Monday, February 28, 2011

An insight to "Rath Yatra"


One of my friend suggested me to write about Odisha --- my native. Now, that I thought to write about Odisha the first thing that I would like to write is about our lord Mahaprabhu Jagannath. This is not something new but something which is worldwide known about Jagannath - the Rath Yatra(car festival).

Srikhetra of Sri Jagannath is one of the Dham's of the four Dhamas - the Badrinath Dham in North, The Ramanath Dham (Rameswaram) in South, The Dwarikanath Dham(Dwarika) in west. Sri Jagannath the black coloured, wheel eyed (Chakanayana) deity is called Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe.

The main features about him is his form - Rupa, His food - Mahaprasada, His festival - rath yatra and his dwelling place - the temple. Everything about him is great. The road is Badadhanda, the temple is Bada Deula, the sea is Mahodadhi, and his food is Mahaprasada.

The festival of Lord Jagannath is called rath yatra or Gundicha yatra or Ghosh yatra. Gundicha was the queen of King Indradyumna the builder of the first temple. She initiated this festival. So, the festival is named after her. The Sri Gundicha temple is the place where Jagannath had his first manifestation. Hence, this is considered the birthplace of Jagannath.

Rath yatra is a symbolic represention of spreading Universal love and brotherhood. The idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra do not have fully developed hands and legs. The idol shows us to love the physically challenged. When we love the lord in this form then we must give the same respect to all irrespective of their physical ability.

The festival begins by priest and devotees together carrying the idols of Sudarshana Chakra, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath from temple to the Cart by traditional ceremonial manner called Pahandi, when Lord Balabhadra and Lord Jagannath are swinged foreward and backward. There is no restriction on the devotees and their form of worship on this day. Devotees are allowed to freely touch and embrace the deities.
The rath of Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosha with 16 chakas(16 wheels). The cart is decorated by yellow and red coloured fabrics. The rath of Balabhadra is called Taladweja with 14 chakas(14 wheels). This is decorated with red and green fabric. The cart of Devi Subhadra is called Debadalana with 12 chakas(12 wheels). This is decorated with red and black fabrics. Thus, all the three cart is decorated with yellow, green and black fabrics combined with red fabric.

After, the deities are seated in their respective rathas, the Gajapati Maharaja of Puri, sweeps the floor of all the three carts.The tradition or niti is popularly called as Chhera Pahara and is one of the major attraction. This tradition symbolises that even the highest Sovereign Power of the state is only a servant before the Almighty. Thus, this popular tradition signifies that there is no difference of what we do. Whether it be the powerful job of a king or the job of sweeper, everything is same before the eye of Almighty. This also teaches us not to look down upon some one's job and perform our duty with utter devotion.
Then horses and ropes are attached to the Rathas and devotees pull them from Badadhanda to Gundicha temple. There is no discrimination based on caste, creed, religion, region or gender on this day. Everyone is allowed to pull the Rathas. This liberty indicates that the deity is equal for everyone on the earth and he imparts equal opportunity to all.

The festival goes on for nine days. In case, the rathas are not able to reach Sri Gundicha temple before sunset, then they are dragged the following day. After, five days from the commencement of the festival another major ceremonial event happens which is called Hera Panchami. On this day, Goddess Mahalakshmi visits the Sri Gundicha temple and breaks the cart of Jagannath on her return. On the evening of ninth day, all the three carts and the deities are pulled back to the Bada Dhanda. And the following day the deities are decorated with gold jewellery to start the Sunabesha ceremony.

Thus, the nine day long Rath Yatra has many significance that shows us to spread Universal love and brotherhood. Nowadays, this festival is not just limited to Srikhetra Puri, but is celebrated world wide in all the Jagannath temples. Join together in not just celebrating Rath yatra but also in spreading universal love.



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                               May God bless you all. Jai Jagannath!!!!!!!
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3 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing about Jagannath Puri rath Yatra, Puri. Puri is part of the Char Dham pilgrimages and also one of the 7 holy Indian cities. Click here to know about hotels in Puri offering comfortable accommodation in decent prices.

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