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Jagganath Puri Rath Yathra is a traditional festival that started almost 500 years ago in India.

It is one of the oldest Rath Yathra in the world.

We celebrate the visit of Lord Jagganath and his siblings to Gundicha Temple and Mausi Maa Temple.

Lord Jagganath is a form of Lord Vishnu and is also a portrayal of Lord Krishna.

The siblings of Lord Jagganath are Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.

 Every year, between June and July, we celebrate Jagganath Puri Rath Yatra in Puri, Odhisa.

Here, in this article on Jagganath Puri Rath Yatra, we will look into the origin, significance, celebration, and stories associated with it.

The origin of Jagganath Puri Rath Yathra, also known as the Festival of Chariots, took place over five centuries ago.

It is still in practice and begins on Ashadha Shukla Dwitiya and ends on Ashadha Shukla Dashmi.

 There are countless references to Jagganath Puri Rath Yathra in the Puranic texts.

There are several legends and stories associated with the same as well.

How is Jagganath Puri Rath Yathra Celebrated?: Devotees elaborately celebrate Jagganath Puri Rath Yatra.

There are three chariots of each of the three deities.

Every year, they make a new chariot for the Gods and Goddess.

They use wood from Phassi and Dhausa trees for that purpose.

 As per the custom, they would bring the wood from Dassapalla, a place in Nayagarh district in Odhisa. Dassapalla is a location of archaeological significance.

The duty of fetching wood to make the chariots is for a particular group of carpenters.

Once they bring the wood, the carpenters will start their work on Akshaya Tritiya.

As per the belief system, the temple would remain closed for a week before the procession.

People believe that the siblings have a fever after playing in 108 pitchers of water under the Sun.

 After they recover from their illness, they would decide to visit their aunt for a few days.

Jagganath Puri Rath Yatra bases itself on this story of the three siblings visiting their aunt’s place.

Devotees take the decorated chariots for a ceremonial procession with Lord Jagganathan, Lord Balabhadhran, and Goddess Subhadra’s idols.

They draw the chariots firstly to the Gundicha Temple, and then they would then wait near Bhakta Slebega’s crematorium.

 Here, a Muslim devotee would pay his respects to the deities.

It is then that the procession continues to Mauasi Maa Temple, believed to be the abode of their aunt.

Here, devotees would offer the Lord his favorite food, Poda Pitha.

The ceremonial procession returns after seven days.

As per the beliefs, it shows the time they spent in their aunt’s residence.

Once they return, the festival concludes, they will demolish the Rathas as if marking the end of the Rath Yathra for the year.

Jagganath Puri Rath Yatra is a Hindu festival of profound significance.

The celebration lasts for nine days in total.

Legends associated with Jagganath Puri Rath Yatra:

There are numerous legends and stories associated with Jagganath Puri Rath Yathra. We have already discussed the story that leads to the Rath Yatra.

Apart from that, the deities in the Rath Yathra are modeled with wood, clothes, and raisins.

It is different from the other idols as they are fashioned with iron.

The reason behind the creation of the deities with wood dates back to the story of King Indrayunna.

Devotees believe that the half-cremated body of Lord Krishna got immersed in the ocean.

But it reemerged as a log of wood on the shore.

King Indrayunna had such a dream, and he decided to build a temple for Lord Krishna in his country.

Vishvakarma came to his place as an old carpenter and promised to work for him at the temple.

But, he made a condition that no one should interrupt him.

When he was working on the idols, King Indrayunna entered the temple to know how the work was going.

 Angered by the actions of King Indrayunna, Vishvakarma disappeared without completing the work.

Due to this reason, the idols have large heads and do not have arms.

However, King Indrayunna placed the wooden idols in the temple.

Even today, the custom continues.

Every 12 years, the temple authorities would remake new idols with wood.

It is the legend behind the use of wooden idols in the Ratha Yathra and why they do not have arms and have large heads.

Concerning the visit to the Gundhicha temple, Lord Jagganath became pleased by the devotion of Gundhicha.

Gundhicha is the queen of King Indrayunna.

So, the Lord decided to visit her once every year.

Gundhicha temple is the residence of the queen.

Every year, the procession goes to Gundhicha temple for that reason.

As per other legends, Gundhicha is the aunt of Lord Jagganath and his siblings.

Significance of Jagganath Puri Rath Yathra: Jagganath Puri Yathra is highly significant.

There are three chariots in the procession.

Each chariot has a unique decoration and significance.

When it comes to Lord Jagganath’s chariot, it is red and yellow.

Here, yellow symbolically represents Lord Krishna.

Similarly, Goddess Subhadra’s chariot is red and black.

 Here, black signifies the image of the Goddess.

Devotees who participate in the Jagganath Puri Rath by holding the chariots’ ropes can gain special benefits.

 It can help the person to attain Moksha or liberation of their soul.

They can also obtain peace, harmony, and spiritual rewards by taking part in the Rath Yathra.

Thus, Jagganath Puri Rath Yathra is a religious festival that has been celebrated for centuries.

 You will receive the blessings of Lord Jagganath or Lord Vishnu by taking part in the Rath Yathra.

What is Ratha Yatra?

Ratha Yatra, or the Chariot Procession, is a Hindu festival celebrated during the rainy season, at the beginning of the month of Ashadha (between June and July), in honour of Krishna.

It originated in the city of Puri, in Odisha state in the north-east of India, and is now celebrated in over one hundred cities around the world.

Ratha Yatra is a festival that commemorates the return journey of Krishna and his two siblings, Balabhadra and Subhadra, to the home of their adoptive mother, where they’d spent their childhood.

Each year, three large new chariots full of symbolism are carefully constructed and decorated.

They carry the deities from the temple of Jagannatha (another name for Krishna) to the temple of Gundicha, where they remain for seven days before returning to the temple of Jagannatha.

The purpose of the procession is to enable people to begin the journey back to their spiritual selves, beyond the ephemeral world, in the company of Lord Krishna, in an exchange of love and devotion, expressed through musicsong and dance.

Who is Krishna?

Hinduism is the West’s name for the set of beliefs and philosophies of India that share similar doctrinal bases and the same sacred texts. The real name of this religion is Sanatana Dharma, which means ‘eternal law’.

For devout followers of ‘Vaishnavism’, Krishna and Vishnu are the names of God. Krishna means ‘all-attractive ‘and Vishnu the ‘all-pervading’ or the ‘omnipresent’.

He is the one who maintains balance in all creation and bestows stability and well-being.

In particular, Krishna manifests the attributes of mercy and love, elements that characterise the path of devotion (the Bhakti Marga).

Barcelona’s Hindu community

Barcelona’s Hindu community started to become more visible at the end of the 1970s, mainly due to the interest of local people in eastern traditions.

It was not until the 1990s that people from countries with a Hindu tradition began to arrive in the city, mainly from India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

In Barcelona there are several centres dedicated to the study and dissemination of the Hindu tradition from a cultural perspective, and with a view to improving personal wellbeing.

There are also several communities that consider themselves religious communities, who are involved in the organisation of Hindu celebrations and festivities.

The Jagannath Rath Yatra Is a Reminder of How Inclusive Hinduism Can Be

The mythology of Jagannath that unified the lowest and the highest strata in medieval Odisha, centuries before the Bhakti movement began in northern India, represents the spirit of Hinduism.

This year, the July 14-22 period has been dedicated to Jagannath and to his annual Ratha Yatra, which has been described somewhat inadequately as the ‘Chariot Festival’.

The rites associated with the journey of Jagannath and his two companions from the great temple and their return nine days later has been recalled.

But can we look beyond the trappings and festivities of this annual ritual of the Hindus, and grasp the essence of an eternal Indian tradition of accommodation? Once we succeed in extricating ourselves from the ‘hold’ of these very attractive tourist and television packages around both the deity and his festival, and, of course, observe matters other the the overwhelming religiosity of the masses, we may be able to see more clearly the real plural nature of Hinduism.

This accommodative aspect of Hinduism needs to reassert itself, without the further loss of time, and overrule the strange intolerant brand that is currently marketed by some terribly locked minds – primarily and shamelessly for votes.

To begin with, let us note how the roughly chiseled stump of wood called Jagannath keeps flaunting a historic right to differ — by remaining proudly aniconic in the midst of a Brahmanically-approved pantheon of anthropometric deities.

No hands, no feet — the deity reminds us that the religion of our forefathers was not a closed club, but that it was forever open to all forms of gods, cults, beliefs, rites and even remarkable oddities.

It is remarkable how millions jostle each year just to get a touch of the holy cables that tug the impossibly-heavy ‘wooden buildings on wheels’ of Jagannath and his two companions.

This act of piety was deliberately misinterpreted by the white colonists as ‘mass suicide’ by pagan Hindus who threw themselves under their murderous heathen god, the unstoppable Juggernaut.

It is sad but true that such grotesque imageries, conjured by the ill-informed, usually reach people faster and go deeper into unsuspecting believers — whether in the past or at present — and they continue to stoke the desired repulsion and dread.

In a way, the mythology of Jagannath that unified the lowest and the highest strata in medieval Odisha, centuries before the Bhakti movement began in northern India, represents the spirit of Hinduism.

We can surely trace the core of this cult and the deity to the Savara or Saura tribes of Odisha that worshiped wooden stumps with no human features — the sthambeshwar or khambeshwari.

More so, after Heidelberg University’s impartial research led to the same conclusion, though there are some who claim that it was the Khonds, not the Savaras, who were actually the original worshippers.

But even today, we come across a special class of non-Brahman priests of Jagannath in Puri, called Daita and Soaro, who claim to be the descendants of the original Savara ritual practitioners who were absorbed into the expanded version of the ancient cult.

The moot point is that by accepting the deified wooden stump of tribal Odisha and elevating it to the regal pantheon of ‘high Hinduism’, sometime around the 12th century – as Jagannath or the lord of the universe – India’s classic tradition of assimilation scored a historic victory over those who sought to confront the ‘other’ and to crush ‘adversaries’.

Like other major Hindu rites, festivals and pilgrimages, Puri’s Ratha Yatra also reveals both the adroit skills and the subtle mechanics of how divergent demands on the idea of India were harmonised.

But then, we must also remember that there always exists a conservative core in all religions, even Hinduism, that bemoans the easy access to the almighty that its democracy confers on the masses and even in Puri, some social groups still suffer restrictions.

Even so, this open, mass-based religion stands in stark contrast to the obscurantist casteism that reared its head, in the name of ‘pure’ Hinduism, recently in western UP or in Bhima Koregaon.

Unlike most other famous religious sites that claim that their deities are ageless antiquities, just too ancient or pracheen to be dated, Puri never made such exaggerated assertions.

After all, everyone knows that the stumps of neem trees that represent Jagganath and his two companions are changed every 10-20 years. In fact, they celebrate it through a rather ornate ritual called Nabakalebara – literally, leaving the old body and the consecration of a new one.

It begins with an elaborate search for the ‘holy tree’ that is conducted by a large team consisting of different types of priests.

