Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Rath Yatra in Puri


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rath Yatra

Mains level: Not Much

rath yatra puri

Central Idea

  • The Rath Yatra (Chariot Procession), a grand festival held in Puri, Odisha, attracts millions of visitors from around the world.
  • This article explores the significance and key elements of the Rath Yatra Festival.

What is Rath Yatra?

rath yatra puri

  • Divine pilgrimage: According to mythology, Lord Jagannath embarks on a nine-day sojourn along with his siblings to his birthplace, the Gundicha Temple.
  • The idols’ stay: The deities, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra, reside at the Gundicha Temple until the “Bahuda Yatra” (returning car festival) on June 28.
  • Procession: The Rath Yatra takes place on the second day of the Odia month of Ashadha Shukla Tithi. It involves a procession of the deities from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple.

Key attractions

  • Decorated chariots: The three enormous chariots, Taladhwaja Rath for Lord Balabhadra, Darpadalan Rath for Goddess Subhadra, and Nandighosa Rath for Lord Jagannath, are crafted with specific colors, dimensions, wooden horses, guardian deities, and charioteers. Skilled artisans use traditional techniques to build these chariots.
  • Chhera Panhara Ritual: Before the chariots are pulled, the scion of the erstwhile Puri royal family performs the Chhera Panhara ritual. The king sweeps the chariot floors with a golden broom, emphasizing the dignity of labor and equality before the Lord.
  • Present pulling: Puri’s (ceremonial) king, Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb, has been performing the Chhera Panhara ritual since 1971, highlighting the long-standing tradition.

Significance of the festival

  • Devotee participation: The Rath Yatra draws a massive crowd, including foreigners, who flock to witness the grand spectacle.
  • Touching the chariot ropes: Devotees strive to touch the ropes of the chariots, as it is believed that the Lord bestows blessings upon those who participate in pulling the chariots.

Return Festival: Bahuda Yatra and Suna Besha

  • Bahuda Yatra: The return festival takes place on Ashadha Shukla Dasami. The deities are offered a special cake called “Poda Pitha” at the Mausimaa Temple before their journey back to the Jagannath Temple.
  • Suna Besha: Following the Bahuda Yatra, the deities are adorned with gold ornaments during the Suna Besha ceremony. Devotees flock to witness this spectacle, where the lords are beautifully decorated with gold.
  • Homecoming: Niladri Bije marks the end of the Rath Yatra and symbolizes the homecoming of the deities to the Jagannath Temple.
  • Offering to Goddess Laxmi: Devotees offer Rasagola, a sweet dish made of cheese, to appease Goddess Laxmi on behalf of Lord Jagannath. This ritual seeks to pacify the goddess, who is believed to be upset for not being taken on the chariots.

Also read:

Places in news: Jagannath Puri Temple

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