RATH YATRA

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Location : Puri, Orissa
Falls On : The Bright Fortnight of Ashadha (June - July)
Duration : 10 Days
Dates Back : 10th - 11th Century

THE CAR FESTIVAL
Orissa is a land of innumerable fairs and festivals celebrated round the year but the most spectacular of them is the Rath Yatra, hitherto known as the Car Festival to western world.

PREPARATION FOR THE RATH YATRA

'Baisakha Sukla Trutiya' 3rd day of bright fortnight of Baisakha (May) Construction of Raths (Chariots ) begins.
'Snana Poornima' the full moon day of Jyestha (May-June). The Ceremonial Bath of the deities. (Bathing festival) and retirement of the deities from public view for treatment and rest for 14 days. This period is known as "ANASARA".
'Ashadha Sukla Pratipada', the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashadha (June-July) Reappearance of the deities ('Navajauvan Darshan')
'Ashadha Sukla Dwitiya' the second day of bright fortnight of Ashadha (June-July) Commencement of the Rath Yatra.

Celebration
The three wooden deities of lord 'Jagannatha', 'Balbhadra' & 'Devi Subhadra' with 'Sudarshan' are brought out of the main temple and taken to Gundicha temple for a week's visit in three beautifully decorated chariots.

Rath Yatra, Puri, OrissaSpecialty
From the many specialties of the festival the most unique one is that, this is the only occasion to see, even embrace the deities irrespective of caste, colour and creed outside the Temple.

Legend
After performing all the necessary prostrations, he carried the lump of wood to the temple and, following instructions from 'Brahma', called the court carpenter 'Vishvakarma' to carve out the image. Vishvakarma agreed to perform the task on condition that no one so much as set eyes on the deity until it was completed. The king, however, unable to contain his excitement, peeped through a crack in the door of the carpenter's workshop during the night to see how the job was progressing. Vishvakarma spotted him, downed tools just as he had promised and cast a spell on the deity so that no one else could finish it.

SEQUENCE OF THE RATH YATRA
Divine Procession (Pahandi Bije): The deities are brought out of the temple to the chariots by rhythmic movement called "Pahandi" in a royal procession to the accompaniment of the beat of the 'cymbals' and drums and chanting of prayers by devotees.

Sweeping of the Chariots (Chhera Pahanra): After the deities are installed on their respective Chariots, the traditional King of Puri sweeps the Chariots with a golden broom, which is known as "Chhera Pahanra".

Pulling of Chariots (Rath Tana): The most exciting part of the Rath Yatra is the pulling of Chariots by thousands of devotees to the Gundicha Temple, which is about 3-kms away from the starting point of the 'yatra'. Devotees stay in the temple for a week.

Return Journey (Bahuda Yatra): On 'Ashadha Sukla Dasami', the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Ashadha (June-July), return journey or 'Bahuda Yatra' of the deities commences in the same manner from Gundicha temple to the main temple like Rath Yatra.

Suna Besha: Before going in their original abode, the deities are dressed in Golden attire on the Chariots the next day.

NABAKALEBAR
When two months of Ashadha fall in one year, Rath Yatra is observed as the festival of 'Nabakalebar' the old deities are buried within the temple premises ('Koilibaikuntha') and are replaced by new deities, carved out of Margosa trees for which there are set procedures. Double Ashadha occurs at intervals of 8 to 19 years. As history records, Nabakalebar was held in 1996, 1977, 1969, 1950 and 1931 during this century.

THE CHARIOTS
DESCRIPTION OF CHARIOTS

Chariot Of Jagannatha: NANDIGHOSHA / GARUDADHWAJA / KAPIDHWAJA
No. Of Wheels 16
No. Of Wooden Pieces Used 832
Height 13.5m
Length & Breadth 10.52m X 10.52m
Colour Of Cloth Wrappings Red & Yellow
Guardian Deity 'Garuda'
Charioteer 'Daruka'
The Flag 'Trailokyamohini'
The Horses 'Shankha', 'Balahaka', 'Shweta' and 'Haridashwa'.
The Rope 'Sankhachuda'
Side Deities 'Hanuman', 'Rama', 'Laxmana', 'Narayana', 'Krishna', 'Govardhan Dharana', 'Chintamani', 'Raghav' & 'Nrusimha'.

Chariot of Balabhadra: TALADHWAJA
No. Of Wheels 14
No. Of Wooden Pieces Used 763
Height 13.2m
Length & Breadth 10.06m X 10.06m
Colour Of Cloth Wrappings Red & Blue
Guardian Deity 'Basudev'
Charioteer 'Matali'
The Flag 'Urnani'
The Horses 'Tibra', 'Ghora', 'Dirghashran' and 'Swarnanva'.
The Rope 'Basuki'
Side Deities 'Gandantakari', 'Harihar', 'Traimbaka', 'Vasudeva', 'Aghora', 'Pralambai', 'Natamvara', 'Tripurasiva' & 'Mrutyunjaya'.

Chariot of Subhadra: DARPADALANA / PADMADHWAJA
No. Of Wheels 12
No. Of Wooden Pieces Used 593
Height 12.9m
Length & Breadth 9.6m X 9.6m
Colour Of Cloth Wrappings Red and black
Guardian Deity 'Jayadurga'
Charioteer 'Arjuna'
The Flag 'Nandambika'
The Horses 'Ruchika', 'Mochika', 'Jita' and 'Aparajita'.
The Rope 'Swarnachuda'
Side Deities 'Chamunda', 'Bhadrakali', 'Harachandika', 'Katyayani', 'Jayadurga', 'Varahi', 'Kali', 'Mangala' & 'Vimala'.



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