In olden days, it was led by two inspectors and some 30 police officers and even now, police and other government officials consider it an honour to be of some service to Jagannath. Once the right tree is located and a yagna is performed, the tree  is felled and carted to the temple.

Traditional hereditary sculptors work in secret for 21 days and nights and the old idols are buried in secret again.

Hindus deities come in both human form and in non-human representations like the Shiva linga. Jagannath stands somewhere halfway between this anthropomorphic and aniconic forms.

Though tribal worshipers did not insist on it, later Hindu traditions carved two outstretched arms so as to lend some human touch.

The huge eyes that stand out in the three divinities are, of course, painted on the logs.

One of the reasons for the immense popularity of the cult is its democratic nature and the historic practice of taking the deities out of their sanctum sanctorum, and directly to the masses.

The Puri temple is one of rarest among the major Hindu temples that takes the original deities out of the sanctum-sanctorum, as other temples usually bring out in public processions only iconic representations of their deities called Utsava-murtis.

As is well known, the three idols are mounted on extravagantly decorated chariots and taken out in the bright fortnight of Ashadh.

They travel some two kilometres away to the Gundicha temple, stopping on the way at their ‘aunt’ for Jagannath’s favourite Poda Pithaa.

It is interesting to note how religious rituals like these re-enact historic agreements between different socio-economic groups and these halts and the return journey a week later appear fascinating to researchers.

Jagannath’s open public procession strengthens mass participation, irrespective of caste and class, and this is right from the medieval period – marking it rather unusual in a hierarchical religion like Hinduism.

Incidentally, the three rathas are constructed afresh every year from the wood of some special trees that are brought all the way from Dasapalla, a former kingdom. Historically, the heavy logs were set afloat on the Mahanadi river and collected at Puri – to be crafted by hereditary carpenters.

Every part of the exercise is planned and executed in such an elaborate manner that it defies the normal ad hoc nature of Indians.

It is clear that the apportionment of rights, duties and privileges in such religious festivals represent critical aspects of the great and complex treaty among so many sets of people and profession – a social treaty called Hinduism

Incidentally, though numerous tribal worships were absorbed all over India throughout history, we hardly ever come across any direct record, as Brahmanism obliterates the trail of evidence and is careful enough not be caught with the ‘smoking gun’.

In Jagannath, however, we have a rare but irrefutable record or proof of what anthropologist Nirmal Kumar Bose described as ‘the Hindu method of tribal absorption’.

This is how ethnic and linguistic groups actually rose above their own inherited beliefs, deities and worships and ‘accommodated’ the other, by accepting what they treasured the most – their gods.

After all, without these ‘local treaties’ and ‘acceptances’, divergent groups could hardly share the common water and till the same earth – or live in harmony under the same sky.

This inexorable process of getting together oceans of humanity was basically the task of a religion that was stamped as Hinduism much, much later.

The crux is that this religion essentially offered a common platform to different and often conflicting sets of values and beliefs.

There is no doubt that the cult of Jagannath combined practices, beliefs and contributions from Buddhism, Jainism, tribal religion, Tantric worship,  residues from Saiva and Sakthi cults, within the paramountcy of Vaishnavism.

The tale of Jagannath has always attracted a lot of attention, as his metamorphosis and gradual assimilation of several religious traditions has been far better documented than other major cults and pilgrimages.

Amorphous myth and hard history do meet at frequent intervals as inscriptions and recorded narratives substantiate quite a lot of the claimed timeline – which accords considerable comfort to the scientific researcher, who is otherwise so ill at ease in other worships.

Several fascinating origin tales abound – like the Skanda Purana that mentions one King Indrayumna of Avanti who dreamt of the great deity called Nila Madhava or the blue Krishna who was worshipped at the Nilachal or blue mountain.

Many of us who are distressed with the dominant trend of obliterating  borders between fact and fiction in India can surely do more than just bemoan the unscientific temper and tone down our acquired abhorrence for messing around with nebulous religious subjects – because after all, it is we who left the domain wide open to fanciful speculators like P.N. Oak and to those who made a fantastic living from selling untruths.

We need to take a relook at the unofficial academic taboo observed mainly by anthropologists and historians against delving seriously into those subjects that matter the most to Indians – epics, puranas, myths, gods, heroes, heroines and other characters.

Too long have disciplines like philosophy, literature and ‘oriental studies’ dealt with them and too long have we heard the raptures of those who are more religiously-inclined as they discover and rediscover gems from their ‘real’ or ‘hidden’ meanings – as they reinforce the unreal with so much passion.

We need value-free researchers to connect the many hazy dots that lie all over the landscape – to link and refute or accept the assertions of myths with their plausible historical interpretations – as we do in the case of Puri.

We can surely now transcend the Western view that Hindu festivals like Puri’s Ratha Yatra were too heathen to be considered, for these are positions that are used by the present Hindu Right to inflame passions.

We may recall, for instance, that William Bruton, the first Englishman to visit Puri in 1633 declared it as “the mirror of wickedness and idolatry”.

Thus began the European tirade against the deity and even in 1900, we come across W.J. Wilkins condemning the Ratha Yatra as a “disgusting and demoralising exhibition”.

At the same time, we must commend the serious studies by Heidelberg University’s Sud Asian Institut in the 1970s and 1980s under its ‘Orissa Research Project’.

It involved field  studies conducted by several German scholars that examined the cult – quite scientifically but with empathy – that came up with very interesting evidence and interpretation of this syncretic tradition.

The point is that these historical and anthropological models of research could very well be done by Indians, or else we would be forever captive to ‘pride and prejudice’.

An enlightened chief minister like Harekrishna Mahtab did open a debate by declaring in 1948 that the Jagannath cult had really originated from Buddhism.

There was a hue and cry but light followed heat. Historian and Odisha specialist Rajendralal Mitra had said the same thing much earlier, as did British scholars and historians like W.W.

Hunter, Alexander Cunningham and Monier Monier-Williams. Faxien, the Chinese pilgrim, had mentioned in the early fifth century that Odisha and the Puri region were strong bastions of Buddhism and that there was a famous festival in Dantapur where a relic – a tooth of Lord Buddha – was carried in a great public procession every year. There are not only strong Buddhist links but Jain influences as well, and historian Kedar Nath Mahapatra declared that the Jaina Tri-Ratna tradition had influenced the worship of three deities in Puri – Jagannath, Balabhadrananda or Balram and Subhadra.

But there were historians on the other side who had equally powerful arguments against giving too much credit to Buddhism and Jainism.

The issue was finally settled, stating that the cult was not fully Buddhist in its origins, but that it was surely subjected to profound Buddhist influence.

The three deities, they claimed, actually embodied the Triguna of the Gita – sattvarajas and tamas.

Puri features as one of the four legendary dhams or centres of Hinduism that are believed to have been set up by Adi Shankaracharya.

It also has an iconic mutt or monastery constructed in the 12th century by the Vaishnavite saint, Acharya Ramanuja.

The temple chronicles of Puri, the Madala-panji, say that Raja Ananga Bhima of the eastern Gangas constructed the existing temple in the first half of the 13th century.

But the Dasgopas inscription mentions that it was Choda-ganga who set it up two centuries before.

The German scholars, on the other hand, mention that Yayati the First started building the temple 100 years before this.

The early inscriptions refer to the deity as Purushottam, and he must have taken at least a couple of centuries to get fully absorbed into Hinduism and bring his two companions into the temple.

The Purushotham-Kshetra Mahatmya has interesting stories of Vidyapati meeting the chief of the Savaras for a glimpse of the original deity, Neelamadhava.

Though we are not sure about the exact historical dates, there is no doubt that the Jagannath cult was responsible in uniting the Odia people of all classes and castes under one common worship, at least from the 13th century. This hardly happened anywhere else in India, as caste and class still dominate and it explains why Odisha offered united resistance to successive invasions by the Turks and Pathans, for almost 400 years after the 12th century. Neighbouring Bengal has a different history altogether – as the 12th century Sena dynasty of Kannada Brahmins suddenly tried to turn a rather flexible society towards orthodox casteism and other forms of religious rigidity. This was resented and for about two-thirds of the Bengali-speaking people who reside currently in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Tripura and Assam, their forefathers forsook this closed, hierarchical version of Hinduism for a more accommodative Sufi-led Islam.

In the 16th century, we see how Sri Chaitanya left Bengal for good and moved to Puri as he believed that Jagannath was the real fountain of all inspiration.

Not too many modern Indians remember that for several centuries, priests and propagators from Puri visited numerous families in their homes all over India to sing praises of Jagannath and to exhort people to make a pilgrimage to Puri. Ratha Yatras were copied in many states, and in south Bengal, the one at Mahesh is said to be six centuries old.

Local variations abound, and the ratha of Mahisadal in West Bengal is welcomed with gunshots. But behind religion stands economics – it is essential in all religions everywhere.

Ratha Yatras usually come with colourful fairs – the Ratha Melas – where piety and commerce combine with a lot of fun, frolic and food.

At the end, we must remember that it is neither wood nor stone that determine the phenomenal popularity of any worship, but it is its universal appeal and exceptional traits that really stand the test of several millennia and thrive.

It is accommodation that characterises Hinduism and we need to repeat this repeatedly to fanatics who are trying to hold it captive and are exhorting Hindus to be intolerant.

Authentic Hinduism can, after all, never seek to bludgeon others into submission – to some imagined ‘Indian culture’ – nor does it legitimise xenophobia. Puri’s Jagannath proves, for instance, that Hinduism excels in the wondrous management of contradictions and is a vibrant example of how the religion reaffirms through ritual the essential plurality and accommodative character of Hinduism.

Rath Yatra: When Lord Jagannath Literally Hits The Road

Puri Rath Yatra stands apart from other festivals because of its mass participation, legends associated with it, religious fervour and simply because of its sheer size and scale.

It is the time wh

Puri Rath Yatra stands apart from other festivals because of its mass participation, legends associated with it, religious fervour and simply because of its sheer size and scale.

It is the time when Lord Jagannath along with his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra comes out of his temple abode and literally hits the road for nine days.

During the festival period, Jagannath stay at Gundhicha Temple, a shrine built by a fervent devotee for him. In the process, the Lord grants audience to multitudes including those who are barred entry into the Puri Temple.

Located about three km away from the Jagannath Temple at the end of Bada Danda or the Grand Avenue, Gundicha Temple is named after Queen Gundicha, the wife of King Indradyumna who built the Puri Jagannath Temple. Lord Jagannath, along with his siblings, visits the temple to honour the devotion of Queen Gundicha.

he Rath Yatra or car festival marks Lord Jagannath’s trip to Gundicha’s Temple and his stay there.

For lesser mortals, the occasion is an opportunity of a life time.

Hindus believe that mere darshan or glimpse of the deity is sure to grant you moksha (salvation).

Pulling the chariot or merely touching it confers the blessings of several lifetimes.

 According to the Skanda Purana, a glimpse of the deities at the Gundicha Temple during the Rath Yatra is equal to attaining the benefits of sacrificing a thousand horses. Sacrificing horses was an immensely priestly deed as per Hindu traditions.

