Jagannath Rath Yatra

Rath Yatra Dates 2016

  • Rath Yatra- Wednesday 6 July
  • Bahuda Jatra (Return Car Festival)- Friday 15 July

Rath Yatra, the world famous Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balarama and their sister Subhadra is celebrated in a grand manner in the coastal town of Puri situated in the temple state of India, Orissa. The Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra is the age old traditional festival of Orissa for which not only the people of Orissa wait eagerly throughout the year but also people from all over India and even abroad come to witness the grandeur of this Rathyatra, sometimes called Car Festival of India!

Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra 2016 Date

This year, Rath Yatra will be celebrated on 6 July 2016. The Return Car Festival or the Bahuda Jatra will be celebrated on 15 July 2016.

When is Jagannath Rath Yatra Celebrated?

Lord Jagannath Balbhadra SubhadraRath Yatra, known in Oriya as Rath Jatra, is celebrated on ‘Shukla Paksha Dwititya Tithi of Aashadha’ (the second day of bright half of Hindu Aashadh month which corresponds to the months of June-July). Rath Yatra is the only one of the most important events of a series of celebrations that begin with the cutting of trees – required for making the chariots of the three Deities- on Magh Saptami and ends on the day of Ashadh Ekadashi when Lord Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra return and take their original seats in their temple, Sri Mandira.

How is Jagannath Rath Yatra Celebrated in Puri?

What the world knows as the Car Festival of Lord Jagannath, has various other names such as Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra, Dasavatara Jatra and the most famous one – Rath Yatra. Millions of people from all over the world come to the holy town of Puri to celebrate Rath Yatra. The Idols of all the three deities- Lord Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra as well as the Celestial Wheel of Jagannath, the Sudarshana Chakra- are carried into a grand procession in even more grand chariots specially made each year for the three gods. The construction of grand temple like chariots begins on Akshaya Tritiya, in the month of Vaisakha (April-May), with ritual fire worship. This ceremony takes place in front of the palace of the King of Puri right at the opposite of main office of the Puri temple.

Devotees Pulling Lord Jagannath Chariot

The devotees hold the ropes of the divine chariots and pull it forward towards the Gundicha temple, about two miles away from the Jagannath temple in Puri.

The enthusiasm and the excitement of Lord Jagannath’s devotees fill the whole atmosphere of Puri with religious spirit that can only be felt and never can be described. It is believed that the chariots, the rope, the wheels all become one with the Lord Jagannath and one who even touches them makes way for his salvation. Due to this belief only, the devotees do not even fear the crowd and the risk involved while trying to pull the grand wheels of the Chariots of the three deities.

Read about Things to do in Puri during Rath Yatra

As told earlier too, the Car Festival of Jagannath is not the only festival celebrated; there are a series of other celebrations that complete the Puri Rath Yatra. These are all explained below.

Debsnana Yatra – the Bathing Festival of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra

Jagannath Deb Snan Yatra‘Deb Snana Pumima’ is one of the major festivals celebrated before the Rath Yatra on Jyeshtha Purnima, the full moon day of Jyeshtha month (May-June). On this day, all the three deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are taken out of the temple’s sanctum sanctorum to an open platform known as ‘Snana Bedi’ for a bath. This bathing platform is situated at the outer temple complex and faces the Grand Road of Puri. All the three idols are given ceremonial bath following prescribed rituals. 108 pitchers of aromatic and herbal water is taken out from the Suna kua (well) of the temple which then remains unused till next year’s snan yatra. After the ceremonial bath, the deities are decorated in ‘Hathi Vesha’ -the elephant attire which symbolizes the incarnation of Lord Ganesha.

Anasara – the Isolation Period of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra

After ‘Snan Yatra’ the three deities are taken back to the temple but not to the sanctum sanctorum because for the next fifteen days, all the three gods stay inaccessible to the devotees. It is said that in this fortnight, the deities fall sick and are given treatment by the Vaidyas (Ayurvedic doctors) of the temple. During these 15 days, the pilgrims who come to Puri for rath Yatra can have the darshan of the representative gods of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra – Basudeva, Narayan and Bhubaneshwari whose images are painted on a canvas and kept inside the sanctum sanctorum.

Naba Jaubana Darsana- the Rejuvenation Day of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra

On the fifteenth day after ‘Snan Purnima’ during which they receive treatment, the deities reappear before their devotees. This is called ‘Naba Jaubana Darsana’ (Glimpse of Renewed Youth of God) which is celebrated on Amavasya of Aashadh month, the new moon day of Aashadh month (June-July).

Pahandi- Ceremonial Procession of Deities towards Rathas Chariots

Pahandi- Puri Rath YatraOn the day of Rath Yatra, the deities and the Celestial Wheel, the Sudarshan Chakra, are brought out of the temples following an elaborate ritual called Pahandi which means going forward step by step. All the three idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are held tightly by the arms by Daitapatis (they are the descendants of the tribal who are said to have taken care of Lord Jagannath in the jungles of Koraput before he came to the grand temple of Puri). The idols are pulled from behind and the front with the help of the ropes tied firmly to them. Millions of devotees who gather for the Rath yatra keep on beating the ghanta, kahali and telingi baja (musical instruments) through out the pahandi process. Lord Jagannath is carried to his chariot called Nandighosha. Lors Balabhadra is carried to his chariot Taladhwaja and Subhadra is carried to her chariot called Darpadalana. Pahandi is, in fact, a spectacular event which marks the beginning of Rath Yatra with great excitement filled in the environment of Puri.

Chherapanhara- Sweeping Chariot Floors with Golden Broom

When Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra settle in their respective chariots, the Gajapati, King of Puri, arrives in an elaborately decorated Palanquin and climbs the Chariots one by one for ceremonial sweeping of their floors with a golden broom. This ritual is called Chherapanhara.

Rath Yatra- Final Pulling of Chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra

Bahuda Rath Yatra PuriAfter all the elaborate ceremonies, begin the actual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath. Thousands of people who gather at Puri for Rath Yatra take turn in pulling the chariots of the deities. There is no discrimination on the grounds of caste, colour, sex or religion and everyone is allowed to pull the chariots of the three deities. The procession proceed towards the Gundicha Temple which is about two miles away from the main Jagannath temple of Puri from where the Rath Yatra begins. The processions reaches the Gundicha temple in the evening or late at night but the deities are taken inside the temple only next day following the Pahandi procedure. All the deities stay in Gundicha temple for the next seven days.

On Hera Panchami, the fifth day of Rath Yatra, yet another procession takes place which brings Goddess Lakshmi to meet Lord Jagannath. It is said that Lakshmi got angry on not being taken with the lord and went to the Gundicha temple to have a look at Her Lord. Before returning, she also damages a part of Lord Jagannath’s chariot in anger.

Bahuda Yatra – the Return Journey of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra

Puri Jagannath Rath YatraAfter staying at the Gundicha Temple for seven days, a return journey in procession is held when all the three deities start for their own temple. This procession is called Bahuda Yatra which is held nine days after the Rath Yatra. On the way back, the procession of Jagannath stops at the Mausi Maa (Maternal Aunt) Temple and have Poda Pitha. Poda Pitha, a traditional Oriya rice pancake is said to be the favorite sweet of Lord Jagannath.

Next day which is known as Bada Ekadasi, the Deities wear costumes of glittering gold known as ‘as Suna Vesha’ They are worshipped by thousands of devotees. On the next day of Ekadasi, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, GoddessSubhadra and Sudarshana Chakra return to the temple with the usual fanfare and in the Pahandi Style. Thus ends the Ratha Yatra, the grand festival of the Chariots.

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