Devoted to Lord Jagannath, the Jagannath Rath Yatra is a very important festival for Hindus which is organized every year at the Jagannath temple Puri. This Rath Yatra is commemorated with energy and colossal zest at Puri in Orissa. The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is commemorating on the second day (Dwitiya) during the Shukla Paksha of the Ashada month. This festival marks the annual visit of Lord Jagannath to the famous Gundicha Mata temple. This is a very famous festival all across the globe, as people from different areas of the world turn up to substantiation the Rath Yatra. In the Rath Yatra, chariots are pulled which consists of a race in which chariots are pulled. It is thought that one day before the Ratha Yatra, the Gundicha temple is washed by the devotees and this ritual is called as, Gundicha Marjana. In 2017, the Jagannath Ratha Yatra falls on 25th of June. This Yatra is celebrated usually in the months of June or July.
The word ‘Jagannath’ exemplifies the Lord of the Universe, and Lord Jagannath is contemplated as an expression of Lord Vishnu. Lord Jagannath is reverenced and worshipped at the renowned Jagannath temple of Puri in Odisha. Moreover, the Jagannath temple is consider as one of the Char Dham pilgrimages, and for a Hindu it is faith to visit once in his/her lifetime. In the Puri Ratha Yatra, Lord Jagannath sister and brother namely Devi Subhadra and Balabhadra respectively are also worshipped. During this festival, all the three deities Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and their brother Balabhadra are worshipped in the Jagannath temple, and they are taken out in their respective chariots on the streets of Puri. Every year this chariot festival attracts tourists, devotees and pilgrims not only from India but from all across the whole world. This festival marks the annual visit of Lord Jagannath to the famous Gundicha Mata temple.
If we ponder over the legend of Jagannath Rath Yatra, then according to the Hindu scriptures, once queens of Lord Krishna urged mother Rohini to unfold the various Raas leelas of Lord Krishna with the Gopis. Rohini, before narrating the secret tales of Lord Krishna sent Subhadra at the door not allow to anyone enter. Then, after sometime Krishna and Balram came there and stand at the door standing on the right and left sides of Subhadra. They started to listen the narration of mother Rohini about Lord Krishna’s infancy stories. While they were engaged in the stories, Narad arrived. On witnessing the three siblings together, Narad asked all the three deities to grant him the divine manifestation in the same posture. The request of Narad was fulfill and he witnessed the divine statement of all the three deities, and hence all three reside in the Jagannath temple Puri.
Rituals during Rath Yatra
Pahandi: It is a ritual in which the deities are taken to the Chariot from the Jagannath temple for their journey towards Gundicha Temple. Gundicha is considering being a true devotee of Lord Krishna, and all the three deities visit her to respect her devotion towards god Krishna. The idol of Balabhadra is taken out first, followed by the idol of Subhadra and at last the idol of Jagannath.
Chhera Pahara: It is one of the most important rituals perform on the first day of the journey. This ritual meaning that everyone is equal in the eyes of the deities. In order to perform this ritual, the Gajapati King wears the uniform of a sweeper and cleans the area around the deities and chariots with a gold-handled broom, sandalwood water (Chandan wood water) with immense devotion. This ritual is performing for 2 days, the first time when the deities are taken to the Gundicha temple and the 2nd time when the deities return to the Jagannath temple. When all the three deities arrive the Gundicha temple, then they are given a ceremonial bathing and are dressed in boirani cloth. The 4th day is celebrated as Hera Panchami marked by the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi in search of Lord Jagannath.
Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is devoted to Lord Jagannath who is considering as one of the embodiment of Lord Vishnu. Being one of the chief pilgrimages of Hindus, the Jagannath temple holds utmost spiritual importance. On the chance of Puri Ratha Yatra, devotees are permit to have a sight of the deities. The Rath Yatra in Puri attracts tourists and pilgrims from all the corners of the whole world. Among the foreign visitors, this Rath Yatra is known by the name of (Puri Car Festival). It is believed that if a person participated with full devotion in the Rath Yatra would get liberated from the cycle of birth and death. Having a mere sight of Lord Jagannath on his chariot is considered very fortunate, and every year these chariots are designed from a special kind of wood according to the spiritual specifications. The idols of the deities are also made of wood and are change in every 12 years. The festival of Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is a symbol of equality, as it is above all forms of differentiation.