Lakhs of devotees head to the temple town of Puri each year to participate in the Rath Yatra seized with the desire to purge themselves of sins.

The festival is held on the second day of Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the moon) in Ashadh Maas (June-July).

Multitudes turn out to join the Lord in his sojourn and keep him company during the days of the festival.

It is the only time when non-Hindus can get a glimpse or touch the Lord as non-Hindus are barred from entry into the temple.

The archaic law has ensured that even foreign nationals, who have converted to Hinduism, are also barred from entering the temple.

So huge is the rush and joustling among the devotees that people have toppled onto the path of the chariots and lost their lives.

Such fatal incidents reportedly led to the coining of the word juggernaut which signifies literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable.

Apart from the scores which gather at Puri, millions watch the chariot festival from the confines of their homes.

The chariots are huge wooden vehicles made to resemble the temples.

Decorated as per rituals followed for centuries, each of the chariots has a name of its own. While the Lord travels on his Nandighosa, Lord Balabhadra’s vehicle is called Taladhwaja and chariot of Goddess Subhadra is known as Dwarapadalana or the ‘trampler of pride’.

Just to help understand the massive size of the chariots, here are some statistics. Nandighosa, at its height, measures 45 ft and 45 ft broad at the level of its wheels.

It moves on 16 wheels, each wheel is seven ft in diameter.

Taladhwaja, despite being the chariot of the elder brother, is 44 ft high and has 14 wheels. Dwarapadalana is 43 ft high and has twelve wheels.

It is not only the size that differentiates the three chariots.

A golden yellow strip of cloth covers Lord Jagannath’s chariot as he is seen as a manifestation of Lord Krishna.

Krishna used to wear Peetambar. Lord Balabhadra’s chariot is adorned with a blue strip while Subhadra’s chariot is adorned with black, which is associated with the Mother Goddess.

Tradition also guides the construction of the chariots. New chariots are made each year with wood from specific trees brought from the erstwhile princely state of Daspalla.

Hereditary carpenters are entrusted with the task of building the chariots.

Rituals and traditions also mark the start and construction of the chariots. Construction begins on Akshaya Tritiya, among the three and half auspicious days in Hindu calendar.

The rituals are held in the presence of the erstwhile King of Puri.

The chariots are built in 58 days.

The construction process has remained unchanged since the first Rath Yatra held several years ago.

Lord Jagannath’s chariot is made out of 832 pieces of wood, Lord Balabhadra’s chariot uses 763 pieces of wood and Goddess Subhadra’s chariot is made out of 539 pieces of wood.

As the chariots roll out of the temple compound, a mass hysteria seizes the accompanying multitudes.

Bhajans, the beat of drums and cymbals, the blowing of the conch; all add to the euphoria.

The lord and his siblings stay at the Gundicha Temple for seven days. On their return journey, the trio stops at the Mausi Maa Temple or the shrine dedicated to their aunt.

Situated mid-way on the Bada Danda or the Grand Avenue in front of the Jagannath Temple, the Mausi Maa temple is dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.

According to legend, Lord Jagannath and Balbhadra were left paupers after Goddess Lakshmi left Shri Mandir. Both had to go out begging.

During their brief stopover at Mausi Maa temple, the three deities partake of an offering called ‘Poda Pitha’, a kind of pancake favoured by the Lord and generally eaten by the poor.

Another interesting legend associated with Lord Jagannath is that of 17th century devotional poet Salabega.

Son of a Mughal subedar and a Muslim by birth, Salabeg turned a Krishna devotee after being severely wounded in battle.

 Cured miraculously, Salabeg went to Puri. However, he was denied entry as he was a Muslim.

So great was his love for Sri Krishna that Salabeg went to Vrindavan to learn more about his favourite God.

At Vrindavan, he had the desire to see the Rath Yatra and rushed to Puri. However, on the way he suddenly fell ill.

Feeling utterly helpless and realizing that he would not reach Puri in time for the festival, Salabeg beseeched Lord Jagannath to wait until he arrived.

Salabeg’s prayers were answered and despite the best efforts of the crowd, Nandighosa did not move until Salabeg arrived.

As a mark of respect for Salabeg and his devotion to Lord Jagannath, Nandighosa takes a brief halt each year near his samadhi.

With the spread of Krishna cult, Rath Yatras are organised in several parts of India and also in the West.

While such festivals can’t match the ardor, the size and scale of the Puri Rath Yatra, they are an opportunity for devotees to express their devotion.

The Magnificence of Rath Yatra: A Celebration of Devotion and Tradition

The Origins and Legends:Rath Yatra traces its origins back thousands of years and is associated with numerous legends and mythological tales.

According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, along with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, embark on a divine journey during Rath Yatra.

One of the most prominent legends surrounding Rath Yatra is the story of Lord Krishna’s departure from Mathura to Dwarka.

As the city of Mathura was plagued by chaos and darkness, Lord Krishna decided to leave, leading to an emotional farewell.

The Rath Yatra festival symbolizes this departure, as the deities are taken on a chariot procession from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple, located a few kilometers away.

The Grandeur of the Procession:Rath Yatra is renowned for its grand processions, wherein massive chariots carrying the deities are pulled by devotees through the streets.

The centerpiece of the procession is the majestic chariot of Lord Jagannath, known as Nandighosa.

Towering at an impressive height and adorned with vibrant colors, intricate carvings, and sacred symbols, Nandighosa symbolizes Lord Jagannath’s divine presence.

Accompanying Nandighosa are the chariots of Lord Balabhadra, known as Taladhwaja, and Goddess Subhadra, known as Darpadalana.

These chariots, although slightly smaller, are equally awe-inspiring, captivating the hearts of onlookers with their sheer magnificence.

The Unifying Power of Rath Yatra:Rath Yatra transcends religious boundaries and brings people from various walks of life together in a harmonious celebration of faith.

Regardless of caste, creed, or nationality, devotees come together to participate in this grand event, fostering unity, tolerance, and mutual respect.

The rhythmic chants of devotees, the vibrant colors of the chariots, and the intoxicating aroma of incense create an atmosphere that is both spiritually uplifting and emotionally charged.

The spirit of Rath Yatra unites individuals in a shared devotion, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers.

The Spiritual Significance:Rath Yatra holds profound spiritual significance for devotees. It is believed that pulling the chariots during the procession brings immense blessings and purifies the soul.

The act of pulling the ropes is seen as an opportunity to serve and please the divine deities, thereby earning their grace and divine intervention in one’s life.

Devotees eagerly wait for their turn to touch the chariots or even catch a glimpse of the deities.

It is believed that even a fleeting sight of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra during the procession can absolve one of sins and grant spiritual enlightenment.

The Joyous Celebrations:The festival of Rath Yatra is not limited to the chariot processions alone.

It is a multi-day extravaganza filled with various rituals, performances, and cultural events.

The streets come alive with music, dance, and vibrant decorations, creating an ambiance of joy and festivity.Devotees immerse themselves in devotional songs and prayers, expressing their deep reverence and love for the divine.

The entire city resonates with the euphoria of Rath Yatra as locals and tourists join in the revelry, experiencing the rich tapestry of Indian traditions and customs.

Preserving the Legacy:Rath Yatra stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Hindu culture and traditions.

Despite the passage of time and the challenges faced, the festival continues to be celebrated with unwavering devotion and enthusiasm.

Efforts are made by temple authorities, local communities, and the government to ensure the preservation and promotion of this ancient festival.

The Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha, is the most renowned and draws the largest gathering of devotees.

The government and various organizations have taken steps to enhance the infrastructure, manage crowds, and provide necessary amenities to make the festival a safe and memorable experience for everyone involved.

Conclusion:Rath Yatra, with its deep-rooted traditions, captivating processions, and profound spiritual significance, holds a special place in the hearts of millions.

It is an extraordinary festival that unites people, transcending boundaries and fostering a sense of togetherness.

As the chariots roll through the streets, accompanied by the chants of devotees, Rath Yatra brings joy, devotion, and spiritual fulfillment.

It is a celebration that showcases the richness of Indian culture and exemplifies the power of faith and unity.

Rath Yatra

Rath Yatra day.

You may well wonder what Rath Yatra means.

For Hindus it is a festive and meaningful occasion, where devotion to God is offered in a heart-warming manner.
“Rath” means chariot.

 “Yatra” means parade or procession.

On this day, the murti of the deity is installed in a gorgeously decorated chariot and drawn by jubilant devotees through the open streets, so that people can have darshan.

Mahabharat RathMahabharat Rath

In the epic, Mahabharat, before the stupendous battle Bhagwan Shri Krishna puts a proposal to both Duryodhan and Arjun who come to seek his help.

Duryodhan chooses the army of Krishna and Arjun takes Krishna on his side in spite of his pledge that he would remain weaponless.

Krishna becomes the chariot driver (sarathi) of Arjun.

Arjun is the rathi or owner of the chariot.

The fighting has to be done by the rathi while the sarathi drives the chariot.

The skill and expertise with which the sarathi manoeuvres the chariot throught the enemy ranks enables the rathi to exercise his prowess.

A good rathi but a poor sarathi invariably spells defeat or death for the rathi.
Even though the orders on how to fight and the battle arrangements came from other stalwarts called maharathis, the Pandavas were more than happy to have Krishna on their side, for they knew that Krishna was not a mortal being and hence not a normal sarathi with human limitations.
On the eve of the battle, Duryodhan, leader of the Kauravas, sends his chariot driver Uluk into the enemy camp.

Uluk insults and humiliates Krishna and the Pandavas, stoking rage and fury.

The Pandavas are on the verge of pouncing upon Uluk but Krishna pacifies them.

He addresses the messenger, “Uluk! Suppose you ride your chariot beyond the three worlds (trilok) or take it and hide in the underworld (patala), still, I can bring Arjun’s chariot before you on the morrow.”
The words of Shri Krishna reflect his adeptness in chariot driving and his spirit to lead the Pandavas to victory.

No matter where the enemy goes, Krishna is ready to take Arjun before them.
The climax of the Rath saga in the Mahabharat comes at the end of the battle, where millions on both sides have been slaughtered on the battlefield.

The Pandavas make their way into the eerie silence of the enemy ranks in Arjun’s chariot, to pay respects to the dead. One by one they step off the chariot.

Lastly, Krishna says to Arjun, “You step off first and I’ll follow.”

Now this seemed a little strange.

During the battle days, Arjun and Krishna had stepped off from the chariot many times without sequence.

So why does Krishna specifically instruct Arjun to step off before him?

 Seeing Arjun’s questioning look, Krishna assures him, “It is in your benefit.”

Arjun instantly obeys Krishna and steps down. Krishna follows him and the whole chariot bursts into flames.

The Pandavas just look on dumbfounded.

“What has happened?” they question silently.

“How is it that the great chariot, which had led them to victory, without any rhyme or reason has turned into a fireball?”

 Krishna then explains, “Drona, Ashwathama and other warriors among the Kauravas had shot their devastating weapons like the Brahmastra at the chariot.

