Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024
Rath Yatra 2022

Rath Yatra 2022

Introduction

Ratha Yatra 2022, also known as the Chariot festival, is a public procession where a chariot is pulled through the streets. The most famous Ratha Yatra takes place annually in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and other states in East India. This festival is associated with Lord Jagannath (an avatar of Lord Vishnu), along with his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra, and his weapon, the Sudarshana Chakra. During the procession, these deities are placed on a wooden chariot called a ratha.

Ratha Yatra processions have been a part of Hindu traditions in various regions of India, particularly those related to Lord Vishnu (Jagannath, Rama, and Krishna), Lord Shiva, and different saints and goddesses. They are also observed in Nepal with Tirthankaras in Jainism and in tribal folk religions of the eastern Indian states.

In addition to India, Ratha Yatra celebrations are held by Hindu communities in other countries, like Singapore. These celebrations are associated with deities such as Jagannath, Krishna, Shiva, and Mariamman.

While the Ratha Yatra has religious significance, it is also a community event that holds cultural and social importance for the organisers and participants. It is a time for people to come together, share in the festivities, and express their devotion.

Interestingly, the English word “juggernaut” originates from the Western impression of the Jagannath Ratha Yatra in Puri, which was seen as an unstoppable force during the procession.

Jagannath Ratha Yatra, Puri

During the Jagannath Ratha Yatra, the deities are usually worshipped inside the temple in Puri. However, once a year, usually during the rainy season in Odisha (June or July), they are taken out onto the main street of Puri called Bada Danda. They travel a distance of 3 kilometres to the Shri Gundicha Temple in huge chariots, allowing the public to see them, which is why it’s called Ratha Yatra, or the chariot journey.

The chariots, known as Rathas, are massive wooden structures that are newly built each year. Devotees pull these chariots during the procession. The chariot for Lord Jagannath is about 45 feet tall and 35 feet wide. Skilled artists and painters from Puri decorate the chariots, painting flower petals and other designs on the wheels, the wooden charioteer and horses, and the wall behind the throne.

One significant ritual during the Ratha Yatra is the chhera pahara. The Gajapati King, considered the highest authority in the Kalingan kingdom, dresses as a sweeper and cleans the area around the deities and chariots. The king uses a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion. This ritual symbolizes that under the lordship of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful king and the humblest devotee.

Chera pahara takes place on two days: the first day of the Ratha Yatra, when the deities are taken to the Mausi Maa Temple garden house, and the last day of the festival, when the deities are ceremoniously brought back to the Shri Mandir (main temple). Another ritual called Pahandi Vijay takes place when the deities are taken from the main temple to the chariots.

During the Ratha Yatra, the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days. Then, they are taken back to the Shri Mandir in the bahuda jatra, or return journey. On the way back, the chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple, and the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a type of baked cake popular in Odisha.

The observance of Jagannath Ratha Yatra dates back to ancient times, as described in various Puranas (sacred texts). Even during the Moghul period, the Ratha Yatra was organized by kings like Ramsingh of Jaipur. In Odisha, the kings of Mayurbhanj and Parlakhemundi also organized the festival, but the grandest and most popular Ratha Yatra takes place in Puri.

The Ratha Yatra was established by the ruling Ganga dynasty when they completed the great temple around 1150 CE. It was one of the Hindu festivals that was known to the Western world quite early. Friar Odoric of Pordenone, who visited India in the early 14th century, reported how the idols were placed on chariots, and the king, queen, and people pulled them from the church with singing and music.

Please visit official website Shree Jagannatha Temple

 

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