Rath Yatra ||Shree Jagganath Dham||Significance||Interesting Legends

Rath Yatra ||Shree Jagganath Dham||Significance||Interesting Legends

Jagannath Swami Nayana-Patha-Gami Bhava Tume

The Jagannath Temple at Puri is one of the most magnificent and well known temples in India. It is the abode of Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra. There are many celebrations associated with this temple and the greatest one is the Ratha Yatra.

Ratha Yatra is other wise known as car festival or Ghosha Yatra. is a Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha, India. It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World whose descriptions can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.

This annual festival is celebrated on Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya . This year,it is celebrated on 12th Jul’2021.

RATHA YATRA, the Festival of Chariot: Chariots of Shri Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Odisha, on the second (Dwitiya) day of Shukla paksha (waxing cycle of the moon) of Ashadha Masa ). The presiding deities of the Jagannatha Temple, Puri’s main temple, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel- Sudarshana Chakra  are removed from the temple in a ceremonial procession to their chariots. The huge, colorfully decorated chariots are drawn by multitude of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha Temple (Gundicha– King Indradyumna’s Queen), two miles away to the North. On the way the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, Nandighosa (ନନ୍ଦିଘୋଷ) waits near the crematorium of Bhakta Salabega . a Muslim devout to pay him tribute.

On their way back from the Gundicha Temple, the three deities stop for a while near the Mausi Maa Temple (Aunt’s abode) and have an offering of the Poda Pitha which is a special type of pancake supposed to be the Lord’s favorite. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode.


The word “Jagannatha” is made up of two words Jagat which means Universe and Nath means Lord that is ‘Lord of Universe’. In fact, the Lord Jagannatha is considered as one of the reincarnations of avatars of Lord Vishnu. Every year, the Rath Yatra is celebrated by the devotees. Idols are taken out on a chariot and the three chariots are pulled by the devotees through the streets of Puri to the Gundicha temple a few kilometers away. There is a belief that pulling the chariots of their God during the procession is a way of engaging in the pure devotion of Lord and it also destroys the sins which might be committed either knowingly or unknowingly.

Jagannath Rath Yatra is celebrated by millions of devotees that came from across the world to seeks the blessings of God’s and fulfil their wishes. The atmosphere at the time of Rath Yatra is so pure and beautiful. Devotees with the chariots keep singing songs, mantras with the sound of drum beatings. Jagannath Rath Yatra is also famous as Gundicha Yatra, Chariot Festival, Dasavatara and Navadina Yatra.

Story behind Rath Yatra

A few mythical stories related to Rath Yatra’s origins exist that reflect the socio-religious thinking and beliefs of the people of the region. Some of the chief ones are:

To kill Lord Krishna and Balram, Kansa, their maternal uncle, invited them to Mathura. He sent Akrura with a chariot to Gokul. As asked, Lord Krishna along with Balram, sat on the chariot and left for Mathura. The devotees celebrate this day of departure as Rath Yatra.

Euphoric devotees celebrated the day when Lord Krishna, after defeating the evil Kansa, gave them darshan in Mathura in a chariot with his brother, Balaram.

Devotees in Dwarika celebrated the day when Lord Krishna, accompanied by Balaram, took Subhadra — his sister, for a ride on a chariot to show the city’s splendor.

Once Lord Krishna’s queens requested mother Rohini to narrate the many interesting amorous episodes (ras lilas) of Lord Krishna with the Gopis. Rohini–considering it improper of Subhadra to hear such episodes (Leela)-sent her away. Still, the Vrajkatha soon absorbed Subhadra along with Krishna and Balram, who by now had appeared on the scene. While they were completely engrossed with the stories arrived Maharshi Narada. On finding the siblings standing together motionless, he prayed, “May the three of you grant darshan in this manner forever.” The boon was granted. And the three forever reside in the Puri Temple of the Lord Jagannath.

There is an exciting story of Lord Krishna becoming the Sarathi of Arjuna’s chariot, during the 18-day battle of the Mahabharata.

Finally, a story which has been passed on from mouth to mouth, tells what happened after the cremation of Lord Krishna’s mortal body.

When Shri Krishna was being cremated in Dwarika, Balaram, much saddened with the development, rushed out to drown himself into ocean with Krishna’s partially cremated body. He was followed by Subhadra. At the same time, on the eastern shore of India, King Indradyumna of Jagannath Puri dreamt that the Lord’s body would float up to the Puri’s shores. He should build a massive statue in the city and sanctify the wooden statues of Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra.

The bones (asthi) of Lord Krishna’s body should be put in the hollow in the statue’s back. The dream came true. The king found the splinters of bone (asthi) and took them. But the question was who would carve the statues. It is believed that the Gods’ architect, Vishwakarma, arrived as an old carpenter. He made it clear that while carving the statues nobody should disturb him, and in case anybody did, he would vanish leaving the work unfinished.

Some months passed. The impatient Indradyumna opened the door of Vishwakarma’s room. Vishwakarma disappeared immediately as he had warned before. Despite the unfinished statues, the king sanctified them; placing Lord Krishna’s holy cinders in the hollow of the statue and installed them in the temple.

A majestic procession is carried out with the statues of Lord Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra, every year, in three gigantic chariots. The huge chariots are pulled by devotees from Janakpur to the temple in Jagannath Puri. The statues are changed every 12 years–the new ones being incomplete also.

