¤ Rath Yatra Festival
Orrisa comes alive in the month of June and July because this is the
time when the famous Jagannath Rath Yatra takes place in Puri. People
from all across Orrisa and from various parts of India come to take
part in this auspicious occasion. Orrisa witnesses the inflow of about
7 to 10 lakhs of pilgrims during this Car Festival. Foreigners also
enthusiastically participate in the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra.
The Car Festival remains one of the world's most unbelievable
spectacles in terms of grandeur and enthusiastic devotion.
¤ The Significence
The massive procession begins at Jagdish temple in Jamalpur. The main
chariots are dedicated to Lord Krishna, his brother Balaram and sister
Subadhra, followed by resplendently decorated elephants, pilgrims on
foot, acrobats and gymnasts. The significance of this procession is
that Lord Jagannath, his brother and sister makes a visit at the
garden house, Gundecha Ghar, for five days, also visiting his aunt on
the way. At the end of the five days, the three siblings are brought
back to the Jagannath temple in a procession called the Ultarath.
¤ Rath Yatra - The Holy Procession
The deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, are enshrined in
the Jagannath Temple at Puri, they are accompanied with a huge
procession for 21 days cruise in beautiful, decorated boats on
On the full moon day of Jyestha (June), the Snanajatra or the bathing
festival is observed, the deities are given a holy bath according to
religious rites. After the bathing ritual the three deities are
confined to a solitary abode for a fortnight where they undergo
ayruvedic healing. They are offered special ayurvedic medicine -
'boli' and a liquid food called 'sarapana'. The deities spend 15 days
in seclusion during which period they are repainted and prepared for
the Car Festival.
After their stay the deities are taken on a journey of around 3 km in
huge decorated chariots to pay a visit at the Gundicha Ghar. Huge
chariots are pulled by thousands of devotees, irrespective of
religion, caste or creed to achieve the path of divine life.The
Gajapati Maharaja cleans the chariots with a golden broom to proclaim
that he is the first of the Lord's servants and on this particular day
he performs the duty of a scavenger to demonstrate socialism in action
and the dignity of labors.
¤ The Massive Chariot
The chariot of Lord Jagannath, known as 'Nandighose' is 23 cubits
high and has 18 wheels. The chariot of Balabhadra which is 22 cubits
in height and has 16 wheels is named 'Taladwaja'. 'Devadalan', the
chariot of Subhadra is 21 cubits in height and has 14 wheels. The
specialty of these chariots is, that they are constructed a new every
year in accordance with strict and ancient prescription and
The chariots are pulled by several thousand devotees at a time. The
relation between temple and chariot form is delightful. The chariots
in which the images of the deities in the Jagannath temple are pulled
through the streets actually resemble moveable temples. In fact, these
are designed keeping in view the features of the Bhaskaresvara Temple
in Bhubaneswar, which resembles a chariot.
¤ Re-creation of Deities
According to Hindu calendar once in every 12 years, the deities cast
off their old frames and forms into new idols. The process of renewal
of the body known as Nava Kalebara (literally 'new idealization'), is
one of most auspicious occasion of the festival. Performed by
distinguished temple priests, each of whom knows only his own part of
the ritual, the process includes selection and felling of the tree,
carving and painting of the new images, and transmitting of the divine
essence from the old to the new frame.
This festival remains one of the most amazing and exhilarating events
most of us are ever likely to witness.