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Puri Ratha Yatra - The Car Festival 2022

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Courtesy: Google Images

The Ratha Yatra of Puri is popularly known as Car Festival. It is celebrated on Suddha Vidiya day 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 devotion.

The main wooden deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken in a grand procession in three different colorful wooden raths (chariots) that are beautifully decorated.

About the temple town Puri

Puri is a small traditional temple town in the East coast of Odisha. It is one of the most important pilgrim centres of the Vaishnav sect. The place is considered as one of the char dhams (holy pilgrim places). Puri gained importance due to Purushothama Jagannatha temple built by Chodaganga Deva. The place was earlier known as Purushottama Kshetra and eventually came to known a Purushottama Puri.

How to reach
By air: Biju Pattanaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar, the state capital, is the nearest airport.
By rail: Puri is a terminal station on the East Coast Railway. It is connect with all major cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Tirupati etc.
By road: There are OSRTC (Odisha State Road Transport Corporation) bus as well as private buses from the bus station near Gundicha temple. The buses ply frequently.

About Jagannath temple

Jagannath temple dates back to 12th century CE (Common Era). It is one of the chardhams and hence is heavily crowded with devotees round the year. The colorfully and artistically sculpted huge wooden idols of Jagannath, His elder brother Balabhadra and Subhadra Devi are seated on an elevated platform (mandap) inside the grabha griha.

The uniqueness of the temple is that unlike the main deities in most of the Hindu temples, the main deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra Devi in this temple are made of wood of Deodar tree.

Also Read: Significance of Aashada

Ratha Yatra - the Car Festival

Ratha Yatra is the most important festival celebrated in Puri. The festival also became world famous and is celebrated in Jagannath temples across the country and abroad as well.

Ratha Yatra is celebrated on Vidiya (second) day after amavasya (moonless night) in the Hindu month of Ashad which mostly falls in July. On this day the 3 huge wooden deities along with the Divine Disc Sudarshana are taken out from the Sanctum sanctorum in a ritualistic procession and are placed in the respective rathas i.e. chariots. The wooden rathas are beautifully decorated in different specified colors. Each rath / car has its own specification and name.

Nandighosh - the Ratha of Jagannath

The ratha of Jagannath is known as Nandighosh. It is 23 cubits in height and has 18 wheels. The chariot is colorfully decorated and covered with bright yellow and red color clothes.

Taladhwaja - the Ratha of Balabhadra

Taladhwaja is the chariot of Balabhadra. It is 22 cubits in height and has 16 wheels. The chariot is brightly decorated and covered with green and red color clothes.

Devadalana - the Chariot of Subhadra Devi

The ratha of Subhadra Devi is known as Devadalana. It is 21 cubits high and has 14 wheels. The chariot is decorated with bright colors of red and black.

Also Read: Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha

On Jyestha Purnima day (full moon day) i.e. around 15 days before the festival date, the 3 wooden idols are brought from the sanctum sanctorum and placed on a big platform in the temple premises which is close to Ananda Bazaar, the market where bhogo (food offered to Jagannath) is sold to devotees. These idols are given a celestial shower (snaan i.e. bath) on this pendal and then the idol are decorated / get ready for Ratha Yatra. On Ratha Yatra day the main idols are placed in the chariots and are then pulled by thousands of devotees through the main road (bada danda / Grand Ave) of the town in a huge procession.

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 an incarnations of Krishna / Lord Vishnu.
Deodar Trees, Credit: Google Images

Additional Info

  • Each year the chariots are carved with fresh wood as per the religious requirements.
  • The huge deities are made of Devadaru (deodar) wood.
  • Once in every 12 years, when there is Adhika Aashadam (an extra month of Aashad 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 showed live on Doordarshan and other private channels. Devotees of Lord Jagannath across the world can watch the event live.
  • Ratha Yatra 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.

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