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Puri Ratha Yatra

Courtesy: Google Images
Puri Ratha Yatra is popularly known as Car Festival. It is celebrated on Aashada Suddha Vidiya i.e on the 2nd day after Amavasya (moonless night) in the Hindu month of Aashaad. This is one of the most popular Hindu festivals that is celebrated with great fervor. On the festival day, the 3 huge wooden idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra Devi are taken in a procession in 3 colorfully decorated raths i.e cars.

Know more about Lord Jagannath of Puri.

Puri is small traditional temple town in the East coast of Odisha. It is one of the most important pilgrim centers of the Vaishnav sect. Puri is considered one of the important dhams i;e pilgrim places.

Ratha Yatra is celebrated annually in Puri and usually it falls in the month of June / July. On this auspicious day, huge wooden deities of Lord Jagannath along with the Divine Disc Sudarshana, Lord Balabhandra and Subhadra Devi are brought out from the Sanctum sanctorum in a ritualistic procession. These are placed in the respective rathas or chariots which are beautifully and colorfully decorated.  These chariots are pulled through the main road (bada danda / Grand Ave) of this small temple town in a huge procession by hundreds and thousands of devotees.

The chariots are taken to Gundicha temple which is around 2 miles from the main temple. The deities are kept in this temple for seven continuous days. The deities are brought back in a return procession known as Bahuda from Gundicha temple to the main temple or Srimandir of Lord Jagannath.

Lord Jagannath is believed to be one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Find here the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Each rath / car has its own specification and name. The ratha of Lord Jagannath is known as Nandighosh. It is 23 cubits high and has 18 wheels. The chariot is colorfully decorated and covered with bright yellow and red color clothes.

The chariot of Balabhadra is known as Taladhwaja. It is 22 cubits in height with 16 wheels. The chariot is brightly decorated and covered with green and red color clothes. While the chariot of Subhadra Devi is known as Devadalana. It is 21 cubits high with 14 wheels and is decorated with bright colors of red and black. 

Deodar Trees
Courtesy: Google Image
Each year the chariots are carved with fresh wood as per the religious requirements. The huge deities are made of Devadaru (deodar) wood and once in every 12 years, when there is Adhika Aashadam (an extra month of Aashadam in addition to the original Aashadam), the old wooden deities are replaced with the new ones. Such a replacement of new wooden idols takes place in festivity known as Nab Kalebara Jatra. In 2015, there was Adhika Aashadam and Nab Kalebara Jatra was celebrated.

The great event of Ratha Yatra at Puri is show live on Doordarshan and other private channels. Devotees of Lord Jagannath across the world can watch the event live. 

As this festival attracts a huge crowd and is celebrated in the rainy season, the tourists and visitors need to take extra health care.

Besides, the festival of Ratha Yatra, the small temple town of Puri has much tourist potential with its wonderful pristine beaches and the world famous World Heritage Site at  Konark Sun Temple.

Date of Ratha Yatra: June 25, 2017 (Sunday)

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