Chariot Festival of Puri- The Jagannath Rath Yatra 2020!

India is a land of spirituality and faith. The people over here have deep faith on Almighty and their religion. It is a land of festivity and every state of its has major festivals of their own. These festivals are unique and hold much importance.

The festivals are observed with enthusiasm and splendor. To know the true colors of India and the concept behind the festivals one should visit India at the time of festivals, when the country possess a different outlook, when the people gets indulged in offering prayers and remain happy.

When is Jagannath Rath Yatra in 2020?

Odisha, previously known as Orissa celebrates its major festival Jagannath Rath Yatra every year at the holy city of Puri. This year the Rath Yatra or Car Festival will be held on 23rd June 2020. It is considered as a part of the Char Dham pilgrimages. The Puri Rath Yatra displays three majestic chariots possessing the idols of the deities- Lord Jagannath, Lord Balrama and Devi Subhadra.

This religious festival is attended by millions of devotees and travelers from across the globe in Jagannath dham Puri. It is believed that attending the Rath Yatra is a gateway to heaven. It is either held in the month of June or July every year.

Jagannath Rath Yatra, Puri

Why is Jagannath Rath Yatra Celebrated?

The festival marks the annual visit of Lord Jagannath to Gundicha Temple via his maternal aunt’s home (Mausi Maa Temple) located near Balagandi Chaka in Puri with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. .

Every year the Rath Yatra or the journey begins from the Jaganath Temple of Puri. A grand procession of the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are taken out in huge ornamented chariots to reach Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days. Then the return Yatra or journey of the deities to the Main temple takes place, which is known as Bahuda Yatra.

Bahuda Rath Yatra, Jagannath Puri
Bahuda Yatra

How is Jagannath Rath Yatra Celebrated

Several fascinating rituals are involved with this festival. The most important part of the ritual is Chera Pahara, where the street has to be cleaned by Gajapati King with a golden-handled broom then only the chariots arrive. Then the ceremony of Pahandi Vijay begins, where the dwarf forms of the deities are installed on these huge and beautifully decorated chariots. The Yatra of the Chariots then begins from the main doorway Singhdwara (the Lion’s Gate) to the main destination (Gundicha Temple).

What Rituals are Performed During the Festival

1. Brahma Paribartan

The main theme of the festival is reincarnation. To symbolize reincarnation, the temple’s old idols are destroyed and new idols are inaugurated. The creation of the new idols is an interesting ritual, by itself. The idols are created by carving neem wood. During this sculpturing, Vedic prayers and songs are chanted from outside the area. Once they are completed, the idols are taken into the inner sanctum of the temple. The procession of chanting will follow the idol. The old idols are placed in front of the new idol, face-to-face. Then, chanting and prayers are performed to transfer the supreme power of the old idol into the new one.

This ritual is done in sheer privacy. Even the priest performing the ritual will be blindfolded. His hands and legs will be wrapped with cloth so that he will not sense the transfer. This ritual is called as the Brahma Paribartan, which means changing of soul.

2. Koili Baikuntha Burial

Once this ritual is completed, the new idol is inaugurated into the throne. The old idol is then taken to the Koili Baikuntha. After a sacred ceremony, the old idols will be buried. This ceremony happens before dawn. It is said that if any commoner sees this ritual, it would be fatal. Only the priests who perform this ritual could witness it. To avoid commoners entering the temple, the state government will issue a complete blackout in Puri during the night of the burial. After the burial ceremony, the lights will be switched on. Later, flowers, foods will be served to the deity and worship rituals will start.

3. Chariot Procession

During the festival, the new idols will be taken out on a procession on a large chariot. This chariot moves through the streets of Puri from the Royal Palace closer to Jagannath Temple. If you are interested in the chariot construction festival, you ought to visit Puri during Akshaya Tritiya.

4. Ritual Bath (Snana Yatra)

18 days prior to the festival, the idols will be given a ritual bath with 108 pitchers of fresh water. This ritual is called as Snana Yatra. This ceremony takes place on the full moon day of Jyeshtha month. It is a belief that the idols would feel unwell after the bath and the idols are kept away from the public until the Ratha Yatra festival.

After the chariot ride around the city, the idols are returned to the temple. They are decorated with gold ornaments and are placed inside the temple. Later, a comic enactment is arranged. According to mythology, the Goddess Laxmi is angry that the God left the temple without informing her and will close the gates of the temple, making the God stuck outside. God will plead for her forgiveness with sweets and songs and she lets him in.