But because of me the chariot had stayed intact all the while.

Today, with our task accomplished, I have abandoned it for good and hence you see it consumed by flames.”
Similarly, God protects us but as soon as He abandons us our life’s chariot burns into cinders, i.e. our life becomes meaningless.

When the atma leaves the material body – the chariot – the body becomes lifeless. It becomes useless.

Glory be to the soul who lives a noble, charitable life. A life in tune with God’s injunctions.

It’s worthy for such a soul’s lifeless chariot (body) to be burnt on a funeral pyre.

Ramayan RathRamayan Rath

In the epic, Ramayan, a similar parallel is to be found. When Kumbhakaran, Indrajit and other evil elements have been killed, Ravan is angered. Brimming with fury and rage, armed to the teeth, he thunders into the battlefield in his chariot to kill Ram.

Seeing this, Vibhishan becomes anxious for Ram’s life.

Ram then coolly explains to Vibhishan, “Oh friend! Behold my chariot through which I am always decidedly victorious.

Courage and tenacity are its wheels, immutable truth and character are its flags; strength, discrimination, self-control and charity are its horses; forgiveness, mercy and equanimity are the reins and devotion to God is its sarathi.
Any man, who, according to Shri Ram, lives a noble life, with courage and tenacity, powered by the spirit of truth, discrimination, self-control and blessed with a generous heart abounding in forgiveness, charity and devotion to God, can fare undefeated through the stormy straits of life.
Ram adds further, “Oh friend! Whoever possesses such a chariot can never be defeated.

With this chariot he can not only subdue minor temptations but transcend the trappings of this material world.

Shrimad Bhagvat Rath
The jewel in the crown of Bhakti scriptures is the priceless Shrimad Bhagvat.
The rathi of Shrimad Bhagvat is different from the battlefields in the above two epics. Here the rathi symbolizes love.
The story is that one early morning, while some Gopis were going to milk cows and to fill water pots from the river Yamuna, they see a dazzling chariot on the outskirts of their village.

They surmise that a kingly personality has come to visit Gokul.

Slowly they learn that Akrur has come from Mathura to collect Krishna – their beloved.

They become hysterical and forgetting their chores run straight for the chariot.
They surround it thinking all the while how to prevent their loved one from leaving.

 He is our life, our prana (life-force).

How can we live without him?

How will we experience bliss in his absence?

What joy will there be without him?”

And with these frantic thoughts they decide to stop the chariot by any means.

Some plan to lie across its path, some resolve to hold the reins of the horses, some even decide to throw themselves in front of the chariot if it starts moving.

The Gopis were prepared to die rather than be separated from God. Such was their profound love for Shri Krishna.

But as Krishna emerges from “Nandbhavan” (father Nand’s place), he glances at them just once and a path is created instantly for him – the Gopis give way.

What happened to all their brave plans?

Krishna climbs into the chariot.

Not a word is exchanged and yet the message has been understood.

The reins are pulled, the horses neigh, the wheels turn and soon the peacock feather recedes further and further until it is seen no more.

The Gopis are still standing there, speechless, watching their beloved depart.

Why didn’t they do anything?
It is said that when Krishna glanced at the Gopis, they saw in his eyes a profound desire to go. Immediately they gave up their resolves.

Serving their master’s wish was of paramount importance to them.
The chariot of the Shrimad Bhagvat portrays ideal devotion.

Devotion means following the wish, the will, the desire, the order of one’s divine master.

Whatever one may decide, however, lovingly or with devotion, but to alter one’s wish or completely overrule it and live to the Lord’s wish qualifies a true devotee.

The Upanishad Rath
The profoundest and most practical, philosophical wisdom in the world are to be found in our Upanishads.
The story of the Upanishad Rath is found in Katha Upanishad (1:3/3,4)
After a three day fast by the young spirited Nachiketa at the doors of hell, Lord Yam is pleased and tells Nachiketa to ask for three boons.

Nachiketa however has one supreme desire; to attain the knowledge of Brahman or “Brahma Vidya.” Yam tempts him with worldly offerings but he remains resolute.
Yam becomes pleased.

He begins to impart the supreme knowledge.

Atmãnam rathinam viddhi shariram rathameva tu |
Buddhim tu sãrthim viddhi manaha pragrahameva chha ||
Indriyãni hayãnyãhurvishayãnsteshu gocharãn |
Ãtmeindriyamanoyuktam bhoktetyãhur manishinaha ||
(Katho Upanishad, 1 – 3 – 3,4)

“The atma is the rathi, the body is the rath, the intellect is the sarathi, the mind is the rein, the senses are the horses and the “vishayas” (material objects) are the fields of pasture.”
Herein lies the story of the sojourn of life (jivan yatra) for which we have been given the rath, (the body).
The chariot, the wheels and the horses all symbolize motion or travel.

The chariot is not to be kept stationary or in a “garage” or on display in a museum.

The sage of the Upanishad is telling us here to keep our body (chariot) active, always engaged in good deeds.

If the horses are left to roam free they’ll become unmanageable and wild, doing anything they please.

But if they are harnessed together to a chariot with a driver they’ll run with a single motive towards a specific goal.

Similarly, the senses, if left to run free will create havoc for the rathi e.g. “

feeding” on anything and everything without discrimination and if they are directed by a sarathi they’ll be guided towards a fixed goal.
In the 5th verse, the sage elaborates further:

Vignãnsãrthir yastu manaha pragrahavãn naraha |
Sodhvanaha pãramãpnoti tad vishnoho paramam padam ||

i.e. the man whose “Sarathi” (intellect) is knowledgeable, wise, alert and discriminative, whose reins (the mind) are in full control, only that man is able to traverse the path of samsara (material life), reaching the desired goal, that is, Bhagwan Vishnu’s Supreme abode.
In this chariot, the rathi is atma.

The horses, reins and drivers are the senses, mind and the intellect.

The center of attraction is rathi – the owner.

The chauffeur will always drive with the best intentions of pleasing his boss. Similarly, the sarathi (intellect) drives with the best intentions for the boss (atma) and that is very necessary.

He does not over-whip the horses, nor does he run them at a dead pace, but at a pace suited for the rathi.

That is decided by the sarathi.

The “best intention” for the rathi is redemption (moksha).

 For that the mind, the intellect and the senses work together to take the soul towards redemption.
By imbibing this concept of Rath Yatra given in the Upanishads our life’s pilgrimage to eternity will proceed forward without hindrance.
Rath Yatra is a festival of accepting God’s All-doership in life.
On 11-7-83 a Rath Yatra festival had been celebrated in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the Amdavad mandir.

A small, beautiful chariot equipped to move was set up for the festival. On the previous night the chariot was tested and re-tested.

It worked perfectly.

The next morning after Swami completed his morning prayers he came to perform arti of Harikrishna Maharaj seated in a small exquisite chariot.

The chariot would not move due to technical fault.

The gadgetry some how failed to operate. Later, in Swami’s room someone said, “The chariot was in working order in the night and it failed at the last moment.

I just don’t understand why.”

Swami answered, “It is the wish of Maharaj. He probably wanted to give darshan in a motionless chariot.

” The words of Swamishri revealed the spirit of the Rath Yatra festival.

After having handed the reins to God, it is His wish that prevails.

He may give you joy or sorrow, wealth or poverty, fame or shame in spite of your sincerity and effort.

 Believing that He is the all-doer makes life happier and worth living.
(For more details refer to ‘Hindu Festivals and Rituals’)

Jagannath Rath Yatra Puri

Renowned as the Chariot Festival, Jagannath Yatra is one of the most-awaited festivals not only in Odisha but also in the entire country.

This annual event is celebrated in the month of June or July.

Dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), his sister Goddess Subhadra, and his elder brother Lord Balabhadra; Jagannath Yatra is a religious procession.

It is also called Gundicha Yatra, Car Festival, Dasavatara, and Navadina Yatra.

It is the oldest Rath Yatra taking place in India and in the world.

Jagannath Yatra is celebrated on the second day of the Shukla Paksha as per the traditional Oriya calendar.

This auspicious festival is celebrated for nine days in Odisha.

The festival commences with the Rath Yatra and concludes on a ninth day with a return journey – Bahuda Jatra.

During Bahuda Jatra the Rathas visit the Mausi Maa Temple.

The deities are moved from their abode of Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple during the procession.

On the first day of the procession, the Raths of the deities reach the Gundicha Temple and remain there for the next seven days.

And on the ninth day, they return to the Jagannath Temple.

The three chariots are constructed and decorated for the deities to start their Yatra.

The chariot of Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosa, which is 45.6 feet high with 18 wheels. Lord Balabhadra’s chariot is known as Taladhwaja, which is 45 feet high with 16 wheels. Devi Subhadra’s chariot is known as Dwarapadalan, which is 44.6 feet high with 14 wheels.

All the chariots are pulled by devotees with the help of ropes to the Gundicha Temple, which is situated 3 km from Jagannath Temple.

This festival is the perfect depiction of the rich cultural and traditional heritage of the region.

History and Legends of Rath Yatra

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is believed to be the oldest religious procession in the world. This annual ceremonial procession marks the beginning of the 9-day long festival.

There are various legends associated with the Jagannath Yatra.

All involve Lord Jagannath who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and his siblings Subhadra and Balabhadra or Balaram.

According to one legend, the Jagannath Yatra symbolizes the journey of Lord Jagannath from Vrindavan to Mathura to slay his evil uncle Kansa.

Another legend states that the siblings have just recovered from a severe fever and wish to visit their aunt Gundicha for a celebration.

And the third legend states that this is an occasion when Lord Jagannath wants to step out to mingle with his devotees.

This festival holds a special significance in Hinduism as the Rath Yatra is a mass movement for enlightening people about the Krishna consciousness movement.

It is believed that taking part in the Rath Yatra takes you one step ahead towards self-realization.

This festival allows devotees to serve god.

It is also assumed that those who pull the chariot rope and also help others in doing so or merely touch the ropes get the advantages of several penances.

The Chariots in Ratha Yatra

The prime attractions of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath are the Chariots.

On the day of Akshaya Tritiya, the preparation of the chariots starts.

There are 3 main chariots, hand-pulled with 50 meters long ropes.

The artists decorate these chariots in a beautiful manner with designs, motifs, and paints.

As the procession starts, the chariot of Lord Balram is pulled, followed by Goddess Subhadra, and that of Lord Jagannath at last.

The distance between the two temples is just 3 km but the whole enthusiasm of the tourists and the devotees clubbed with chants and drum beating, takes a few hours.

For the 9 days, devotees can seek the blessings of the Lords and the Goddess.

The return Yatra halts at the Mausi Maa Temple.

Here the deities are served Poda Pitha, a sweet pancake.

It is believed that this pancake is the poor man’s food and the Lord is fond of it.

Jagannath Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival is known to be one of the grandest procession festivals.

It also finds its mention in Puranas of Hinduism such as Padma Puran, Brahma Puran, and Skanda Purana.

