Ratha Yatra 2017
Reverberating with the chants of ‘Jay Jagannath’, millions of devotees will welcome and embrace Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath at Grand Road (Bada Danda) to begin their nine day sojourn to Shri Gundicha Temple to their aunt’s house in June 25.
The much awaited Rath yatra is held on Asadha Sukla Dwitiya i.e. the second day of bright fortnight of Asadha (June-July) every year. Accompanied by spiritual chants and conches the wooden idols of the three deities are brought out of the 12th century shrine and placed in their respective Rathas (chariots), kept near the Singha Dwara (Lions Gate). The deities are carried to the chariots in a traditional ceremonial manner called ‘Pahandi’ when Lord Balabhadra and Lord Jagannath are made to swing forward and backward. At first Sudarsana comes out followed by Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra and finally Lord Jagannath.
Lord Jagannath’s Chariot is called Nandighosa, the Chariot of Lord Balabhadra, called the Taladhwaja and the Chariot of Subhadra, known as Darpadalana. The deities are brought out of the temple in a traditional ceremonial manner-first Sudarshana, followed by Balabhadra, Subhadra and Jagannath. Balabhadra and Jagannath are made to swing forward and backward in a manner called ‘Pahandi’ and placed over their respective chariots kept near the Singhadwar and decorated colourfully as per tradition followed for centuries.
The Rath Yatra begins after ‘Chhera Pahara’ the most famous ritual where the Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb of Puri, respected as the living incarnation of the lord sweeps the chariot with a gold-plated broomstick and sprinkles sandalwood water and performs other necessary rituals.
Devotees and tourists irrespective of caste, creed, sect, and religion from across the globe throng Puri not just to get a glimpse of the deities on the chariot but also to pull the chariots by the ropes and move them to Sri Gundicha Temple. Each and every ritual holds significance. The three generously decorated chariots are dragged by the devotes to the Gundicha Temple from the main Temple along the Bada danda and on the ninth day of this festival, the deities are brought back from the Gundicha Temple to the Singha dwara of the main temple on the same chariots known as ‘Bahuda Yatra.’ 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 festival is Suna Bhesha. On the 11th day of the bright Asadha, the deities are adorned with gold ornaments and dressed gorgeously in their respective chariots parked in the Singha dwara area. This besha of Suna Besha, also known as Raja or Rajadhiraja bhesha or Raja Bhesha the Lord Jagannath, 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.
On the following day i.e. on Dwadasi tithi, an important ritual called Adhara niti is performed when the Adharapana bhoga is offered to the deities. It is a sweet drink offered to the deities. On the evening of Asadha Sukla Chaturdasi tithi i.e. 14th day of bright Asadha, the deities are taken into the Temple in a traditional procession called Pahandi amidst gathering of thousands of devotees. While entering into the Temple, a feign quarrel takes place between Goddess Laksmi and Jagannath. Finally, Devi Lakshmi is pacified and Jagannath enters into the Temple.