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Rath Yatra Rituals


On the day of the initiation of this Yatra, all the people at Puri get up early in the morning and take bath. After this purification bath, they offer prayers to the Lord at their homes and then head towards the Jagannath Temple. The massive chariots on which the Lord has to be taken out in a procession are lined up in front of the temple only.

It is after the devotees have reached the temple, that the contemporary king of the region brings the deities from the temple and installs them on their respective chariots. This ceremony is observed with a great pomp and show, and is followed by massive prayers offered to the Lord by His devotees.

It is after this that the off springs of the king arrive on gaily-caparisoned elephants to the temple. They, then sweep all the platforms of the Lord's chariot with a gold-handled broom. Thereafter, scented water is sprinkled on the chariot by them and mopping is done.

This ritual associated with this Yatra demonstrates that every human being is equal to God irrespective of his caste, color or creed. But, this bringing out of the idols of the Lord from the temple can only be done by either the King of Puri or the King of Nepal for they only belong to the Chandravanshi dynasty of Lord Krishna.

A very interesting but strange ritual associated with this chariot festival is that the devotees chuck various possible obscenities and sacrilegious abuses at the God. The reason for this as per a local saying is an incestuous relationship between Jagannath and his sister Subhadra.

This obviously provoked abuses during their public ventures. Metaphorically speaking, this entire yatra comes as a symbolic humanization of God. Thus, it is an attempt to bring the Lord down from his glorious pedestal to a human level.