Festival of Chariots in Puri

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Legends says, “Rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate” – “Simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement for stopping the repetition of birth and death” this is what attracts countless devotees from across the globe to the Land of Jagannath, Puri in Odisha. The annual event is perhaps the biggest assemble of people in the world for any single event.

The gathering of countless devotees in the Grand Road is just an unforgettable sight and shows the enthusiasm of people. The Rath Yatra communicates a message of secularism. It is reinforced by the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutum-bakam (The World Is My Family) flowing from the name Jagannath, which means Lord of the Universe.

Rath yatra is the festival that honours the Lord Jagannath’s visit along with his siblings to the temple of Queen Gundicha. The festival is a symbolic humanization of God and an attempt to bring God down from his pedestal of glory to a more human level.

The newly constructed chariots are decorated as per the unique scheme followed for centuries stand on the Bada Danda. Lord Jagannatha’s Chariot is called Nandighosa, the Chariot of Lord Balabhadra, called the Taladhwaja and the Chariot of Subhadra, known as Darpadalana, are lined across in front of the temple close to its eastern entrance, also known as the Sinhadwara or the Lion’s Gate.

As per the rituals and traditions, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb of Puri, revered as the living incarnation of the lord occupies centre stage at the Chariot Festival or Rath Yatra. Despite being a King, Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb conducts the Chhera Pahanra (sweeping of the chariot floor) with a gold-plated broomstick and performs other necessary rituals.

The act of pulling the Chariots by the ropes during Rath Yatra in Puri is an extremely religious act, the belief which attracts millions of tourists and devotees from all over the world.

The caravan of Lord Jagannath and his siblings is taken by the devotees to Gundicha Temple. After spending a week inside the Gundicha temple, the deities commence their Bahuda Yatra on the 10th day. The returning journey is even more magnificent. On their way back to the Temple, the deities stop at their aunt’s house. Here they are offered traditional cake ‘Poda Pitha’.

One of the important rituals of Rath Yatra is Suna Bhesha, also known as Raja or Rajadhiraja Bhesha or Raja Bhesha. During this event the Lord Jagannath and other deities Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are adorned with gold jewellery. Countless devotees throng Puri just to have a glimpse of the deities in Suna Besha on chariots.

If you are in Puri, Odisha on 6th July 2016, make sure you witness one of the world’s biggest festival live. It will definitely leave you mesmerized! Book Rath Yatra special tour package now with Sand Pebbles Tours and Travels to witness India’s oldest, biggest and most visited Rath Yatra in the world.