Rath Yatra


The concept of the chariot has been explained in the Kathopanishada in the following words-

Atmanam rathinam viddhi sareeram rathamevatu
Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi marah pragrahameva cha.

The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts.

Ratha Yatra, the Festival of Chariots of Lord Jagannatha is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Orissa, on the east coast of India. The Rath Yatra is also known as Car Festival. An annual festival commemorates the journey of Krishna from Gokul to Mathura. It also symbolizes a journey to light from the dark, which commences on the 2nd day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asadha (June/July). During the procession, the idols of lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and goddess Subhadra, the deities of the Sri Mandira, are taken out. The mammoth wooden chariots carrying the three deities pulled by thousands of devotees, present a spectacular scene. The three deities are given a ritual bath on the Snan Vedi (an open platform), almost a fortnight before the Rath Yatra. Three chariots are decorated and lined on the day before the procession. On the day of the procession, the priests take out the festooned idols to the chariots. The first deity to come out is lord Jagannath. After the ceremony, Gajapati (the ceremonial king of Puri) comes and expresses his humility before God. With a golden broom, he cleans the chariots and showers holy water on them. After that, the procession of three deities towards the Gundicha Temple starts. The yatra (journey) begins on the second day of the lunar month (asadha).The main chariot is 14 meters high and 10 meters square with 16 wheels. Thousands of devotees pull these chariots to Gundicha Mandir, a temple 3 km away. After a week, on 'Ashadha Sukla Dasami', the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Ashadha (June-July), return journey or 'Bahuda Yatra' of the deities commences in the same manner from Gundicha temple to the main temple like Rath Yatra. An atmosphere of almost hysterical devotion prevails on this day and in earlier years; devotees were known to have thrown themselves under the wheels of the rath in the hope of obtaining instant salvation.


Historical Significance of Rath Yatra

Ratha Yatra : Rituals and Celebrations







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