Jagannath Rath Yatra 2018
Jagannath Rath Yatra is one of the most-awaited festivals in the Orissa or Odisha. It is celebrated in the month of June or July every year. Jagannath Rath Yatra 2018 will be observed on 14th July. It is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), his sister Goddess Subhadra and his elder brother Lord Balabhadra. It is also known by different names like Gundicha Yatra, Chariot Festival, Dasavatara and Navadina Yatra.
The wooden idols of the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple. These idols are placed in beautifully decorative chariots, and are accompanied by chants and conches, which can be heard all over the city. Before the Yatra commences, the idols are bathed with 109 buckets of water, which is Snana Pornima. These are then placed in isolation till the day of procession, as it is believed that they are ill. This event is called Ansara. On the day of the procession, the holy ritual of Chhera Pahara is performed by the royal successor of Orissa. At this time, hordes of locals and devotees flock around the temple area.
During Chhera Pahara, the deities are brought from the temple by the King and are placed on the chariot. Before keeping them, the king himself sweeps the chariot with a broom that has a gold handle. He later decorates the chariot with flowers with his own hands. The ground on which the chariot will move is also cleaned by him, after which sandalwood is sprinkled on it.
Through this ritual, it is proposed that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord. The temple is accessible only by Hindus but on the day of the Rath Yatra, people of all faiths can visit the temple. The 3 deities remain at the Gundicha Temple, their aunt’s place for a span of 9 days. Later, they are back to their home. This return journey is called the ‘Bahuda Yatra’.
On reaching the Jagannath Temple in the evening, they wait outside. On the next day, the idols are adorned with new clothes as babies. This event is called Suna Vesa. After this day, the deities are placed again into the sanctum sanctorum, marking an end to the Rath Yatra of Jagannath Puri.
The Chariots in Ratha Yatra
The prime attraction of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath is the elaborate Chariots. The preparation of the chariots starts on the day of Akshay Tritiya. There are 3 main chariots, pulled by hands using long ropes, which are 50 meters in length. It is believed that pulling this rope is like adding to your good Karma, and doing penance for your bad deeds.
Places to visit near Jagannath temple
Orissa has several attractions for its visitors. There are various beaches and temples here. Puri beach, Konark temple, Konark beach, Raghurajpur artist village, Chilika Lake, Sakshigopal temple, Pipili village, Shree Loknath temple and Gundicha Temple are some of the popular attractions near Jagannat temple, that can be visited.