Procession during Rath Yatra

The three deities are fashioned with wood, clothes, and raisins, unlike the ornate and carefully crafted metal idols.

During the procession, the Raths are accompanied by chants and conches, which can be heard all around.

Before the Yatra commences, the idols are bathed with 109 buckets of water, which is Snana Purnima.

These are then placed in isolation till the day of procession, as it is believed that they got fever after taking bath. This event is called Ansara.

On the day of the procession, the holy ritual of Chhera Pahara is performed by the royal successor of Odisha.

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 royal successor sweeps the chariot with a broom that has a gold handle.

He later decorates the chariot with flowers.

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 to the Lord Jagannath.

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 7 days. Later, they are back to their home during 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.

Where Jagannath Rath Yatra is celebrated?

Jagannath Rath Yatra is celebrated in Puri, which is situated 60 km from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha.

The deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra reside in the Jagannath Temple, which was built in the 12th century AD by Chodaganga Deva of the Ganga Dynasty.

Rath Yatra

This year, the very popular Jagannath Rath Yatra will be held in July.

The festival is celebrated on the 2nd day of the Shukla Paksha, Ashadh month according to the traditional Oriya Calendar.

On this day, the chariot will be drawn by hundreds of devotees.

Dress Code for Jagannath Yatra

There is no particular dress code for Jagannath Yatra, however, it is advisable to wear traditional clothes during the procession. Cover yourself completely and respect the religious feelings of the locals.

What to expect in Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra?

This is one of the most-awaited and grandest festivals in Odisha.

Jagannath Rath Yatra attracts almost 4 to 5 lakh pilgrims every year from all over the world.

Here are some of the highlights of Jagannath Puri Yatra:

  • This festival is celebrated for nine days, during which Lord Jagannath and other two deities visit the Gundicha Temple and Mausi Maa Temple.
  • The highly decorated chariots resemble the grand temple structure that is pulled through the streets of Badadanda in Puri.
  • On this day, non-Hindus and foreign devotees can visit the Jagannath Temple and catch the glimpse of deities, which are otherwise not allowed in the temple.
  • The huge procession is accompanied by devotional songs played on drums, trumpets, and other instruments, making the procession a vibrant affair.

Timings of Jagannath Puri Temple

Jagannath Temple opens from 5:30 AM to 10 PM all days of the week.

Interesting Facts about Jagannath Rath Yatra

The popular chariot festival is one of the most spectacular and highly significant events that carry a lot of cultural, religious, and social significance.

 Here are some of the interesting facts about the Jagannath Rath Yatra:

  • Every year, the new chariots are constructed before the Yatra and as many as 1,400 carpenters build the chariot from scratch. All the chariots are built with precision without using the measuring tapes, by using the ancient technique of measurement from hands and fingers.
  • The festival is known to have received rainfall every year on the day of the procession. As per the data, there has not been a single Rath Yatra without rainfall.
  • The word “juggernaut” in English is derived from the word Jagannath because of the heavy and huge chariots of Lord Jagannath. The word was coined by Britishers during colonial rule when they saw the procession.
  • The chariots look like temples and the top of the chariots replicates the structure of North Indian style.
  • For making the canopies of the chariots, about 1,200 m of clothes are used and a team of 15 skilled tailors makes the canopies.
  • As per the traditions, the royal successor of Puri sweeps the floor of the chariot before the starting of the procession.
  • It is believed that the chariot of Lord Jagannath refuses to move at first regardless of how many people are pulling it. According to the local folklore, it is after only a few hours of the festivities and rituals, the chariot starts moving.

Places to visit near Jagannath Temple

Puri is dotted with several attractions for its visitors.

Various beaches and temples are here.

Some of the popular places to visit near Jagannath Temple are:

  • Puri Beach
  • Konark Temple
  • Konark Beach
  • Raghurajpur artist village
  • Chilika Lake
  • Sakshi Gopal temple
  • Pipli village
  • Shree Loknath temple
  • Gundicha Temple

How to Reach Jagannath Temple

By Air

The nearest airport from the temple is Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhubaneswar, which is situated 60 km from the temple.

You can rent a cab or board a bus for Puri.

This airport is well-connected with important cities of India such as Delhi, Nagpur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, and Chennai.

By Rail

Puri is the last stop on the East Coast Railway. It is connected through direct express and other super-fast trains with important Indian cities such as Delhi, Tirupati, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad.

By Road

Puri is easily connected through a good network of roads.

The bus stand of Puri is located near the Gundicha Temple, which is well connected from Bhubaneswar, Konark, Cuttack, Kolkata, and Visakhapatnam with government-run buses and private buses. You can hire a cab or drive on your own from the nearby cities.

Accommodation options near Jagannath Temple
Jagannath Temple is situated in Puri and is one of the popular pilgrimage sites in the country.

There are plethora of places to stay near the temple.

 The Jagannath Temple administration also provides online booking for its guesthouses.

Here are some of the popular places to stay near the Jagannath Temple:

  • Niladari Bhakta Niwas
  • Shri Gundicha Bhakta Niwas
  • Nilachala Bhakta and Yatri Niwas
  • Madhusmruti
  • Mayfair Heritage
  • Mayfair Waves
  • Chanakya BNR Hotel
  • Hotel Golden Tree
  • Jamindars Palace

Where to Eat Near Jagannath Temple

There are a lot of restaurants and places to eat near Jagannath Temple that provide some mouthwatering cuisines.

Some of the popular places to eat near Jagannath Temple are:

  • Agarwal’s Pure Veg Restaurant
  • Mamani Restaurant
  • Bhojohori Restaurant
  • Rasoi Restaurant
  • House of Rice
  • The Grand

Rath Yatra -The Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath

Rath Yatra is one of the most sacred and important festivals of traditional Hinduism which is observed around the idols of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra installed on the moving chariot.

This festival is celebrated every year with great pomp and show on the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya Tithi in the month of Aashadha.

Rath Yatra, the week-long festival, is now celebrated in many parts of the world through formalities like puja, kirtan, parikrama etc.

However, the most magnificent Rath Yatra festival is organized at the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri.

In Bangladesh, the country’s largest Rath Yatra is organized at a place called Dhamrai in Dhaka. There are many stories about the origin of the Rath Yatra festival.

Below is a description of some of the most accepted stories from the distant past to the present.

Long ago, a king named Indradyumna ruled the state of Utkal (present-day Orissa) in India.

For a long time he had been thinking of establishing a temple in his mind but there was a conflict in his mind about the idol of the temple.

At this time he had a dream of Krishna named Nilmadhab in the cave of Nilachal hill.

Many places in India were forested at that time.

No one knew about Nilachal hill then.

After dreaming, he used to send people around in search of Nilachal. Finally, a faithful young man of the king named Vidyapati found Nilachal and visited the idol of Nilmadhab.

But sadly Nilmadhab then disappeared.

The king continued to repent to God with a heavy heart and to pray in unison.

In the end, the Most Merciful became kind to him. King Indradyumna dreamed that a piece of wood would float on the sea shore.

The wooden idol should be made by collecting that piece of wood and that idol should be installed in the temple.

It is believed that Bishwakarma, the architect of heaven, took the sacred responsibility of making that idol.

The condition was that no one could interrupt his work until the work of making the idol was completed.

If anyone did that, he would leave the work unfinished.

Ten days later, King Indradyumna’s wife became impatient and opened the door of Vishwakarma’s closed room.

As a result of breaking the condition, Vishwakarma went away leaving an incomplete idol.

Then the incomplete triad idol (Jagannath-Balaram-Subhadra) made by Vishwakarma was placed in the temple.

Like every year, this year too, the Holy Rath Yatra festival is going to be celebrated on 1st July in various ceremonies in different parts of the world.

We wish everyone a happy Rath Yatra.

Rath Yatra: Divided by location and United by Festival

Huge temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri, a coastal city of Odisha state of India.

The Jagannath temple and has considered one of the Char Dham in Hinduism.

Every year a grand Jagannath Rath Yatra is taken out which is not only Indian but most importantly world famous. Jagannath dham is mainly known as Puri.

This year Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra  date will take place on 20 June. Rath Yatra Utsav is a 10- days festival during which lakhs of devotees reach Puri from all over the country.

Lord Jagannath has considered an incarnation of Shri Krishna.

Whose glory has been also mentioned in religious texts and Puranas.

It has believed his brother Balarama and sister Subhadra.

Those who join this rath yatra and pull the chariot get a virtuous benefit equal to a hundred yagnas.

 Lakhs of people join during the Rath Yatra and it takes a huge influx of devotees to pull the chariot.

Jagannath Yatra has done on the 2nd date of Shukla Paksha of Ashadha month according to Hindu Panchag.

Which will come out on 20 June this year.

Devotees from all over the country are reaching here to join the yatra.

This annual festival is set according to the Hindu lunar calendar, on Dwitiya Tithi during Shukla Paksha of the Ashada month.

This usually falls in month of June or July in the Gregorian calendar Lord Jagannatha is the presiding deity of the Jagannatha Temple and is considered to be a manifestation of Lord Vishnu.

He is revered by devotees of Vaishnavism and is known as Lord of the Universe.

This temple is one of the four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites called Char Dham and is an obligatory pilgrimage for Hindus. Lord Jagannatha is worshipped along with his brother Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra.

The Rath Yatra festival dates back to over 500 years ago when King Purushottam Deva was ruling Odisha.

One day, he had a dream about Lord Jagannath and his brother Balabhadra asked for a temple to be built for them at Puri, Odisha.

The king then decided to build a temple which was known as Sri Mandir.

Thousands of devotees gather in Puri every year, pulling the huge chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Sister Subadra, believing that the divine vision of the gods will wash them all away from sin.

Devotees from different regions gather in Odisha to take part in the Lord Jagannath Ratha Yatra, which is performed with all the rituals.

The Chariot Festival is a spectacular tradition that is integral to mythology. It features elaborate processions of chariots and is a time to celebrate the age-old traditions of the people.

There are three different rathas, each with its’ own unique features.

The rathas are all different sizes and colors, and they each have several wheels.

 Jagannatha’s chariot has 16 wheels and is covered in red and yellow cloth.

The ratha of Balabhadra is decorated with red and green cloth covers and is supported on 14 wheels.

Subhadra’s Ratha is covered in red and black clothing and has 12 wheels.

However, there is a mention in the scriptures about joining this journey once in life.

Lord Balabhadra’s chariot is at the forefront of the Jagannath Rath Yatra, in the middle of it is the chariot of Lord Subhadra, and finally the chariot of Lord Jagannath.

Anyone who has truly involved in this journey fulfills his desire and attains salvation.

Apart from the initial celebration in the majestic city of Puri in Odisha, There are some other iconic cities outside of India where Ratha Yatra is celebrated heroically.

Famous cities like Brisbane, Durban, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and even remote corners of Russia are celebrating Ratha Yatra’s glory.

