Car Festival or Rath Yatra


Car Festival or Rath Yatra

This colourful festival which draws millions of devotees from various parts of the country as well as from abroad to Puri, is held in June-July every year. Lord Jagannath, Lord of the Universe, comes out of His sanctum sanctorum to give Darshan to all Devotees belonging to all sects and communities.lt is said that those who take part in the Car Festival 2022 earn their passage to the Heaven.

'Snana Pumima' marks the beginning of this festival. On this day the three deities—Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra take prolonged bath on an open platform known as 'Snana Bedi', Then they retire for 15 days popularly called the period of 'Anabasara' and remain in isolation. During this period, no public worship is performed. After 15 days of isolation, the Gods come out of the temple in a colourful procession to board their respective Chariots and thereafter begins the journey known as Ratha Jatra.

Reference to Car Festival in Jagannatha Puri is available in various scriptures like those of Buddhists. Jains and Hindus. However, the present concept of Lord Jagannath is most popular. According to the prevailing concept, Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped by Savaras—a Scheduled Tribe of Odisha. Car Festival symbolizes the Lord's desire to come out of the temple for a brief period to give Darshan to the 'Patitas', (i. e., the lowest of the low) and redeem them. The chariots of Lord Jagannath and His brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are dragged by thousands of devotees in three gorgeously decorated chariots from the main gate of the temple to Gundicha Mandir near about 3 Kms. away. At Gundicha Mandirthe Lord along with His entourage remains for 7 days.

When the chariots move on the main thoroughfare of Puri known as Bada Danda {Grand Road) through a vast concourse of humanity that usually throng to have His Darshan, the atmosphere is charged with sanctity. It is delightful to witness the foreigners in saffron robes dancing and reciting musical compositions in honour of Lord Jagannath and Krishna, to the accompaniment of cymbals and mridangas.

The Gods perform their Return Journey on the 9th day and this is known as Bahuda yatra.

The deities, after a seven-day stay at 'Gundicha Mandir' commence their Return Journey, or the Bahuda Jatra. on the tenth day of the bright fortnight of Asadlia. The Return Journey of the chariots takes place in the same order as in the Ratha Jatra. Balabhadra's chariot moves first, followed by those of Subhadra and Jagannath. On His way back, Jagannath slops for a while at Ardhasani temple popularly called Mausi Maa Temple or the Temple of Aunt. He accepts his favourite rice-cake, Poda Pitha from the Aunt.

The three chariots, pulled by thousands of devotees, reach back the Singhadwara in the late afternoon of the Bahuda day. On the next day the Bada Ekadasi, the three deities are attired in costumes of glittering gold ornaments and are worshipped by lakhs of devotees, This form of the deities Is known as the 'Suna Vesha'. On the Dwadasi day, the three deities go back to their original place of the temple, the 'Ratna Slnghasana', in the Pahandi style. Their arrival into the sanctum sanctorum marks the end of the Ratha Jatra, the grand festival of chariots.