Jagannath Rath Yatra
Jagannath Rath Yatra is a very significant festival for Hindus which is organised every year at the Jagannath temple Puri. This Rath Yatra is commemorated with colossal zest and liveliness at Puri in Orissa. The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is commemorated on the 2nd day (Dwitiya) during the Shukla Paksha of the Ashada month. This year Jagannath Rath Yatra is on 23rd June 2020 (Tuesday)
This festival marks the annual visit of Lord Jagannath to the renowned Gundicha Mata temple. This is a very renowned festival all across the globe, as people from different parts of the world turn up to witness the Rath Yatra. In the Ratha Yatra, chariots are pulled which consists of a race in which chariots are pulled. It is believed that one day before the Ratha Yatra, the Gundicha temple is washed by the devotees and this ritual is called as, Gundicha Marjana. This yatra is celebrated usually in the months of June or July.
The word ‘Jagannath’ exemplifies the Lord of the Universe, and Lord Jagannath is contemplated as a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Jagannath is worshipped and reverenced at the famous Jagannath temple of Puri in Odisha. Moreover, the Jagannath temple is considered as one of the Char Dham pilgrimages, and for a Hindu it is believed to visit once in his/her lifetime. In the Puri Ratha Yatra, Lord Jagannath’s brother and sister namely Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra respectively are also worshipped. During this festival, all the three deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra are worshipped in the Jagannath temple, and they are taken out in their respective chariots on the streets of Puri. Every year this chariot festival attracts tourists, pilgrims and devotees not only from India but from all across the world. This festival marks the annual visit of Lord Jagannath to the renowned Gundicha Mata temple.
If we ponder over the legend of Jagannath Rath Yatra, then according to the Hindu scriptures, once queens of Lord Krishna urged mother Rohini to unfold the various Ras Lilas of Lord Krishna with the Gopis. Rohini, before narrating the confidential tales of Lord Krishna sent Subhadra at the door not allowing anyone to enter. Then, after sometime Krishna and Balram came there and stood at the door standing on the right and left sides of Subhadra. They started to listen the narrations of mother Rohini about Lord Krishna’s childhood stories. While they were absorbed in the stories, Narad arrived. On witnessing the three siblings together, Narad asked all the three deities to grant him the divine manifestation in the same posture. The request of Narad was fulfilled and he witnessed the divine manifestation of all the three deities, and hence all three reside in the Jagannath temple Puri.
Rituals During Rath Yatra
Pahandi: It is a ritual in which the deities are taken to the Chariot from the Jagannath temple for their journey towards Gundicha Temple. Gundicha is considered to be a true devotee of Lord Krishna, and all the three deities visit her to respect her devotion towards Lord Krishna. The idol of Balabhadra is taken out first, followed by the idol of Subhadra and at last the idol of Jagannath.
Chhera Pahara: It is one of the most significant rituals performed on the first day of the journey. This ritual envisages that everyone is equal in the eyes of the deities. In order to perform this ritual, the Gajapati King wears the uniform of a sweeper and cleans the area around the deities and chariots with a gold-handled broom, sandalwood water with immense devotion. This ritual is performed for two days, the first time when the deities are taken to the Gundicha temple and the second time when the deities return to the Jagannath temple. When all the three deities arrive the Gundicha temple, then they are given a ceremonial bath and are dressed in boirani cloth. The fourth day is celebrated as Hera Panchami marked by the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi in search of Lord Jagannath.
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is dedicated to Lord Jagannath who is considered as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Being one of the chief pilgrimages of Hindus, the Jagannath temple holds utmost religious significance. On the occasion of Puri Ratha Yatra, devotees are allowed to have a sight of the deities. The Rath Yatra in Puri attracts tourists and pilgrims from all the corners of the world. Among the foreign visitors, this Rath Yatra is known by the name of Puri Car Festival. It is believed that if a person participates with full devotion in the Rath Yatra would get free from the cycle of birth and death. Having a mere sight of Lord Jagannath on his chariot is considered very auspicious, and every year these chariots are designed from a special kind of wood according to the religious specifications. The idols of the deities are also made of wood and are replaced in every 12 years. The festival of Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is a symbol of equality, as it is above all forms of discriminations
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