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The Chariot Festival or Rath Yatra is one of the most magnificent and oldest chariot festivals in the world. It is celebrated in honor of Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu worshipped in the state of Odisha. The grand procession takes place at the Jagannath Temple in Puri, this divine abode is of great importance in Hindu culture being a part of the Char Dham Yatra. Find here complete details about Jagannath Rath Yatra Puri :

Jagannath Rath Yatra Puri

History and Significance of Puri Ratha Yatra

Mythologies are interesting and varied. Every festival is a way of celebrating certain events that took place ages ago. There are several legends attached to the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra. The Rath Yatra is said to be an annual visit of the idols to their birthplace or Aunt’s place (Gundicha Temple). The doors of the Jagannath Temple are kept shut for a week after bathing the idols in 108 buckets of water as they recover from the seasonal fever. Another story depicts the festival as a commemoration of the day when Lord Krishna and Balram departed for Mathura sitting on a chariot sent by their maternal uncle Kansa to Gokul.

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When is Puri Rath Yatra Celebrated?

The festival is celebrated as per the Odia Calendar and the solar-lunar cycle. Every year on the second day of Shukla paksha or the waxing cycle of the moon of Ashada Masa (third month), the great festival of Chariot is initiated in the religious city of Puri. The festival goes on for more than a week- from dwitiya (second day) to dashmi (tenth day) of the month.

In 2021, the Rath Yatra will be started on 12th July and ends on 23th July.

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Where is Puri Rath Yatra Festival Celebrated?

The festival is celebrated at the majestic Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha. This temple is not only a pilgrim but a wonder in the world of architecture. The city of Puri is located 60 km away from Bhuvaneshwar, the capital of Odisha.   

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How is Puri Rath Yatra Festival Celebrated?

The preparation for the festival begins with the construction of three huge chariots for the divine siblings on the day of Akshaya Tritiya which will be on the 14th of May in 2021. Around 18 days prior to the beginning of the Rath Yatra, on the full moon of the month of Jyeshtha, the idols are bathed amid religious rituals with 108 buckets of water known as the Snana Yatra.  To get rid of the fever developed by deities after the bath they are kept inside the temple for a week. On the day of Navajouban Darshan, the three idols are brought to public view in new attires ready to start the journey.

Snana Yatra Jagannath
Snana Yatra

The zeal of devotees knows no bounds when the idols are taken out of the Jagannath Temple. Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are placed in the grand chariots and The Chariot Festival starts with millions of onlookers. The myriads of people who are bestowed with the opportunity to pull the sacred Rathas or Chariots of the deities are seen as blessed devotees. This spectacle is one of the most vibrant and energetic sights of the festival.

Chariot Pulling on Jagannath Rath Yatra
Chariot Pulling on Jagannath Rath Yatra

The idols travel to the Gundicha Temple and stay there for a week. Afterward, the Bahuda Yatra or the returning procession takes place and the deities return via the Mausi Maa Temple, the home of their aunt. Lord Jagannath and his siblings are offered Poda Pitha that is his favorite dessert. The idols are taken care of and adorned with elegant gold jewelry to be placed back in their abode, the Jagannath Temple.  

Important Rath Yatra Rituals – Dates and Time for 2021

1. Sri Gundicha – 12th July 2021

The idols will be transferred from the temple to the grand chariots. A number of rituals will be performed before and yatra will start at 4 pm. The chariot of Lord Balbhadra is moved first, then Goddess Subhadra, and then Lord Jagannath.

Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra

2. Hera Panchami- 16th July 2021

Goddess Laxmi becomes angry due to the absence of Lord Jagannath. She is carried in a covered litter to the temple of Gundicha to find out that Lord Jagannath went there without telling her.

Hera Panchami Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra

3. Bahuda Yatra – 20th July 2021

The idols get ready to return to their abode. The journey starts at 4 pm, after all the rituals are completed then the chariots are pulled in reverse order.

Bahuda Yatra Jagannath Rath Yatra

4. Suna Besha – 21st July 2021

Before placing back, the deities are adorned with jewels and treated with a drink. The ritual will go on from 5 pm to 11 pm.

Suna Besha Lord Jagannath

5. Niladri Bijaya – 23rd July 2021

The festival ends with idols being restored to their original location at the Jagannath Temple.

Fascinating Facts about Lord Jagannath

One popular myth is related to King Indrayumna of Puri. After the half cremation of Lord Krishna’s mortal body, his siblings were extremely grieved that they dived into the underwater city of Dwarka with his body. King Indrayumna dreamt of Krishna’s body resurfacing as a wooden log at a sea in Puri. Therefore, he decided to build a grand temple to place the idol of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra, and Balbhadra carved out of that wood.

The God of Architecture, Vishwakarma appeared in front of him as an old carpenter and put forward the condition of not being interrupted while carving the idols, if so he will disappear. After days of working when the carpenter did not come out, the King became curious and impatient. As soon as he opened the door, Lord Vishwakarma vanished and the idols of the siblings were left incomplete without any hands.

Don’t Miss the Grand Chariots of the Festival

The auspicious chariots are specially constructed every year by the carpenters who are chosen through hereditary to take up this blessing. The wood is specifically to be found and every detail is unique to the three chariots—Nandighosha (Jagannath), Taladhwaja (Balbhadra), and Darpadalana (Subhadra). There are nine Parsva devatas painted around each chariot. The canopy is huge and made of different color fabric for each chariot as prescribed. Just looking at these chariots standing on the Sinhadwara of the Jagannath Temple can bring divine ecstasy to the devotees witnessing the Rath Yatra.   

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