Jagannath Rath Yatra festival is celebrated every year on 2nd day of shukla pakshya of the month of Ashad at Puri to perform the procession of Lord Jagannath chariots from Puri Jagannath temple to Gundicha Mata Temple.
Rath Yatra is also called Festival of Chariot. It is devoted to Lord Jagannath and celebrated to commemorate him on annual basis. The whole Rath Yatra process involves the holy procession of deities Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra to Gundicha Mata Temple.
After nine days people bring the deities with Ratha Yatra to the same place, Jagannath temple. The returning process of Rath Yatra to the Puri Jagannath temple is called as Bahuda Jatra. The chariot carrying Lord Jagannath is called “Nandighosa”, and has a height of 45 feet.
Yatra is a significant event which occurres during sacred occasions of the Hindus. Lord Jagannath is the deity whose incarnation was Lord Krishna on the earth in Dwapar Yug. This festival of holy journey of the chariot is carried out by devotees and saints, chanting holy mantras.
People want to touch the chariot or even ropes pulling the chariot, to be blessed by the God. Devotees sing bhajans while pulling the holy chariot on wheels.
Lord Krishna is the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Hence he's often worshipped as Jagannath.
The name comes from the conjugation of two Sanskrit words - jagat (world) and natha (master). Hence, "Jagannath" means master of the world and refers to Lord Krishna, who is held to be the Supreme God and creator of the Universe.
It's believed that Lord Krishna appeared in his human form on earth in Dwapar Yuga on midnight of the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Sravan. He was born to destroy the evil and protect the good. He declared that in Kal Yug, he would dwell in seaside town of Puri.
Therefore Puri is accepted by pious Hindus as the abode of Jagannath. The great sage Adi Shankaracharya I chose Puri as one of the Char Dham. The Char Dhams is the most important pilgrimage. The person who visits these four places is believed to attain moksha.
Puri is visited by thousands of pilgrims all the year round but to be there at the time of Rath Yatra is regarded as holy as a visit to Hardwar and Kashi. Hence elaborate arrangements are annually made by State Govt and local people on the onset of Rath Yatra celebrations.
According to a legend, Lord Jagannath once expressed his desire to visit his birthplace Gundicha once every year for a week. And so he did. Every year, along with his elder brother Balbhadra and younger sister Subhadra, he spent seven days at this place.
The entire tradition of Rath Yatra owes its origin to the ancient weekly sojourn of the deities. The idols are taken through the streets of Puri on beautifully decorated wooden chariots resembling temple structures, so that everyone can have the fortune of seeing them.
The journey ends at the Gundicha mandir where the idols of the deities are dismounted from the chariots and taken inside. After a week, the deities are returned back on chariots to their original abode, the Jagannath temple.
Some facts:
Any piece of cloth is dominated by the wind to fly according to its course. But the flag mounted on top of Jagannath Temple is a unique exception to the principle. This flag flows in opposite direction to the wind's course without any scientific background to back it.
Every day a priest scrambles the walls of the temple with a height equivalent to a 45 storey building, to change the flag atop the temple. This ritual dates far back to the day the temple was built. The practice is done with bare hands.
It is believed if the ritual is skipped for one day from the calendar, the temple will be shut down for a long 18 years.
The temple is also believed to have no shadow at all, at any time of the day from any directions possible.
It's an architectural marvel.
There are two mysteries present at the pinnacle of the temple in the form of the Sudarshan Chakra. From every direction you look, the Chakra looks back with the same appearance. It's like it was designed to look just the same from every direction.
The sky is the bird domain. We see birds sitting, resting and flying above our heads and rooftops all the time. But this particular area is restricted, not even a single bird is encountered above the temple dome, even an airplane could not be seen hovering above the temple.
As per Hindu beliefs, wasting food is considered a bad sign; the Temple follows the same. The total number of people visiting the temple varies between 2,000 to 2,00,000 every day and increasing. Miraculously, the Parsadam prepared every day is never wasted, not even a bite.
The traditional way to cook the Parsadam is preserved by the priests here. Exactly seven pots are used as vessels mounted over one another and are cooked using firewood. Enchantingly, the top most pot is cooked first, and the rest follows the same order.
As soon as you put the first step inside the temple from Singha Dwar entrance, the audibility to the ocean waves is entirely lost. This is more prominent in the evening. Again, no scientific explanation to this fact. The sound returns when you leave the temple.
The deities are buried from every 14 to 18 years, one above another and replaced by new ones. These deities are made up of neem wood and are believe to be disintegrated on their own.
Every year there is a place just ahead of the Gundicha temple where the procession comes to a stop by itself. This is a mystery. The temple doors are closed to the public after 6 PM and inspite of elaborate planning, the proceedings are delayed in every Yatra.
This delay gives an opportunity for the thousands of devotees to have darshan of the Deities at a time which otherwise would not have been possible in the precincts of the temple. Probably it is the Lord’s way of conveying that all mortals are alike in his eyes.
This year the Rath Yatra started on the 4th of July. Millions of devotees have come from across the world to seek Lord Jagannath's blessings and to fulfil their wishes.
Jai Jagannath. 🙏
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