Updated: Jul 15, 2021
Rath Yatra is a Hindu festivity associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha. This yearly occasion is among the oldest Yath Ratras taking place in India, and abroad. On this auspicious day, all 3 idols of Lord Jagannath along with his siblings (Goddess Subhadra & Lord Balabadhra) are beautifully decorated and brought to cover a 3-km long journey, from Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple in chariots drawn over manually by hundreds of devotees each year. This piece of article aims to highlight the most interesting facts ever about the yearly procession of Puri Rath Yatra!
Did You Know?
People believe there are various stories associated with this Hindu festival, with one of them being that Lord Jagannath wishes to visit his birthplace every year, and hence all the devotees make their best efforts to make this happen! Celebrations for this amazing festival last for over 9 days.
Until last year, thousands of people used to gather to witness the supreme phenomena, but like last year, the Supreme Court only allowed 500 people to pull one chariot with everyone present undergoing a mandatory COVID-19 test prior. Alas! This global pandemic has turned the tables worldwide.
Moving forward, one should also know that the Jagannath Yath Ratra symbolises the journey of Shri Krishna from Dwarka (a kingdom that he ruled) to Braj- Bhoomi (present-day Mathura & Vrindavan), a place where he grew up.
Now, here are some extremely astounding facts about the ultimate Puri Rath Yatra that might blow your mind. Intriguing, right? Have a look here:
The three giant wooden chariots used in this annual yath ratra are made with a special kind of Neem tree each year, which means no chariot is repeated once after being used in the event. These chariots are dismantled after each year’s procession, the wood is then used in Jagannath temple’s kitchen to cook ‘Kotha Bhoga’.
Puri’s Yath Ratra, an event widely renowned around the world, also holds a surprisingly amazing mention in various ancient scriptures including Padma Purana, Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana, and more.
Did you know Lord Jagannath’s Rath, Nandighosha (also known as Garudadhwaja, Kapiladhwaja) is about 44 feet tall? The chariot has 16 wheels, and the colours used for that are red and yellow. Balbhadra’s chariot is called Taladhwaja, standing tall at almost 43 feet. It has 14 wheels, and the colours used for decorating it are red and bluish-green. Meanwhile, Subhadra’s chariot has 12 wheels, and the colours associated with her chariot are red and black. It is known as Darpadalana (Devadalana or Padmadhwaja) and stands 42 feet in height.
The Ritual of bringing the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra out of the Puri temple and installing them in their respective chariots is called Pahandi. The King (also known as the Gajapati), dresses like a sweeper and cleans the road with a golden-handled broom and water scented with sandalwood paste. This ritual is called the Chera Pahara. It is repeated on the last day of the Yatra as well.
Before the Rath Yatra begins, all 3 idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are bathed with 108 buckets of water, this event is also known as Snana Purnima. Following this, all the idols are placed in isolation till the day of procession believing they are ill. This event is also known as Ansara.
The concluding rituals of the Rath Yatra called Suna Besha, and Adhara Pana are conducted on the tenth and eleventh day, respectively. Suna Besha is a ritual when the Gods are decorated with gold ornaments. Last year, ornaments weighing about 200 kilos were worn by the deities. And the Adhara Pana is the sweet offerings made to the gods, after which they are taken around the city in a rath.
The auspicious event of Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is celebrated yearly with millions of devotees that come across from India and abroad seeking the blessing of the almighty. It makes the atmosphere over there so pious and pure at the same time. We hope these amazingly astonishing facts about this event were able to create a positive impact on your minds. Check this space for more interesting updates and blogs in the future. Stay tuned!!