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iXiGOers Jun 21 2013

What are the details of Rath Yatra in Puri?

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Tucked in the eastern seacoast of India, Puri is a seaside town, better known for the 12th century temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath. The auspicious festival of Ratha Yatra (Chariot festival) in Puri is as famous as the Jagannath temple. This festival is also referred to as Gundicha Jatra, Navadina Jatra, Ghosa Jatra or Dasavatara Jatra. The three giant chariots rolling down the Bada Danda of Puri, pulled by a sea of people, is a spectacle you won’t forget. The mammoth crowd tugs at the ropes tied to the axles of the towering chariots amidst chants and cries of ‘Jai Jagannath’.

  

When is the Ratha Yatra festival celebrated

The Ratha Yatra festival falls every year, on the day of Asadh Shukla Dwititya (falling in June-July). This year it starts on 10 July 2013. During the festival, the three idols leave the temple for a 5 km chariot ride along the Bada Danda or Grand Avenue to their aunt’s home (Gundicha Temple) where they stay for the next seven days.

Progression of Ratha Yatra Festival

The first day of the festival is marked with numerous rites and rituals of which the most famous is the pahandi and the chhenrapahara. The pahandi consists of unfastening the idols from the pedestal, lifting them and carrying them all theway to the chariot. The idols are heavy and it is not easy to carry them through the surging crowd, pushing ahead to touch the idol and maybe break a piece of the floral headgear as a holy memento. After the idols are seated on the chariots, the ruler of Puri comes and sweeps the chariot with a golden broom. Known as chhenrapahara it is a lesson in humility – everyone is equal before the Lord.


  


Rath Yatra
is a special day for both the god and the pilgrims. The first to roll out is the Taladhvaja, draped in red and green, housing big brother Lord Balabhadra. Sister Subhadra starts next, seated in her red and black chariot, Darpadalan. But the excitement peaks when it is time to pull the chariot Nandighosa belonging to Lord Jagannath. Draped in red and gold, the chariot, 13 m high and with 18 wheels, is the star of the show. It is this grand spectacle that gave the word ‘juggernaut’ (meaning huge) to the English lexicon.

Interestingly, while all rites and rituals observed daily in the temple are conducted by Brahmin priests, all the rites and rituals associated with the Ratha Yatra are conducted by a special group of attendants called daitapatis, descendants of the tribal king Biswabasu. There are many legends associated with the cult of Jagannath and the unfinished form the idols (they do not have limbs).

On the ninth day of the festival, the idols return to the main temple (Bahuda Yatra) and remain in the chariot for one more night. The sunabesh or adorning with gold ornaments is held on the tenth day. The next day, the idols return to the temple probably as tired and happy as the pilgrims.



Pilgrims and visitors start arriving the day before the festival and the town is swamped by a sea of people. There is a good number of foreign visitors and media people too. The chariots  built anew every year by the same family of craftspeople are lined up in front the temple the day before. Rooftops around the temple and makeshift galleries now sell tickets to visitors for a better view of the happenings. Otherwise, one can mingle with the crowd.

During the entire week of the Rath Yatra, the deities are daily dressed in new attires and served with poda pitha or rice cakes. Even a glimpse of Lord Jagannath on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious. Almost 4000 people gather to draw each chariot.


Great information here , thanks
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