Rath Yatra Festival Puri

Puri Rath Yatra is a large scale Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath, held in Puri, during June/July every year. The festival that lasts for nine days, celebrates Lord Jagannath's annual visit to Gundicha Mata's Temple via his aunt's house (Mausi Maa Temple, near Balagandi Chaka in Puri).

Puri Rath Yatra Route Map

Puri Rath Yatra Route Map
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The Chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their Sister Subhadra are taken out in a procession on the main street of Puri known as Bada Danda or Grand Avenue to Gundicha Temple near about 3 Km away and remain there for nine days. As per tradition, Lord Jagannath and His siblings during the chariot ride take a stop at the Mausima Temple on the Grand Avenue and taste the famous Podapitha baked by their aunt. After nine days the Puri Rath Yatra returns to Puri Jagannath temple from Gundicha temple. The return journey is known as Bahuda Yatra.

During the festival three highly adorned chariots, resembling temple structures are pulled through the streets of Puri; commemorating the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama and their sister Subhadra to their aunt's temple, the Gundicha Temple, situated at a distance of 2 km from their temple. New chariots are built every year and this is the only time that non Hindus who are otherwise not allowed in the temple, get a glimpse of the deities.

During the festival, devotees from all aross the world go to Puri with the earnest desire to help pull the Lord's chariot, which is 45 meters high, with the help pf the priests. The large procession that accompanies the chariots, sing devotional songs and play drums and trumpets

On their way back from the Gundicha Temple the deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple where they are offered Poda Pitha, a special kind of pancake that was supposed to be the Lord's favourite. After staying there for seven days, the deities return to their abode.

The Rath Yatra is celebrated every year in Puri on the second day of the waxing cycle of the moon of Ashadh Maas (3rd month in Lunar Calendar). A glimpse of Lord Jagannath in the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and poets, saints and scriptures have repeatedly pointed this out.

The three chariots of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra are built out of wood from specified trees Phassi, Dausa etc and are customarily brought from the former princely state of Dasapalla by a specialized team of carpenters who have hereditary rights for the same. The logs are traditionally set afloat as rafts in the river Mahanadi and then collected from near Puri and then transported by road.

The three chariots are adorned by the exclusive scheme prescribed and followed for centuries stand on the Baba Danda (the grand avenue). The old chariots are broken down to be used either in the kitchen or are sold to devotees as souvenirs. There are also stories of pilgrims who throw themselves before the chariots, in the belief that death under the chariot wheels will grant them eternal peace. It is also believed that those who can catch a glimpse of all three chariots moving in the south direction will be granted salvation.

Jagannath Puri Dham is one of the four main Dhams in India and is considered a very important pilgrimage destination for Hindus and though Puri has many visitors at any given time of the year, it is during the Puri Rath Yatra that the town is spilling over with people.

Last Updated on : 21 June 2012



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