Jagannath Ratha Yatra - Celebrate the Festival of Chariots

One of the most revered and ancient Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu, is Shree Jagannath Temple (Srimandira). Located in Puri, Odisha the temple is also lovingly called Jagannath Puri. The main deity, Jagannath, is seated here along with his siblings - brother, Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. For the Hindu devotees, Jagannath Puri is one of the Char-Dham pilgrimages.

 

The temple is famous for the annual chariot festival, called The Ratha Yatra, in which the three deities are placed on huge, elaborately decorated temple cars and taken out in a procession to the accompaniment of drums, cymbals, and chants. The Ratha Yatra is celebrated on the second day of Shukla Paksha, as per the conventional Oriya Calendar. 

 

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The Jagannath Temple is also an architectural marvel in itself and devotees swear by its mystical powers. The idols are wooden and are replaced every 12-19 years(Nabakalebara).

 

Ratha Yatra/Gundicha Yatra

 

In the Ratha Yatra, the three deities are placed with reverence on three separate huge, decorated wooden chariots. Each chariot is covered with giant floral crowns, distinct symbols, signs and colored cloth to distinguish between the three deities. After traditional rituals, the colossal chariots are pulled by devotees from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha temple, where they stay for nine days. The first chariot is of Balabhadra, followed by Subhadra and Jagannath. They are then taken back to Shri Mandir. On the way, the procession stops at the Mausi Maa Temple.

 

Jagannath Temple History

 

The Jagannath Temple was built in the 12th Century, under the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, by King Chodagangadeva, who was a Vaishnavite. Its construction was finished by his descendent, Anangabhima Deva. When the State of Orissa was attacked and conquered by the Afghans in the 16th Century, an independent Khurda Kingdom was established that maintained the temple. When the Britishers annexed Orissa into their empire in 1803, the king of Puri was allowed to manage the temple.

 

Jagannath Puri temple facts

 

Jagannath Puri has some amazing facts to its credit, that defies all scientific explanations. Some of them are-

 

  1. The flag atop the Jagannath Temple flies opposite to the wind direction! 

  2. Here, the wind from the sea blows in the opposite direction as it does in other coastal areas.

  3. It is a mystery how did the Sudarshan Chakra, weighing almost a ton, be placed on the pinnacle of the temple, without the help of machinery, in that century? Also, the Chakra looks the same from any direction!

  4. The sound of the ocean waves is completely muted after a certain point when you enter the temple from the Singha Dwara. According to mythology, Jagannath’s sister, Subhadra, wished for serenity inside the temple and the Lord granted it to her.

  5. How many ever devotees visit the temple during the day, the Parsadam served never gets over and amazingly, there is no leftover too, which would go to waste!

  6. No birds are seen sitting or flying over the temple dome. So much so, that it is claimed even airplanes don’t fly over the temple.


Jagannath Ratha Yatra 2019 will fall on Thursday, the 4rth of July.

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