Rath Yatra: The festival of Chariots!
The Rath Yatra of Puri in Odisha is a festival celebrated in sheer magnificence. Mass participation, legends associated with it, religious zeal and its grandeur makes the Rath Yatra stand apart from the other festivals. It is one of the major Hindu festivals associated with Lord Jagannath and is held in Puri for 9 days either in the month of June/ July, also known as the month of Ashadha in Odia calendar.
The Rath Yatra is world famous and attracts more than a million pilgrims to Odisha every year, not only from India but all around the world. Rath Yatra, also known as the Chariot Festival is the time when devotees can get a chance to see the deities without any hassle. The festival is a symbol of equality and integration.
Lord Jagannath along with his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra are always worshipped within the temple. It is during the festival that they are taken to the streets of Grand road, Puri so that even the less fortunate ones have a chance to seek their blessings. The 3 deities make an annual journey to the Gundicha temple, 3 kms away from Lord Jagannath’s Temple.
The festival begins with the invoking ceremony in the morning. The chariot parade in the afternoon is the most exciting part of the festival. The 3 deities have different chariots, which are uniquely built for them. The chariot of Lord Jagannath is known as Nandighosa, has 18 wheels and is about 45.6 ft high. The chariot of Lord Balabhadra is Taladhwaja, has 16 wheels and is 45 feet high. The chariot of Devi Subhadra is Devadalana, has 14 wheels and is 44.6 ft high. Every year these temple like chariots are newly and uniquely constructed. The idols of these three deities are made of wood and are religiously replaced by new ones every 12 years on the occasion of Nabakalebara.
If you happen to be in Puri, Odisha on 6th July 2016, make sure you witness this live. It will definitely leave you awestruck!