what is Ratha Yatra?
Jagannathan Ratha yatra is also known as Chariot/Car festival. Rath Yatra is held in Puri (Odisha) every year in the month of June or July (in Odia calendar Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya. It’s celebrated to show the love between the Nephews, Niece, and their Aunt. Lord Jagannath along with his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Devi Subhadra visit their maternal aunt’s house once in a year. As Lord Jagannath Aunt was childless, he made a promise to his aunt that every year he will visit her (Mausi maa Temple) along with his other siblings. As we know, only Hindus are allowed to go inside the Puri Jagannath temple. For devotees, this is the opportunity to meet their beloved Lord outside the temple. Lord himself comes out from his abode to meet his worshipers regardless of their religion, class, and creed.
Three Rathas and their uniqueness.
Three chariots are newly made every year with wood collected from the specific tree such as Phassi and Dhausa etc. Wood are collected from a specific place called “DASAPALLA”. The three chariots are unique in their own way. Each chariot has its own message and pictures painted on it. The names of the chariots are ‘Nandighosha’, ‘Taladhwaja’, ‘Darpadalana‘ . The chariots construction starts from Akhayatrutiya and lasts up to a day before Ratha yatra. The idea of construction is being followed for centuries. The chariots stand on the Bada Danda, the Grand Avenue in front of the temple close to its eastern gate, the name of the gate is Sinhadwara or the Lion’s Gate.
Lord Jagannath Ratha
The alternative names of the chariot are
(Gaurda Is the name of the guardian and dhwaja means chariot)
(Name of the 9th avatar of Visnu dhawaja means chariot)
Lord Balabhadra Ratha
Tala – leaf of palm tree
As the symbol present on the flag is called as Taladhwaja.
The alternative name of the chariot is ‘Langaladhwaja’ .
(Langala weapon of Lord Balabhadra dhwaja means chariot)
Devi Subhadra Ratha
The alternative names of the chariot are
which stand for
‘Trampler of pride’
Divine Bath Festival
Deva Snana prunima (Divine bath festival) Ratha yatra starts from the Deva Snana Purnima also called as snana yatra. On this day, The lord Jagannatha along with his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra take bath with 108 Golden pots of water. In the evening, Jagannath and Balabhadra are dressed up in 'Gajavesha' i.e. elephant headgear representing the God Ganesh.
After the Divine bath festival methodologically it’s believed that Gods fall ill and are kept in a private room under the supervision of Raj Vaidya this lasts for 14 days. During this period no one is allowed to see the Gods. Gods are again painted with the same color except for their eyes or we can say they go under the renovation of their bodies.
Naba jaubana darsan
After the quarantine period is over, Gods get back to temple. As the renovation is done and God’s have a new younger look now, it’s called as Naba Jaubana Darshana. (i.e. new youth look)
Ratha yatra - Journey Begins from here
Finally, the day comes when Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and Younger sister Subhadra are ready to visit their Maternal’s Aunt house (Maa Gundicha Temple). There are several rituals to be done before the Ratha Yatra starts. Following rituals are performed.
This the first step in the Ratha Yatra festival after the morning puja is done. This is the process of taking Gods to form their RATNA SINGHASAN (Royal Chair) to their respective Chariot. There is a sequence to be followed like who will go first and who will come last. The procession starts with ‘Madan Mohan’, followed by powerhouse ‘Sudarshana’, Elder brother Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath. While getting ready for the pahandi the 3 Gods wear a beautiful crown called Tyhaa which is made up of bamboo. When God gets down in ‘Baisi pahacha’ i.e. 22 steps, his tyhaa goes front and back. The sevayats of Gods help them getting down in 22 steps and bring them up to the chariots.
Chera pahanra (Sweep the chariot)
The Puri king performs a moping of the chariot after the Pahandi finishes. The king comes in a spectacular palanquin from his palace. He offers garlands, Arati and then sweeps the chariots with help of a golden broom and. Sabayat team throw fragrant Sandalwood water and flower. This act reflects no work is less and King and a common man are same In front of the lord. During Chhera Pahanra, usually it rains and popular belief is rain from heaven washes off your sin.
Sarathi Lagi – Now the charioteers of each chariot will attach.
Charamala Phita – The wooden stairs to the chariots are taken off before chariot pulling.
Ghoda Lagi – The four wooden horses are attached to the front of the Chariot.
Last step for the first day
Taladhwaja, the chariot of Elder brother moves first and it is followed by Darpadalana (Subhadra chariot). Finally, Nadighosa moves with Lord Jagannath. Devotees regardless of gender, age, status gather together to touch holy chariot rope and pull the chariots to Aunt’s house which is 3 km away from the Main Temple.