As per Puranas, Neela Madhava is an idol that was in the possession of a tribal king, Biswabasu. Scriptures says that, after Lord Krishna wound up his manifested pastimes, he took a shape of Lord Vishnu. Biswabasu found this stone and felt its divinity. So he started worshiping it and name it Lord Nila Madhava. This Brahma was later fetched by King Indradyumna by Brahmin Bidyapati for the creation of Lord Jagannath’s idol. It has been kept inside a small chamber inside the Lords idol. It is believed that it is still present inside the Lord’s idol and is transferred to the new idol after every 12 years.

The Jagannath Puri Temple is one of the four most sacred temples in the four directions of the India–the other three being: Rameshwar in South, Dwarka in West and Badrinath in the Himalayas. Maybe, the temple in Jagannath Puri is the world’s only temple with the statues of three deities who are siblings — Lord Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra.

Vedic Beliefs-

As per the description in Skanda Purana, Among the 12 yatras of Shree Jagganath,Ratha yatra or Gundicha yatra is considered the famous one.

According to Bramha Samhita, those who can witness the four deities on the simhasana (sacred seat) of Gundicha temple for a week, they along with their ancestors would get a place,in the heavenly abode, Baikuntha.

Rathe tu Vaamanam drustva Punarjanmam na vidyate ||

It means if we see Vaamana or Lord Jagannath on the Chariot during the Rath Yatra or the Cart festival, we will never have to take rebirth again. In other words, we will get salvation or moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Rituals of Shree Gundicha yatra-

  1. Pahandi Bije-However ‘Pahandi bije’ the spectacular procession in which the deities are carried from their sanctum sanctorum to their respective chariots is the most special and colorful ritual for the lakhs of devotees assembled to get a glimpse of the trinity.
  2. Chera Pahara-The tradition of Chera Panhara started by King Purushottama Deva continues to this day. It is the most famous ritual associated with the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra. During the festival, the Gajapati King sweeps all around the deities and chariots. He then cleanses the road with a broom (gold-handled) and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder. His action bridges the gap between the rich and the poor, the low caste and the high caste and sends out the very important message of dignity of labour.
  3. Pulling of Chariots-As per tradition , after chera Pahara, the chariots are pulled towards Shree Gundicha temple which is situated ata adistance of approx. 3 km.
  4. Hera Panchami-Hera Panchami is a unique celebration that is observed on the fifth day of Rath Yatra As per legends,The Goddess urges Lord Jagannath to return to the Puri temple. She expresses anger over his trip to Gundicha without her. The Lord acknowledges her feelings and gives her agyaan mala to assure her about his return to their abode.After receiving the garland, Goddess Lakshmi leaves the Gundicha temple, but to vent out her anger, she breaks a part of the Lord’s chariot Nandighosha. A representative of the Goddess often does this on her behalf, and this tradition is called Ratha Bhanga.However, to get hold of the culprit, the Lord’s representatives begin a search operation. The Goddess hides behind a tamarind tree and then escapes through a secret lane called Hera Gohri.

5.Sandhya Darshana-As described in puranas, getting glimpse of 4 deities (Shree Jagganath, Balabhadra, Mata Subhadra and shree Sudarshan)  on adapa manadap during the evening (Sandhya Darshana) brings incesstant bliss to a devotee.This ritual is performed on the day before Bahuda Yatra.

6.Bahuda Yatra-Bahuda Yatra is the return journey of deities ,from Gundicha temple to Shree Mandir.This yatra is otherwise known as Dakhshinavimukhi yatra(Movement of chariots towards South)

7.Suna Besa– Suna Besha, also known as Rajadhiraja besha Raja Besha and Rajarajeshwara Besha when the deities are adorned with gold ornaments where chariots are in front of the lion’s gate (also called Singhadwara).

8.Adhara Pana

A day after Suna Besha, when the sibling deities glittered in golden attire, huge pots filled with sweet drink are carried onto the three chariots as offerings.

This interesting ritual of Adhara Pana, which literally translates as Adhara – Lip and Pana – Juice, is performed on Asadha Sukla Pakhya Dwadashi. During the ritual, the terracotta pots are placed on each chariot parked near the Lion Gate of the 12th-century shrine. These reach up to the Lords’ lips. The pots contain 100 litres of a mixture of milk cream, cheese, sugar, banana, camphor, nutmeg, black pepper and other such spices. These are then broken to liberate the souls/spirits and other invisible beings residing in the chariots.

9.Niladri Bije– Niladri bije is the ceremony of Lord Jagannath’s return with his siblings from the Raths to the main temple in Goti Pahandi. Among all the rituals of Jagannath Rath Yatra, the most interesting and last one seems to be Niladri bije. This is really interesting as it is all about the continuation of the fight between Lord Jagannath and Goddess Laxmi. Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra enter the temple after they return from the vacation, but Goddess Lakshmi did not allow Lord Jagannath to enter into the temple. A fight happens between Lord Jagannath and Laxmi in front of the temple. Goddess Laxmi was angry with him; as he did not take her along for the vacation to his aunt’s place. He had also closed the door when the Goddess had come to meet him. The angry Laxmi didn’t want him to enter the Puri temple as he had disrespected her. Even after a lot of requests, Lord Jagannath was not allowed to enter the Jagannath.

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