Festivals in India has varied colours with the lots of attraction and divine meaning. Hardly any country in the world celebrates as many festivals as this great country. It won't by any exaggeration in stating that almost all the 365 days in a year are a medium or a source of some merrymaking. Be it religious, social, and familial, all events are admired with much gaiety.
Most of the grand religious events in India have an association with Hindu tradition and customs. People who believe in the existence of Gods and who have the knowledge about epics claim that there are millions of forms of the creator. So mammoth and staunch are their belief and admiration of Hindus that the festivals celebrated by them have attracted the attention of the world. And one of the grand event that millions of Indians and the world awaits for is the Rath Yatra. This festival is perhaps the largest of all where one can see a huge sea of devotion. It is organized in Puri, a small coastal town in Orissa in the midsummer during the full moon day which comes in Jestha month.
Rath Yatra in itself is a journey of life. It's the belief in God and tradition that thousands of devotees assemble in Puri to escort their gods on a vacation. Hindus believe that their favourite deities Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subahdra who are siblings goes for a vacation to their aunt's place. To escort them, devotees construct three separate huge chariots and decorate them elaborately. Each chariot adorns the look and feel of the temple in which they are placed. They are pulled by thousands of devotees from the temple to the Gundicha Mata Temple, two kilometers from the starting point of the procession. For Hindus in Orissa and all over the world, this festival is a grand celebration and sunk in the sea of devotion and reverence.
Significance of Rath Yatra
Lord Jagannath who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is the god of the Puri. There are three separate temples built each for Lord Jagannath, Lord Balahadra, elder brother of Jagannath, and sister Subhadra. As god is leaving their abode for a certain day, nine days precisely, devotees carry them in chariots will lots of glitters and grandeur. The return journey from the vacation is known as Bahuda Yatra.
The gathering of devotees in thousands, the fanfare and the pulling of the huge chariots is a thrilling and an exciting experience. All the major Indian channel and other overseas channel broadcast this grand event live.
Rath Yatra Celebration
Three different chariots each for one deity are built in advance for the ceremony. No old or previously used chariot is utilized for the event. Attention is paid in selecting wood of specific trees to construct it. A team of skilled carpenters from the Jagannath Puri Temple Trust visit Dasappalla which was a princely state in her heydays. These carpenters are not just any artisan. The rights and privileges are offered to only chosen ones and are passed over from one generation to the next. A special day is chosen to start the constructing work. Usually, it is the third day of Vaisakha. A ritual is also performed to consecrate the chariots.
All the three transportation sources are constructed under strict guidelines and observation. The set pattern of construction has been followed for centuries. Each of them is covered with bright canopies and are replicas of the temple in which the idols are kept. The colour and stripes on the cloth and the flag to be mounted at the top are also carefully chosen.
The huge chariot in which is ridden by Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosa. The height of the chariot is 45 ft. Its shape from the wheelbase is in the square and consists of equal diameter. All the sixteen wheels are about 7 ft. in diameter. They are covered with red and yellow cloths. The yellow strips on the canopy is the identification of Lord Jagannath's chariot.
Lord Balarama rides a 14-wheel chariot. The diameter of the wheel is of the exact dimension of Lord Jagannath's. It is called Taladhwaja and the flat on the top has a palm tree. The wheels are covered with red and blue cloth and the total height is 44 ft.
Sister Subhadra's chariot is called Dwarpadalana. Its height is 43 ft. and has 12 wheels with the same 7 ft. diameter. The wheels are decked with red and black cloth. All the chariots are decorated with flower umbrellas, and decorative ancient pieces to give a dazzling look. Before the journey starts, the temple priests offer prayers and chant mantras to all deities. Devotional songs, drum beats, and dancing goes on till the end of the journey.
Rath Yatra of Puri, Orissa is a grand festival that is witnessed by several thousands Indians and foreigners each year. This festival is the major attraction of millions visiting this city.
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