The time of the year has come again where people from all over the country are gearing up for Jagannath Yatra and Yatras, with the main yatra originating from Puri. Rath Yatras meaning travel on the chariot for Lord Jagannath or Lord Krishna dates back to as old as 10th or 11th century and its mention can be found in Skanda Purana, Brahma Puran etc. Vaastu, Feng-Shui and Nameology expert- Dr. Rupa Batra enlightens us with more details on the occasion of Jagannath Yatra.
According to the tradition fully decorated beautiful idols of Jagannath, Subhadra and Balbhadra are taken out to one Gundicha temple. The idols are placed there for nine days after which the return journey is made back home. This return journey is called Bahuda Yatra.
Normally, the deities are worshipped in the premises of the temple. But this yatra or the journey is witnessed with huge larger than life idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and that of their sister Subhadra. These idols are then carried on these decorated chariots to their aunty’s temple which is known as (Gundicha Mandir). This Gundicha mandir is situated at a distance of some two kilometers from the main Jagannath Puri temple.
It is believed that Gundicha Ghar was the home of the aunt of Lord Jagannath. According to legends, Lord Krishna or the Lord Jagannath once showed an intense desire to go to his birthplace which is actually this ‘Gundicha ghar’. And it is believed that Lord Krishna used to visit his birth place with his elder brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra. He used to stay there for seven days after which they would return home. From that point of view, Jagannath Yatra is considered important.
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Few interesting facts about Jagannath Puri
-The Jagannath yatra of Puri is famous not only in India but all over the world! The grandeur of this occasion attracts more than one million devotees from every corner of the world.
- This festival marked the beginning of equality amongst people as this chariot festival allowed everyone from the society, to view the Yatra, to those also who were not allowed to enter the temple premises otherwise.
- The importance of Jagannath Temple in Puri is considered very sacred. It is one of the char dhams. The other three dhams include Dwarika in West, Badrinath in north, Rameshwaram in south.
- The chariot of Jagannath is known as Nandighosha which has 18 wheels.
- The chariot of Balbhadra is known as Taladhwaja and has 16 wheels.
- The Chariot of Subhadra is known as Devadalana and has 14 wheels.
- The idols of Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra are also made of pious wood which is replaced in every twelve years.
- San Francisco was the first country where this yatra was carried out outside India in the year 1967 on July 9. This took place by the efforts and guidance of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Swami Prabhupada, was the Founder of Acarya which was International Society of Krishna Consciousness. He got the idea of taking out this yatra after performing this festival in San Francisco.
- Currently, the Rath Yatra or the ‘Festival of the Chariots’ is performed around the world, even in Manhattan through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Detroit organized its first Rath Yatra in the year 1985 and today it has become one of most celebrated festivals outside India.