puranas.  Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana. Kapila Samhita  give the description in detail.
chariot work under way. Puri Jagannath temple, Indiawww.ivy-baron.com

The following are the amazing facts of rath yatra at Puri:  

01. The Rathas have huge  wooden  wheels which are built anew every year. After Yatra, they are dismantled and from the wood, god images are made and sold to the devotees.

 02. The chariot of Jagannath is about 45 feet high and 35 feet broad and takes about 2 months to construct it.The wheels are huge  about two meters in  diameter.

Puri Jagannath temple, Giant wheel.www.rathyatra.net

03. Pulling the huge rope connecting the rath-chariot is considered a holy act and thousands of people participate in pulling the chariots and it will be equal to doing several pious duties.
04. The festival takes place on the second (dwitiya) day of shukla pakshya (waxing cycle of moon) of Ashadh Maas (3rd month in Lunar Calendar).
05. A darshan  of the Vamana, the dwarf (an - incarnation of Lord Jagannatha), means emancipation for humans, release from the human bondage  and travails of  birth and death cycles.

06. Quality wood from trees like phassi, dhausa, etc are used for chariot construction. No other wood is allowed.

07. Lord Jagannatha's chariot is called Nandighosa, and he is identified with Krishna, hence the chariot is marked by distinguishing yellow stripes on the canopy of this chariot which has sixteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter.

08. The chariot of Lord Balarama, called the Taladhwaja is covered with red and blue cloth.

 09. The chariot of Subhadra, known as Dwarpadalana is  being traditionally associated with Shakti and the Mother Goddess; hence the chariot is covered with black stripes.This chariot has  twelve wheels,

10. Like other temples only the representative deities called Utchava Murthis are taken out on the rath. The Moolava Murthis will always remain in the sanctum.

 11. On the yatra day, devotees take bath and after doing pooja  participate in the rope pulling.

Thus, Puri rath yatra is a colorful and devotional temple festival marked by gaiety and enjoyment and, of course,
devotion. Thousands of people, while pulling the giant raths, experience the religious ecstasy or euphoria that gives them mental strength to pass through drudgery in their lives and succeed whatever they do hereon.