1. San Francisco, USA- Almost 49 years ago in 1967, the first Ratha Yatra outside India was celebrated in San Francisco, and interestingly enough, to the present day, the people of this city rejoice in the celebration with the utmost magnificence!
2. Prague, Czech Republic- Every year, the streets of Prague, Czech Republic, Ratha Yatra, are dotted with devout devotees who can be seen pulling a 40-foot chariot carrying the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. There was a group of singers behind the group. The musicians and dancers who had been intoxicated in the festival.
3. Durban, South Africa- Durban’s Ratha Yatra celebration began in 1988 and it continues to be a very popular event with locals and tourists alike.

There are lots of cultural activities taking place

during the day, including a chariot parade.

4. Moscow, Russia-
Here is a beautiful view of the Ratha Yatra observance in Moscow, where nearly 200 devotees endured severe weather conditions of below zero degrees Fahrenheit and snowfall to pull the deities happily.
5. Auckland, New Zealand-
A truly magnificent sight! Auckland, New Zealand celebrates Ratha Yatra, which is also highly praised in the beautiful city. The devotees dance energetically in front of the chariots, displaying their devotion to the gods. We can see from some of the best Ratha Yatra celebrations that Lord Jagannath is undoubtedly the supreme “Lord of universe”.

Jagannath Rath Yatra

Huge temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri, a coastal city of Odisha state of India.

The Jagannath temple is consider one of the Char Dham in Hinduism.

Every year a grand Jagannath Rath Yatra taken out which is not only India most importantly world famous.

Jagannath dham mainly known as Puri.

This year Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra 2024 date will take place on 8th July Monday

Rath Yatra Utsav is a 10-day festival during which lakhs of devotees reach Puri from all over the country.

Those who join the yatra get Saintly equal merit

Lord Jagannath is consider an incarnation of Shri Krishna. Whose glory is also mention in religious texts and Puranas.

It is believe that the Jagannath rath yatra consists of the chariots of Lord Krishna and his brother Balarama and sister Subhadra.

Those who join this rath yatra and pull the chariot get a virtuous benefit equal to a hundred yagyas. Lakhs of people join during the Rath Yatra and it takes a huge influx of devotees to pull the chariot.

Jagannath Yatra done on the 2nd date of Shukla Paksha of Ashadha month according to Hindu Panchag. Which will come out on 8th July this year.

Devotees from all over the country are reaching here to join  the yatra.

Importance of Jagannath Rath Yatra

Jagannath Rath Yatra a great importance in Hinduism.

According to beliefs, the Rath Yatra taken to the famous Gundicha Mata Temple to Lord Jagannath.

Lord Jagannath rest here.

Massive preparations made in the Gundicha Mata temple and water brought from the Indradyuman lake to clean the temple.

The greatest significance of the yatra is that it is celebrate like a festival in the whole of India.

One of the Char Dham is consider to be the Jagannath temple.

However there is a mention in the scriptures about joining this journey once in life.

Lord Balabhadra’s chariot is at the forefront of the Jagannath Rath Yatra, in the middle of it is the chariot of Lord Subhadra and finally the chariot of Lord Jagannath.

Anyone who is truly involve in this journey, fulfills his desire and attains salvation.

History of Jagannath Rath Yatra Story

Rath Yatra celebrate like a festival in the country however, this journey is carry out in many places besides Puri.

There are many beliefs and history about the Rath Yatra.

 It said that one day Lord Jagannath’s sister Subhadra, while wishing to see the city and pray to God to see Dwarka, then Lord Jagannath made his sister sit in a chariot and tour the city.

After which Rath Yatra taken out here every year.

Statues of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balarama and sister Subhadra are kept in this yatra and given a tour of the city.

The three chariots of the yatra made of wood, which the devotees pull and walk.

Lord Jagannath’s chariot consists of 16 wheels and brother Balaram’s chariot has 14 wheels and sister Subhadra’s chariot has 12 wheels.

The journey is describe in Skanda Purana, Narada Purana, Padma Purana, Bahm Purana etc. That is why this journey is very special in Hinduism.


What is the date of Ulta Rath Yatra?

Ulta Rath Yatra Date: Monday, 8th July, 2024

How long is Jagannath Rath Yatra?
Is typically seven day.

The chariots carrying the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are pulled from Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, a distance of about three kilometers.

Which are the top 3 Jagannath Rath Yatra in India?

  1. Puri, Odisha: The Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri is the most famous and important one in India.

2. Ahmedabad, Gujarat: The Jagannath Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad is the second-largest in India and is known for its vibrant and colorful celebrations.

3. Kolkata, West Bengal: The Jagannath Rath Yatra in Kolkata is a relatively recent addition to the festival’s calendar, having been initiated in the 19th century by the Balaram Das family.

Rath Yatra 

Rath Yatra which literally means, ‘Festival of Chariots’ is mainly associated with the Hindu and Buddhist community of India.

On this day, the idols of Lord Jagannath and his siblings are decorated and brought to cover a 3-km-long journey (from Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple) in chariots drawn by over hundreds of devotees, every year.

According to the Hindu calendar, Rath Yatra is observed on the second day of Ashadha month i.e., late June or early July.

In ancient literature, this day is referred to as Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya. In , Rath Yatra will take place on 20 June (Tuesday).

Rath Yatra History and Significance

The word ‘Jagannath’ is derived from the Sanskrit language that translates to ‘Lord of the Universe’ in English; Lord Jagannath is considered as a form of Lord Vishnu.

Holy literature including Brahma Purana, Padma Purana and Skanda Purana describe this festival as one of the most prominent festivals of the Hindu religion. According to the texts, the origin of this day dates back to the 12th century. The holy rituals of this festival include the procession of three chariots; for carrying Lord Jagannath, brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, for a 3-km-long procession till the Gundicha Temple.

Rath Yatra Celebrations across India

One of the most anticipated times of the year in Odisha, Rath Yatra is celebrated by organizing a procession of chariots carrying the idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother and sister, who are then taken to the Gundicha Temple in Odisha. The preparation of the 14-meter-high and 11 sq. meter wide, chariots begin 2 months before the ‘Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya’. The local artists of Puri decorate these chariots with bright colours and religious graphics. These chariots are pulled by over hundreds of devotees.

Once the chariots reach the Gundicha Temple, the idols are given a holy bath and are then rested in the temple for nearly a week before bringing them back to the Jagannath Temple. Since the late 1960s, Rath Yatra began being celebrated throughout the globe in various cities on account of the ‘Hare Krishna movement’.

Nowadays, Hindus and Buddhists all over the globe celebrate this festival by organizing a chariot procession of Lord Jagannath.

Rath Yatra Reason in Hinduism – Why Hindus Celebrate Rath Yatra?

Rath Yatra is an important ritual in Hinduism and is observed today throughout the world.

The most important one is observed at the famous Puri Jagannath Temple.

But why do we Hindus celebrate Rath Yatra? Have we ever given a thought to it?

The original Rath Yatra is held from the Puri Jagannath Temple in Orissa to the Gundicha Temple.

It is believed that the murtis of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra was carved in the Gundicha Temple.

It was later moved into the present Puri Jagannath Temple.

It is sort of return journey for the deities.

During Rath Yatra, the deities come out of the sanctum sanctorum in temples and mingle with devotees.

Thus the deities give an opportunity to all devotees to touch and feel their venerated murtis (idols).

All people irrespective of caste, creed, sect, and religion and sex distinctions are allowed to pull the Rathas or Chariots. This shows that all are equal before god.

All man made barriers are broken. Gods come down to visit devotees in their place. Every form of barriers are broken by Bhakti – devotion. Devotees dance with the deities. Devotees pull the deities around. Devotees sing with them. There is complete union. Symbolically, Rath Yatra beautifully explains the core teaching of Hinduism that everything is Brahman (God). The arrival of gods amidst devotees proves that there is no difference between the worshipped and the worshipper.

Chariot processions are also held in Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti Temples in many regions in India especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.

 Auspicious Rath Yatra Today!

Puri: Rath Yatra at Puri is being held on Monday after the Supreme Court modified its stay order and permitted the festivities without any public attendance, besides directing other precautions in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Hindu month of Aashadha, the Yatra generally begins on the Dwitiya Tithi (second day), Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the Moon). According to the Gregorian calendar, the event is presently held in June or July.

The Jagannath Temple is one of Hinduism’s four most important pilgrimages, with enormous religious importance. Ratha Yatra will be held on Monday, July 12, , this year. The Dwitiya Tithi begins on July 11, , at 7:47, and concludes on July 12,  at 8:19.

The literal meaning of Jagannath is Lord of Universe. In Puri, in the state of Odisha the Jagannath Temple is one of the four Dhams of hindus.

Here Lord Jagannath is worshipped with His sister Devi Subhadra and brother Balabhadra. Rath Yatra is also known as Gundicha Yatra, Ghosa yatra, Navdivisiya Yatra, Patit Pawan Yatra etc. Rath Yatra is of immense significance.

The Rath Yatra is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Goddess Subhadra.

 The Rath Yatra celebrates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, 2.5km away.

Three heavily-built wooden chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are traditionally pulled by thousands of devotees over a distance of three kilometres twice during the nine-day festival of the Trinity at Puri.

Lord Jagannath’s Rath, Nandighosha (also known as Garudadhwaja, Kapiladhwaja) is about 44 feet tall and has 16 wheels. Balbhadra’s chariot is called Taladhwaja or Langaladhwaja, and it stands 43 feet in height and has 14 wheels. While Subhadra’s chariot has 12 wheels and it is 42 feet tall.

Shri Jagannatha Temple Puri 

Rath Yatra is an annual Hindu celebration celebrated in mid-summer. It is one of India’s greatest religious celebrations, also known as the Chariot Festival. The three deities are worshiped: Jagannath, Subhadra, and Balabhadra.

 Ratha Yatra is on Tuesday, June 20,

Dwitiya Tithi Begins — 11:25 AM on Jun 19,
Dwitiya Tithi Ends — 01:07 PM on Jun 20,

Ratha Yatra is an event that represents equality and integration

 It is an excellent opportunity for individuals to see the heavenly entity.

The term “Ratha” means “chariot,” and “Yatra” means “journey.”

Rath Yatra is the sole day when worshipers are not permitted to enter the temple and can observe the deities.

This festival represents equality and inclusion.

Shri Jagannatha Temple Puri Ratha Yatra :

Every year, Puri, the temple town in Orissa on India’s east coast, celebrates Ratha Yatra, the Festival of Lord Jagannatha’s Chariots.

This event is held every year on “Ashadha Shukla Dwitiya,” which is the second day of Shukla Paksha (the waxing cycle of the moon) in the month of Ashad, the third month in the Hindu lunar calendar.

The famous festival in which Lord Jagannath’s chariots, accompanied by his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra, are brought out on Puri’s Main Street known as Bada Danda, allowing the public to have darsana (Holy view) and travel (2 km) to their aunt’s house where the deities enjoy a nine-day stay and are served with sweet pancakes.

The Puri Rath Yatra is world-famous and draws over one million pilgrims each year, not just from India but from all over the world.

