Jagannath Rath Yatra is one of the biggest and widely-celebrated festivals of India wherein millions of devotees arrive at the Jagannath Temple in Puri to participate in the yatra processions and seek blessings of Lord Jagannath. The festival is celebrated in Ashadh Sud 2, an auspicious day which is also known as Ashad Shukla Dwitiya, and it generally falls in early July according to the Hindu Lunar Calendar. The largest Rath Yatra festival is celebrated at Jagannath Puri in Orissa, while Ahmedabad’s Jagannath temple also organises the yatra in Gujarat.
Everyone, irrespective of caste, creed or religion is same before Mahaprabhu #Jagannatha. My SandArt of the Lord and his greatest devotee, Salabega for the pious occasion of #RathaJatra at #Puri. pic.twitter.com/4wpMrLuB5y
— Sudarsan Pattnaik (@sudarsansand) July 13, 2018
This year the Jagannath Rath Yatra will be celebrated on July 14, while the Ulta Ratha or Bahuda Jatra or return car will take place on July 23, 2018.
There are various stories behind celebrating the Jagannath Rath Yatra. One of the tales is associated with King Subal who was a great devotee of Jagannath. He once asked a sculptor to create idols of Lord Krishna with his chariot at Kurukshetra, along with Krishna’s brother Balaram and sister Subhadra. The sculptor agreed on making the idols on the condition that he will work in a room in solitude to which the King agreed.
But when the King didn’t get to see the deities after waiting for long, in a moment of impulsiveness he opened the door of the room where the sculptor was working. That’s when the sculptor disappeared in a flash and all the King could see were the deities. It is said that it’s the same idols at the Rath Yatra in Puri which the King had gotten made The other story behind this festival is associated with Lord Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra in Dwarka. Once Lord Krishna’s eight wives wanted to listen to Krishna and Gopis’ divine tales from mother Rohini. But mother Rohini was unwilling to narrate them, only to oblige later on the condition that Subhadra would guard the door so that no one overhears.
Ice Idols of Lord Jaggannath, Lord Balbhadra and Devi Subhadra at -23 degree Celsius In Siberia.
— Odisha News Insight (@OdishaInsight) July 13, 2018
While the stories were being narrated, Subhadra got so captivated by them that in the meantime Lord Krishna and his brother Balaram arrived at the doorway and the only way she could stop them was by standing between them with her hands wide apart. That’s when sage Narad arrived and seeing the three siblings together he prayed for the three of them to give their blessings in this way forever. The Gods granted Narad’s wish and that’s how Lord Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra reside in Puri’s Jagannath temple eternally.
Do you know why Jagannath is unique?
The unique feature of the temple is that Krishna is worshipped not with a spouse, but with his siblings, his elder brother Balabhadra and his younger sister Subhadra — accompanied by the Sudarshana Chakra.
The images are malformed, with no hands or feet, and disproportionately large heads.
They are not made of metal or stone, but of wood and cloth and resin, and therefore must be replaced from time to time, leading to rituals in which the enshrined deities fall sick, die and are reborn.
The story goes that when the image was being carved, the artisan had asked the patron king not to open the door until the work on the idols was completed. But the impatient king did open the door of the workshop, as he did not hear sounds of the wood being carved and polished. Thus, the idol was left incomplete.
During the festival, the deities are decorated with over 208 kg gold to complete their remaining limbs.
Odias wait for this auspicious day with bated breath when Lord comes out of his abode (Shri Mandira) to meet his devotees 🙏
Can't wait for tomorrow #RathaJatra #JaiJagannatha pic.twitter.com/1ZypWyYPcb
— Sheetal Mishra 🌼 (@itssitu) July 13, 2018
Do you know about the chariots of the deities?
The chariots of the deities are newly built every year. Jagannath’s chariot is called Nandighosa, the chariot of Balabhadra is called Taladhwaja and that of Subhadra is called Dwarpadalana.
The total number of wheels on Lord Jagannath’s chariot is 16, Lord Balabhadra’s chariot is 14 and Subhadra’s chariot is 12.