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What Are the Rath Yatra Ritual Dates for 2020?

July 4, 2019 – Sri Gundicha (placement of deities on the chariot)

This is the time of the first chariot move, which takes place to Gundicha Temple. The first chariot to leave the temple is Lord Balabhadra. Then, Lord Subhadra and Lord Jagannath follows. The chariot pulling starts by 4 pm after the other rituals are completed.

Chariot Pulling on Jagannath Rath Yatra

July 8, 2019 – Hera Panchami (Take Goddess deity to Gundicha temple)

The consort of Lord Jagannath, Lord Lakshmi will be worried that her husband is missing. Since she is irritated by his absence, she will visit Gundicha Temple to know what is happening. The Goddess’ deity is taken on a palanquin to the Gundicha Temple from Jagannath Temple.

Hera Panchami, Jagannath Rath Yatra Puri

July 12, 2019 – Bahuda Yatra (Return of deity to Jagannath temple)

This is the grand return chariot procession, which ends at the Lion’s Gate of the Puri Jagannath temple. The specialty of the ritual is that the chariots are pulled in reverse direction, inside the temple. The ceremony starts from 4 pm.

July 13, 2019 – Suna Besha (decoration of the deity)

The deities are decorated with gold ornaments. This ritual has been in practice since 15th century. The commoners cannot watch this ritual. The decorated deities will be open for pilgrims from 5 pm to 11 pm. During this ceremony, the deities will not be placed inside the temple.

July 15, 2019 – Niladri Bijaya (deity is taken inside the temple)

This is the grand ceremony of taking the deities inside the temple.

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What To Expect During The Festival?

This is the only time during the whole year when non-Hindus are not allowed into the temple. However, they can take part in the procession. Touching chariot is not allowed by non-Hindus.  Most of the rituals are considered very sacred and are kept away from public’s eye. If a ritual is restricted, please follow the instructions to avoid commotion and for personal safety.

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During this festival, the crowd is uncontrollable. Thus, if you are planning to visit with your children, please be alert.

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Interesting Information About Lord Jagannath

1. Deity has no arms or legs

Do you know that the deity does not have any arms or legs? According to Mythology, the image of Lord Jagannath came in a dream of a king. The King ordered his royal carpenter to carve the image of his dreams by explaining it to him. The carpenter warned the king that if anyone sees the idol before it is completed, the work cannot be finished. The king agreed with him and gave him complete privacy. However, curiosity disturbed the king and he peeped into the workshop. Thus, the idol remains incomplete. It is considered that this presence of the statue shows that God is present in every human and reminds us to be kind to everyone, including those who are different from us.

2. The flag on top of the temple always flutters to the opposite direction of the airflow. The flag is changed every day, for the past 1800 years. If the flag is not changed, the temple will be shut down for 18 years.

3. The tip of the temple is visible from every part of the city.

4. The government has approved that nothing will fly above the temple. This includes any form of aircrafts. Even birds are not found flying above the temple.

5. The temple’s architectural structure makes it impossible to cast shadow at any given point of the day.

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About The Grand Chariots

These grand chariots are built every year by skilled craftsmen using wood of particular trees like dhausa and phassi brought from Dasapalla. The logs come floating in the river Mahanadi, collected near Puri and moved through the roadways. The process of constructing the three chariots have been prevailing the same since centuries. These adorned chariots that stand on the Bada Danda are roofed with bright canopies (of red cloth with stripes of yellow, black and blue).

Each of the chariots has four horses attached. These chariots have painted wooden images of many deities on its sides. Each of the chariots is attached to four horses. Each chariot has a charioteer. They are named as Daruka (Jagannatha’s charioteer), Matali (Balarama’s Charioteer) and Arjuna (Subhadra’s Charioteer).

The chariots are fastened with ropes and are enthusiastically pulled by devotees, coming from all over the world.

Popularity of the Car Festival

One can estimate the popularity of this festival by looking at the crowd gathered during the festival. The pious tourists seeking blessings from Lord Jagannath remain present there and enjoy being a part of this majestic celebration.

The holy city Puri with its magnificent temples and spectacular beaches makes a perfect holiday spot for tourists. So, if you want to participate in the Famous Car Festival of Puri then plan your india tour now.

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