The Jagannath Mandir at Jagannath Puri is one of the four most revered mandirs in the Indian subcontinent’s four directions. Rameshwar in the south, Dwarka in the west, and Badrinath in the Himalayas are the other three.

The mandir in Jagannath Puri is perhaps the only mandir in the world that houses murtis of three siblings — Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra — who are worshiped within the temple.

These three deities’ idols are likewise fashioned of wood, and they are faithfully replaced every 12 years.

Lord Jagannath’s chariot, known as Nandighosa, stands 23 cubits tall and has 18 wheels.

Taladhwaja is the name of Balabhadra’s chariot, which is 22 cubits tall and has 16 wheels. Devadalan, Subhadra’s chariot, stands 21 cubits tall and has 14 wheels.

Every year, the chariots are built from scratch in line with rigorous and ancient criteria, and they are drawn by thousands of worshippers at a time.

The Rath Yatra in Puri is one of the world’s most amazing displays in terms of magnificence and ardent devotion.

The creation of the chariots begins with ritual fire worship on Akshaya Trutiya, the third day of the brilliant fortnight of Vaisakha.

This takes place in front of the King of Puri’s palace and opposite the Puri temple’s main office.

The new agricultural season begins on this day, as farmers plow their fields.

This day also marks the start of the three-week-long summer celebration of the deities, commonly known as the sandalwood festival or Chandan Yatra.

Every day during this festival, the presiding deities’ representational representations are paraded in colorful processions and given a ceremonial boat ride in the Narendra pokhari/tank.

Mahesh Lord Jagannath Temple Ratha Yatra:

A Baidyabati devotee once presented a ratha to the Mahesh Jagannath Temple.

Krishnaram Basu, the grandfather of Sri Ramakrishna’s famous disciple Balarama Basu, contributed another Ratha in 1797. In 1835, his son Guruprasad Basu revived the Ratha.

After a few years, Dewan Krishnachandra Basu purchased an iron chariot from Martin Burn Company in 1885, and the Ratha no longer exists.

The narrative of the Mahesh Jagannath temple is fascinating. According to one tradition, a Bengali sadhu named Drubananda Brahmachari was once refused the opportunity to serve Lord Jagannath’s ‘bhog’ (meal offerings).

Dejected, the sage fasted until death.

On the third day, Jagannath appeared to him in his dreams and instructed him to create idols of Balarama, Jagannath, and Subhadra out of daru-Brahma (neem trunk). The lord also desired ‘bhog’ from his follower.

The sage returned to Mahesh to create the idols out of the daru-brahma he discovered one night.

Mahesh is the world’s second-largest Rath Yatra after Puri in terms of age and scale, with its festival and fair drawing crowds in excess of two lakh people every year. While parallels to Puri are unavoidable, the Rath Yatra in Mahesh is distinct in many respects. To begin with, the ‘rath’ (chariot) at Mahesh is 50 feet, hence taller than the rath at Puri.

At Puri, Lord Jagannath’s chariot stands 45 feet tall, Lord Balabhadra’s stands 43 feet, and Ma Subhadra’s at 42 feet. The Rath weighs 125 tonnes and is towed by massive Manila ropes. It features four levels and twelve wheels to represent the twelve months. It also has 96 pairs of eyes drawn on it, symbolizing the eyes of Lord Jagannath.

The Chaitanyaleela is shown on the first floor of the Rath, while the Krishnaleela and Ramleela are depicted in the second and third stories, respectively. Jagannath is sworn in as King a day before the Rath Yatra. On the festival day, the Jagannath idol is put on the Rath’s top floor. Balaram and Subhadra’s idols are also housed in the Rath. A Nilakantha bird is brought and placed in the chariot’s uppermost shikhara. The parade begins as the bird flies away.

This colossal rat is led on a wild rampage through populated streets while being closely monitored by the cops. A mela (fair) is held every eight days between rath ulto and rath. It includes Mary’s go-around and circus displays. Household objects and antiquities are sold from makeshift booths.

Finally, there are food vendors serving papad bhaja and hot jalebis. However, the age-old melas are also evolving, with chowmeins and egg rolls being the most popular food items and stunt bike rides being the new source of entertainment.

Ratha Yatra
Rath Yatra is celebrated on the second day of the two-week-long Ashadha month of the Hindu calendar and this year, it takes place on July 7. The festival usually falls between June and July. Millions of devotees from all over India congregate in the pilgrim city of Puri, Odisha, to participate in the chariot journey of Lord Jagannath. Rath Yatra is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu religion and is believed to be in practice since time immemorial. The day starts with the Mangalaparna ritual, followed by the journey of massive wooden chariots for approx. three kilometers to reach Shree Gundicha Temple.


The Jagannath Rath Yatra is one of the important festivals of Hinduism. Every year, a majestic procession carrying the likenesses of Lord Krishna, Balaram, and Subhadra is pulled by the devotees to reach the Jagannath temple.

The Yatra honors the journey of Lord Jagannath, the supreme God of the Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). As per Hindu beliefs, Lord Jagannath is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is annually observed in the Jagannath Temple of Puri, a city in the Odisha state of India. The holy month of Ashahdha is marked by the worship of the elder siblings of Lord Jagannath. Numerous hill tribes of Odisha partake in the execution of the festival, as Lord Jagannath is himself believed to be a tribal deity.

The preparation for the festival begins at least a month before. The wood of the Neem tree is used to build three massive chariots that carry the likenesses. As many as 1,400 workers trained in ancient carpentry build the chariot from scratch. The three chariots are built without any measuring tape, nails, or glue — only wooden pegs and old-school joints. Lord Jagannath’s chariot is about 44 feet tall, with wheels doused in red and yellow color. Whereas the other two chariots are 43 and 42 feet tall to signify the ascension of the younger siblings from the lord.

The word Jagannath is derived from the letters ‘Jagat’ and ‘Nath,’ which translates to the Lord of the Universe. The festival symbolizes the guiding principles of Hinduism, namely Saivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism.

Puri Rath Yatra

Every year in mid-summer, Lord Jagannath, with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, goes on vacation, traveling on grand chariots, from his temple in Puri to his garden palace in the countryside. This belief of the Hindus has given rise to one of the biggest religious festivals in India — the Rath Yatra or the Chariot Festival. This is also the etymological origin of the English word ‘Juggernaut’.

Jagannath, believed to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu, is the Lord of Puri — the coastal town of Orissa in eastern India. Rath Yatra is of great significance to the Hindus, and especially to the people of Orissa. It is during this time that the three deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are taken out in a grand procession in specially made gigantic temple-like chariots called raths, which are pulled by thousands of devotees.

Historical Origin

Many believe that the custom of placing idols on grand chariots and pulling them is of Buddhist origin. Fa Hien, the Chinese historian, who visited India in the 5th century AD, had written about the chariot of Buddha being pulled along public roads.

The Origin of ‘Juggernaut’

History has it that when the British first observed the Rath Yatra in the 18th century, they were so amazed that they sent home shocking descriptions which gave rise to the term ‘juggernaut’, meaning “destructive force”. This connotation may have originated from the occasional but accidental death of some devotees under the chariot wheels caused by the crowd and commotion.

How the Festival Is Celebrated

The festival begins with the Ratha Prathistha or invoking ceremony in the morning, but the Ratha Tana or chariot pulling is the most exciting part of the festival, which begins in the late afternoon when the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhdra start rolling. Each of these carriages have different specifications: The chariot of Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosa, has 18 wheels and is 23 cubits high; the chariot of Balabhadra, called Taladhvaja has 16 wheels and is 22 cubits high; Devadalana, the chariot of Subhadra has 14 wheels and is 21 cubits high.

Each year these wooden chariots are constructed anew in accordance with religious specifications. The idols of these three deities are also made of wood and they are religiously replaced by new ones every after 12 years. After a nine-day sojourn of the deities at the country temple amidst festivities, the divine summer vacation gets over and the three return to the city temple of Lord Jagannath.

The Great Rath Yatra of Puri

The Puri Rath Yatra is world famous for the crowd that it attracts. Puri being the abode of these three deities, the place plays host to devotees, tourists and about one million pilgrims from across India and abroad. Many artists and artisans are engaged in building these three chariots, weaving its fabric covers that dress up the chariots and painting them in the right shades and motifs to give them the best possible looks.

Fourteen tailors are engaged in stitching up the covers that require almost 1,200 meters of cloth. Orissa’s government-run textile mill usually supply the cloth needed to decorate the chariots. However, other Bombay-based Century Mills also donate cloth for the Rath Yatra.

Rath Yatra of Ahmedabad

The Rath Yatra of Ahmedabad stands next to the Puri festival in grandeur and crowd-pulling. Nowadays, there are not just the thousands of people who participate in the Ahmedabad event, there are also communication satellites which the police use under the global positioning system to chart the course of the chariots on a map on the computer screen to monitor them from a control room. This is because Ahmedabad Rath Yatra has a bloody record. The last violent Rath Yatra which the city saw was in 1992 when the city suddenly became surcharged with communal riots. And, as you know, is a very riot-prone state!

Rath Yatra of Mahesh

The Rath Yatra of Mahesh in the Hoogly district of West Bengal is also of historical repute. This is not only because it’s the grandest and the oldest Rath Yatras in Bengal, but because of the huge congregation it manages to attract. The Mahesh Rath Yatra of 1875 is of special historical significance: A young girl was lost in the fair and amongst many, the district magistrate Bankim Chandra Chattopadhya — the great Bengali poet and author of India’s National song — himself went out to search for the girl. A couple of months later this incident inspired him to write the famous novel Radharani.

A Festival for All

Rath Yatra is a great festival because of its ability to unite people in its festivity. All people, rich and poor, brahmins or shudras equally enjoy the fairs and the joy they bring. You will be amazed to know that even Muslims participate in Rath Yatras! Muslim residents of Narayanpur, a village of about a thousand families in the Subarnapur district of Orissa, regularly take part in the festival, from building the chariots to pulling the rath.

Ratha Yatra Festival of India

Learning and Reflections from My Neighbour’s Faith

Ratha-Yatra is an annual festival. In recent decades, thanks to the efforts of members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, it has come to be celebrated in cities around the world. Longstanding and well-known celebrations take place at the Jagannath Temple in Puri, India in the east, while the other takes place in the western state, Gujarat. Both of these sites have connections with Krishna’s mortal remains that are sometimes woven into the legends the chariot procession is based on.

In Puri, three separate, elaborate chariots are built by a large team of carpenters who have inherited the rights to making them. The crowds are so great there that pulling the chariots can be a risky endeavor. I learned from student who attended our event that touching and pulling the rope is believed to carry great virtue and can cleanse one of past mistakes. Participants each pull the rope for a brief time—about 5 seconds! Wherever it is celebrated, the Ratha-Yatra experience is unique to devotees in that deities are removed from their shrines and brought out into the streets, something that doesn’t occur during any other Hindu festival. The crowds are excited when the chariots start to move and as they near their destination. Having the gods ride through the streets is an exhilarating way for devotees to encounter them. 

The parade enacts narratives during which Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu (one of the main gods in Hindu faith, the preserver and protector of the universe), as well as his older brother Baladev and younger sister Subhadra travel from their home temple to their aunt’s home, the Gundicha temple. This journey is recounted in ancient sacred Hindu texts called the Puranas. There are multiple versions of the chariot ride legend, and many of them are complex. In some versions, the deities’ purpose is precisely to go meet their devotees who want to see them and to whom they also have a longing to meet. In another version, they have just recovered from a fever and need a change of scene. In another, the travel is due to Lord Jagannath’s devotion to his aunt.

The idols are created in a simple folk style because of diverse legends behind the chariot ride featuring King Indrayumna of Puri who requested the idols be made, but impatiently interrupted their completion and used them too early, only half-way through the creative process. In some legends, the artist was making the idols out of a log that appeared in Puri that was believed to be a regeneration of Krishna’s remains.

During the procession, we enjoyed hearing call and response singing. A singer moving with the chariot sang musical variations, always using the words “Hare Krishna.” The singers responded by echoing the exact intonations of the lead singer. “Hare Krisna” is an expression of devotion and petition to Krishna, one of the major deities worshipped in Hindu Faith (Shiva is another principal object of worship). This practice helps observants have a spiritual experience connecting with and receiving benefits from their Krishna, the preserver and protector. Devotees believe Krishna’s name has power to remove bad karma or that is, to overcome mistakes and their negative consequences. Saying Krishna’s name is also believed to have power to bring joy, greater access to truth, surmount the obstacles of personal ego, and create unity with the divine. The singing patterns accelerated and crescendoed as the chariot neared its destination. The crowds singing, dancing, and volume echoed the patterns and pace of the lead singer’s. I loved seeing when they gathered in clusters dancing with energy during the more energetic moments! It’s inspiring to me to see faith traditions taking up space in the city.

I pondered human desires to create spiritual experiences and to connect with divine beings. While this is not something everyone experiences in their lives, it is a pervasive experience throughout time and across cultures. I lean into the mystery of why this is the case, and feel inspired recognizing that urges to worship a higher power, surmount struggles of the ego, and create healing and redemptive experiences run across all faith traditions. Every world religion helps individuals transform and grow and to commune with divinity. Each one fosters connection, peace, and hope. There are many differences, yet threads of common longing and meaning tie faiths together.

Rathayatra – Festival of Chariots

Lord Jaganatha has again agreed to personally come and give darshan to everyone in the famous city of Liverpool on Saturday, 24th June  at 10 am.

 Ratha Yatra, the festival of the chariots, is a procession of Lord Krishna in his form of Jagannatha, Lord of the Universe. Traditionally held during the month of June/July, in Puri, eastern India, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims sing and dance in the procession, the festival now takes place in cities all over the world.

 We are planning to pull the 2-tonne, 6-meter high Ratha Cart from Bigge Park, Liverpool. We need a lot of Volunteers to come and help pull the Ratha Cart.

 The Vedic scriptures state that anyone who sees Lord Jagannatha or pulls His chariots achieves immense spiritual benefit, attaining liberation from the material world and entrance into the eternal blissful pastimes of the Lord. Anyone who has experienced the Rathayatra has surely experienced ecstasy. The mood of the day is charged with devotion, excitement and complete surrender as devotees brush the streets before the chariot. The sea of people in the procession calls out loudly for the Lord´s attention as they eagerly await their turn to pull the cart or sweep the streets. The entire atmosphere is one of happiness, joy and celebration.

Jagannatha Swami nayana pata gami bhavatu me!                         

   “O Jagannatha, Lord of the Universe, please be visible before my eyes.”

 Don’t miss this opportunity to personally pull Lord Jaganatha and rapidly progress in your spiritual life!

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra

Lord Jagannath is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Therefore, devotees excitedly wait for Jagannath Rath Yatra to appease Lord Vishnu. Lord Jagannath is worshipped as Lord Krishna, Narsimha and Lord Vishnu across the country. Every year, during the Rath Yatra celebration, devotees perform puja and take part in the celebration to attain the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Pilgrims from across the globe reach Orissa where the iconic Rath Yatra takes place. It is believed that taking part in the celebratory Rath Yatra offers salvation.

Wondering when this procession is going to happen this year? Keep on reading to find every detail about Jagannath Rath Yatra .

What is the Importance of Jagannath Puri Temple?

The Jagannath Puri Temple is one of the most important and revered temples in India. Here are some of the reasons why it holds such great importance:

Spiritual Significance: The temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is believed to be the Lord of the Universe. It is believed that a visit to the temple and offering prayers to Lord Jagannath can bring peace, prosperity, and spiritual upliftment.

Rath Yatra: The annual Rath Yatra festival celebrated in Puri is one of the biggest festivals in India. It is a grand procession of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra on huge chariots from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple and back. Millions of devotees from around the world come to witness the Rath Yatra and seek blessings from Lord Jagannath.

Mahaprasad: The Jagannath Puri Temple is famous for its Mahaprasad, which is considered sacred and is offered to the deities before being distributed to devotees. The Mahaprasad is prepared in the temple kitchen, which is considered the largest kitchen in the world.

Architectural Significance: The Jagannath Puri Temple is a fine example of Kalinga architecture and is known for its intricate carvings and sculptures. The temple’s 65-metre-high spire is visible from a distance and is a popular landmark in Puri.

Overall, the Jagannath Puri Temple holds great importance for Hindus and is an important pilgrimage site in India. The temple’s spiritual, historical, cultural, and architectural significance makes it a unique and special place for devotees and tourists alike.

What is the Reason Behind Rath Yatra?

Rath Yatra is a chariot pilgrimage, in which Lord Jagannath is honoured. During this procession, deities take a journey from their abode to a particular place and devotees take the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Lord and seek blessings.

It is believed that the Yatra is a journey of Lord Jagannath visiting the maternal aunt’s place with the siblings. This is an ancient tradition and is still followed with great pomp and show across the country.

When was Jagannath Born?

According to Hindu mythology, it is widely accepted that Lord Jagannath is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The origin of Lord Jagannath is placed in the 2nd millennium BCE.

Which State is Famous for Rath Yatra?

Although Jagannath Yatra processions are celebrated all across the country, global recognition is attained by the Rath Yatra at Puri. Located in Orissa, Puri becomes the focal point for millions of devotees every year. The unity, faith, and devotion of millions of pilgrims in Puri, Orissa is a sight to behold during the procession.

Which is the Biggest Rath in India?

The Rath Yatra of Puri, Orissa is the biggest in the country. The chariots used in the Yatra are more than 45 feet tall with 16 wheels. The Yatra takes the idols of three deities and the huge chariots are pulled through the streets of Puri by millions of pilgrims.

Who are the Three Gods in Rath Yatra?

The remarkable festival begins by placing three idols on huge chariots. The procession features three deities which are Lord Jagannath and his siblings Goddess Subhadra and Lord Balbhadra.

When does Jagannath Rath Yatra Start?

Devotees of Lord Vishnu wait all year long to witness the celebration of oneness and faith during the Rath Yatra. Therefore, it is important to make plans and schedules to not miss the memorable moment. According to Hindu calendar, Rath Yatra is celebrated on the second day of Ashadha month. This year, the Rath Yatra will take place on 20 June. Puri Rath Yatra timing is determined by the beginning of the Dwitiya tithi which starts at 22:04. If you like to perform Jagannath puja, it is best to consult a Vedic priest to find out the exact Rath Yatra  Date and Time. Alternatively, you can watch Jagannath Rath Yatra live and let a priest perform the puja on your behalf.

Why there is No Hand in Jagannath Temple?

Lord Jagannath has hands but no palms and wrists. According to Hindu mythology, the story of Lord Rama describes that when Lord Rama hid behind a tree to kill Bali, he was given the power of a boon in retaliation. So, Bali asked that may both the palms of Lord Rama vanish. In return, Lord Rama agreed that the boon will come true with the incarnation of Kaliyuga. Hence, there are no hands in the idol of Lord Jagannath.

What is the Importance of the Jagannath Rath Yatra?

Rath Yatra is celebrated every year as a symbol of faith and devotee. In Orissa, it is a depiction of rich cultural heritage. The chariots are made every year by skilled carpenters and pilgrims and tourists from across the globe come to witness the unique encounters. Hence, the festival is not just important from a religious viewpoint but also promotes unity and harmony among different communities and cultural diversity.

Chanting the sacred Jagannath puja mantra is a powerful spiritual practice to be performed in the month of Ashadha. It helps devotees to establish a deeper connection with Lord Vishnu and seek their blessings. If you are not sure about Jagannath puja vidhi but want to perform the rituals as per Vedic customs, then you can also book a pandit at Pujarambh. Our experienced pandits can perform the puja on your behalf and you can seek the blessings of Lord Vishnu to lead a fulfilling and prosperous life.

How many Days Rath Yatra is Celebrated?

The festival of chariots is a major Hindu festival that is celebrated over a period of nine days. The chariots are pulled across the streets to cover the distance of 2 miles and reach the Gundhicha temple.

What is the Date of Return Rath Yatra?

The chariots return to the abode of idols on the 10th day of the Ashadha month. According to the Hindu calendar, the return rath yatra  tithi falls on 28th June. On this date, the chariots follow the same route but in reverse order to complete the journey to the Jagannath Temple.

What is Bahuda Yatra or Ulto Rath?

Bahuda Yatra is an important festival in the Hindu religion that takes place on the tenth day of the Jagannath Rath Yatra, which is an annual festival dedicated to Lord Jagannath (a form of Lord Vishnu), his brother Balabhadra, and sister Subhadra. The festival is celebrated mainly in the state of Odisha, India.

Bahuda Yatra marks the return journey of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra from the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days during the Rath Yatra festival. The deities are carried in a procession on three chariots known as Nandighosha (for Lord Jagannath), Taladhwaja (for Lord Balabhadra), and Darpadalan (for Goddess Subhadra).

The procession starts from the Gundicha Temple and moves towards the Shri Jagannath Temple, which is their permanent abode. The chariots are pulled by devotees who believe that pulling the chariots will bring them good fortune.

Bahuda Yatra is a significant festival for devotees of Lord Jagannath and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. It is believed that those who witness the procession and offer their prayers to the deities will receive blessings and good fortune from Lord Jagannath.

How to Get the Blessings of Lord Jagannath without Visiting Puri?

Millions of pilgrims arrive at Puri before the festival to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath. Tourists make reservations months before the date to witness the great pomp and show. Don’t get disheartened if you cannot visit Orissa this year. You can still appease Lord Jagannath with the help of experienced Vedic pandits at Pujarambh.

Booking a pandit via Pujaramabh is extremely beneficial. It is a convenient, time-saving and affordable way to get the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Moreover, devotees don’t even have to arrange the Jagannath Rath Yatra Puja Samagri. Our priests will take care of everything and depending on your preferences, they can perform puja on your behalf.

Connect with Pujarambh and select the Rath Yatra puja package to get blessings and live a fulfilling life.